Empowering Wildlife Guardians: An Equitable Digital Stewardship and Reward System for Biodiversity Conservation using Deep Learning and 3/4G Camera Traps

by   Paul Fergus, et al.

The biodiversity of our planet is under threat, with approximately one million species expected to become extinct within decades. The reason; negative human actions, which include hunting, overfishing, pollution, and the conversion of land for urbanisation and agricultural purposes. Despite significant investment from charities and governments for activities that benefit nature, global wildlife populations continue to decline. Local wildlife guardians have historically played a critical role in global conservation efforts and have shown their ability to achieve sustainability at various levels. In 2021, COP26 recognised their contributions and pledged US1.7 billion per year; however, this is a fraction of the global biodiversity budget available (between US124 billion and US143 billion annually) given they protect 80 solution based on "Interspecies Money," where animals own their own money. Creating a digital twin for each species allows animals to dispense funds to their guardians for the services they provide. For example, a rhinoceros may release a payment to its guardian each time it is detected in a camera trap as long as it remains alive and well. To test the efficacy of this approach 27 camera traps were deployed over a 400km2 area in Welgevonden Game Reserve in Limpopo Province in South Africa. The motion-triggered camera traps were operational for ten months and, using deep learning, we managed to capture images of 12 distinct animal species. For each species, a makeshift bank account was set up and credited with 100. Each time an animal was captured in a camera and successfully classified, 1 penny (an arbitrary amount - mechanisms still need to be developed to determine the real value of species) was transferred from the animal account to its associated guardian.


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