In some cases, it may be hostile weather. In others it is reduced habitat or competition for resources.
But in all parts of the country, as we seek to protect our beautiful landscape and its wild inhabitants, it is becoming clear that cutting-edge technology can make a big difference to our efforts.
Recently our friends at The Mammal Society announced a ground-breaking new initiative aimed at protecting one of the UK’s most loved native species, the Red Squirrel.
This unique creature has been driven to near extinction by a combination of disease and competition with its grey cousin. Over the last 13 years, the red squirrel has disappeared from more than 60% of its natural habitats in England and Wales.
The population in England is thought to be as low as 29,500.
But this is where technology can help – thanks to a unique partnership between The Mammal Society, researchers at The University of Bristol, conservationists at Rainforest Connection and our experts at Huawei.
In a landmark programme, these groups will team up to generate new data on the lives and activities of squirrel populations through the use of advanced bio-acoustics, cloud technologies and artificial intelligence (AI).
Custom-built audio monitoring devices will record the natural noise of the environment with Huawei’s AI analysing the soundscape and reporting back to researchers on the tell-tale sounds of the red squirrel.
This powerful data will allow conservationists to understand habitats and behaviours, and better plan their efforts to protect this iconic, endangered, species.
Huawei knows these programmes can make a difference, because it’s not the first time we’ve done it. Our efforts started out in rainforests, with simple stations built from old mobile phones reverse-engineered to provide real-time alerts to park rangers when they detect sounds of illegal logging or poaching.
Working with Rainforest Connection, we’ve launched schemes to monitor populations of spider monkeys in Costa Rica, the Darwin fox in Chile and chamois in Greece.
All this would not be possible without advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence. In years to come, we may wonder how we ever got by without it.
By Victor Zhang, Vice President at Huawei
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