Griffith University announced Thursday that Australian researchers will test a “facial recognition” device for koalas with the aim of better learning and protecting the species.
Researchers at Griffith University want to use artificial intelligence to identify every marsupial that uses wildlife corridors in the state of Queensland (northeast).
Tunnels and bridges have been built on busy roads near the koala’s habitat to provide a safer path away from cars for them.
Professor John Chu, who is leading this pilot study, hopes the AI will no longer have to control cameras to see which species are using these ecological pipelines.
“Now, with artificial intelligence that has developed at full speed for ten years, the technology is powerful enough to recognize not only koalas, but every individual of the species that uses these passages,” he said.
These researchers have already used identification tags and GPS to track koalas.
Griffith University said it will work in collaboration with conservation societies to allow the AI to eventually distinguish each marsupial based on its appearance and movements.
This data should provide a better understanding of how koalas use wildlife crossings and whether wildlife crossings can help prevent vehicle collisions.
This government-funded project will allow twenty cameras to be installed in July near Brisbane.
The numbers of koalas, victims of climate change, habitat loss, dog attacks, car accidents, and disease, are in significant decline.
The massive wildfires that devastated the vast island continent in 2019 and 2020 greatly accelerated this phenomenon.