Thursday, March 6, 2014

Scanning stripes

Conservationist K. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society is using a new method to monitor the dwindling tiger population in one of their last strongholds: the Western Ghats of India. Rather than trying to distinguish the fuzzy pug marks of individual cats in the sand, they have set up camera traps and use sophisticated software to identify them based on their unique pattern of stripes which can be scanned like a barcode. Karanth explains (VIDEO HERE), Camera trapping allows us to very accurately monitor tiger populations. Find out how many tigers there are, how their numbers are changing, how many survive from year to year, and how many new tigers are entering the population. This is very critical to know whether your efforts to save them are succeeding or failing.” And when poachers undermine their attempts to save the tiger from extinction, the data can be used to convict wildlife traffickers based on the skins seized at tourist markets and international borders.

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