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While global interventions and policies have received more support than ever before, it is the technology that is used that really allows us to strengthen wildlife conservation efforts.

Nearly one million species globally are at risk of extinction making it necessary for us to harness as much conservation technology that will give us a detailed understanding of wildlife and ecosystems. Camera traps, remote sensing, ecosystem modelling, drones, and artificial intelligence (A.I.) allow researchers to explore ecosystems to the most detailed degree and get closer to different species while going completely undetected.

Gaining a greater and more intimate understanding of wildlife and natural ecosystems is crucial for us to be able to implement conservation measures. Technology allows us to collect, process, and analyse huge amounts of data on circumstances such as vegetation health, species migration patterns, temperature fluctuations, feeding habits, species behavioural patterns, algae blooms, and species population growth and decline.

Often used nowadays, A.I. is used to develop systems that address wildlife trafficking, a major problem that persists globally. The software Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS) collects masses of data on past poaching records along with geospatial information about an area. This information is then used to design high-fidelity maps that indicate future poaching hot spots, and best routes for rangers to monitor areas at risk, and provides predictions on poacher’s movements, timing, and behaviour. During the first month of its field tests in the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, PAWS has helped rangers double the number of snares detected and removed during their patrols.

Another tool that has helped combat poaching has been the use of drones and aerial terrain footage. For area monitoring, suspect tracking, and wildlife migration tracking, drones feedback crucial information to address poaching. In addition to poaching, drones can be used for wildfire monitoring and tracking and to provide high-resolution near-infrared imagery, to provide information on vegetation health. In many countries, drones have now also been used for dispersing seeds.

It is not only the ecologists and conservationists that benefit from technology, but it is also the everyday consumer who would also have an impact on wildlife and the environment through their daily lifestyles. Conservation education within schools, museums, science centres, and even in our own homes, has welcomed a plethora of mobile apps, games, documentaries, and virtual reality experiences.

Games especially can serve as a valuable tool to teach users valuable wildlife conservation lessons. Internet of Elephants, a gaming development company, has developed a range of games and digital experiences that combines play, storytelling, science, and technology. Internet of Elephants has recognized that three billion people play games and up to 70% of them have expressed concern for the environment. They have successfully used scientific data of individual animals to create engaging digital experiences that bring wildlife stories to people where they are, whether it be at home, while on a run, at school, or even socialising in the metaverse.

Included in their arsenal of games and digital experiences, Wildverse is an augmented reality mobile game that allows players to go on conservation missions in the jungle and learn how to keep apes safe.

Unseen Empire has turned one of the largest camera trap studies into a gaming experience. Players get to experience real-life camera trap imagery to identify various wildlife species, and in the process learn more about the devastating impact of deforestation, poaching, and other human developments on endangered wildlife.

While the Internet of Elephants’ games is available for the everyday user via mobile app, museums have adopted larger scale, often even life-size tech exhibits to give users meaningful animal encounters that embed an interest in wildlife following the visit.