A new program focused on elephant conservation is utilizing drones and artificial intelligence to monitor African elephants, tracking them to analyze their behavior and social dynamics.
Colossal Biosciences, a Dallas-based “de-extinction” company, has partnered with the nonprofit Save the Elephants for a new wild African elephants conservation program. The program will use cutting-edge drone technology and machine learning to track the elephants.
The new program will see a fleet of drones deployed to track African elephants in Kenya and map their habitats for conservation and research purposes. The drones will also study individual and group behavioral patterns.
“Elephants are in dire need of additional conservation technologies to protect them. Given Colossal’s commitment to the preservation, protection, and conservation of animals and ecosystems, we are excited for the opportunity to create a new technology,” said Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Colossal Biosciences, per a press release.
“With this project, we will begin to understand elephant decision-making and build models to better understand behavior. This will ultimately lead to more effective habitat conservation and create a more effective, passive elephant tracking system that will not be dependent on human observation in the field or elephant immobilizations and collaring,” he said.
The partnering entities believe the new program will allow for a better understanding of these creatures and inform data that could someday be used to reintroduce the extinct wooly mammoth to the world, which the company is working to do.
“The technological sophistication of modern drones, combined with appropriate analysis including the use of Machine Learning and AI expertise, will reveal many novel insights into elephant behavior and ecology. And the better we understand elephants, the more we can help to secure a future for these iconic giants,” said Fritz Vollrath of Save the Elephants, per the press release.
While drone technologies have been increasingly used in various industries as of late, some measures are being implemented in the United States to check the potential for abuses.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court determined that a Texas law preventing drone photography of private citizens and property is constitutional, overturning a lower court ruling that claimed unlimited aerial surveillance of private citizens on private land was protected by the First Amendment.
Colossal Biosciences has been working to preserve elephant populations, recognizing them as “ecosystem engineers” and as a “keystone species” necessary to their ecosystems by maintaining biodiversity and vitality, according to the company’s website. The company is also working to develop a cure for elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses that have caused half of all deaths of young elephants in captivity.
Colossal Biosciences is the first company of its kind to focus on de-extinction and species preservation. The company recently announced its intentions to revive the dodo bird species, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.