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Drones monitor wildlife better than humans: study

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

Drones can be used to monitor wildlife more accurately than traditional approaches, a study has found.

Researchers used a few thousand to test the usefulness and accuracy of drones for wildlife monitoring compared to a group of experienced wildlife spotters.

"For a few years now, drones have been used to monitor different animals that can be seen from above, including elephants, seals and nesting birds,"said from in

"However, until now, the accuracy of using drones to count wildlife was unclear," said Hodgson.

"We needed to test the technology where we knew the correct answer. We couldn't use wild animals because we could never be sure of the real number of individuals present," he said.

The researchers made fake bird colonies out of the on a beach in

Experienced wildlife spotters challenged those who counted birds from imagery to see which group could get closest to the actual number of fake birds.

The ground spotters counted the fake birds using binoculars or telescopes. Meanwhile, a was flown over the beach, taking pictures of the birds from the sky at different heights.

Citizen scientists then tallied the number of birds they could see in the photos. The approach won.

"We found it is more accurate and more precise to have people count birds from the drone imagery than to do it on location," Hodgson said.

However, birds in photos takes a long time - and citizen scientists can get tired.

Researchers made a to count the ducks automatically, which yielded results just as good as humans reviewing the imagery.

"With so many animals across the world facing extinction, our need for accurate wildlife data has never been greater," Hodgson said.

"Accurate monitoring can detect small changes in animal numbers. That is important because if we had to wait for a big shift in those numbers to notice the decline, it might be too late to conserve a threatened species," he said.

"Our results show that monitoring animals with drones produces better data that we can use to proactively manage wildlife," he added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 14 2018. 10:50 IST