article / 4 August 2023

#Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge: Judges' Panel Honorees

Please join us in celebrating this year’s top #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge Honorees as chosen by our panel of leading conservation organization judges, and enjoy the story contained within these entries about how our global community is using conservation tech, and where their bold and innovative ideas will take our field next.

Every year, we honor our #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge participants by sharing our top honorees whose impressive, impactful, and innovative projects demonstrate how technology is transforming the conservation field. We've seen tech users and makers from around the world, working in every possible environment and with every type of tool, and the stories shared in our past #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenges have reached over 1.5 million viewers, and even been featured in the New York Times.

This year, our Top Honorees across five categories have been selected by a panel of voters from WILDLABS' leading partner conservation organizations, including World Wildlife Fund, Fauna & Flora International, and Wildlife Conservation Society. In addition to hosting our first-ever Community Choice Awards, where we welcomed voters to choose the #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge entries that represent the WILDLABS community’s many impactful and innovative projects, we’ve brought together these panel members to help us tell the ever-changing story of conservation tech. 

Our photo challenge entries capture a powerful snapshot of how people are using and making conservation technology around the world and revolutionizing how we monitor and protect wildlife, and our expert panelists have, through their votes, shined a light on what matters in the conservation tech field right now, and where your innovations may lead us next.

We hope the #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge allows both our community and the public at large to feel better connected to conservation efforts, to appreciate the spirit of innovation that is driving our field, and to follow the inspiration found within these entries and put their own skills - whatever they may be! - to use in supporting projects like these. Please join us in celebrating this year’s Top Honorees as chosen by our panel of judges, and enjoy the story contained within these entries about how our global community is using conservation tech, and how their bold and innovative ideas will continue to transform our field in years to come.

Tech in Action

Our Tech in Action honorees showcase innovative or tried-and-true technology being deployed or used in the field. Our community voted on entries that not only capture the effectiveness of these tools, but also put the excitement of working with conservation technology on display. 

Our top honor in this category went to the Third Millennium Alliance for their posts not only showcasing the challenging yet exciting process of deploying unique AI-enhanced acoustic monitoring tools that monitor for threats in real-time in the rainforest canopies of Ecuador, but for their glimpse into all the technological components and pieces that come together to make acoustic monitoring possible. Our Tech in Action runner-up, Iguanas From Above, captured our judges' attention for their birds-eye drone footage of marine iguana populations in the Galapagos Islands. And like many of our Community Choice Awards honorees, both projects use AI, one of the most in-demand conservation tech tools - and one that promises to change how we monitor species as it becomes increasingly accessible and effective!

Our next Tech in Action honoree, Alvaro Garcia, shared photos from a carnivore collaring project in Peru. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance was also placed in this category for their photos of tiny trackers deployed on endangered Hawaiian bird species. Finally, honoree Rainforest Connection earned a spot for their updates on their acoustic monitoring projects in Puerto Rico, including updates on their machine learning-powered Arbimon platform that analyzes acoustic data.

1st Place: Third Millennium Alliance (TMA)

TMA has a long history of using #Tech4Wildlife, and we pride ourselves on staying on top of the newest and most powerful technological advancements in the fields of #wildlife, #research and #conservation. Today we share an example of our tech for@WILDLABSNET's photo challenge:
Over the past two weeks our team has been working to install 7 canopy-based acoustic monitoring devices called Guardians in the #JamaCoaqueReserve & #PatadePajaroReserve together with the amazing@RainforestCxteam responsible for developing this incredible tech.
The Guardians use #AI and #MachineLearning to help detect potential threats (i.e. sounds of chainsaws or guns) in our protected reserves, which our Park Rangers can act on in real-time. The Guardians send our team an alert message the second a potential threat is detected.
This is just one example of how #technology and international #partnerships can help protect one of the world’s most biodiverse and threatened ecosystems on the planet – the #PacificForest of #Ecuador.

Third Millenium Alliance (TMA) was founded in the early 2000s, aiming to address the global challenge of sustainability and ecological resilience. TMA purchased 100 acres of rainforest in Ecuador's coastal mountain range and established the Jama-Coaque Reserve (JCR). Over the years, the reserve has expanded to 2,000 acres, with a research center and a regenerative agroforestry site. TMA now focuses on a Community Reforestation Program to combat deforestation and promote sustainability. Their ultimate goal is to create a conservation corridor in northwest Manabí, connecting the last remnants of Ecuador's Pacific Forest.

Runner-up: Iguanas from Above

We are testing #AI as an accurate approach to identify and count #marineiguanas from #aerialimages. Our main objective is to estimate the population size of this species in a short time and help improving conservation efforts in the Galapagos Archipelago  #Tech4Wildlife

Iguanas from Above collects photographs from Galápagos Islands' coastlines to count marine iguanas for conservation purposes. Marine iguanas are an endemic and threatened species unique to the islands. Using innovative methods like drones and machine learning, they aim to estimate population size and locations, develop a conservation plan, and create a repository of high-quality images for future environmental assessments. They also plan to involve citizen scientists through the Zooniverse platform to contribute to the counting efforts.

Honoree: Alvaro Garcia

The #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge gave me a good excuse to show that we have collared 3 carnivores in the #DryForest of NW Peru: Pampas cats, pumas and Sehuran foxes. We'll gather this information in a single paper, but first we have to find time.@CindyM_Hurtado

Alvaro Garcia is a biologist with a Master's in Ecology and Conservation. He collaborates with the Department of Mastozoology at CORBIDI and is the Peruvian Representative of the Wild Felid Research & Management Association. He specializes in studying and conserving medium to large mammals. His master's thesis focused on the impact of free-ranging dogs on mesocarnivores in agroforestry landscapes of the Atlantic Forest. Currently, he co-leads the Peruvian Desert Cat Project and has prior experience working with shorebirds and birds from the dry forest.

Honoree: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Tiny backpacks designed to simultaneously conserve 2 endangered Hawaiian birds: the definition of #Tech4Wildlife. The trackers are helping us better understand ‘io and aid in the future reintroduction of ‘alalā, their natural prey, back to native forests.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is a nonprofit conservation organization integrating wildlife health, care, science, and education to develop sustainable conservation solutions.

Honoree: Rainforest Connection

Showing our Tech in Action for Day 1 of@WILDLABSNET's #Tech4Wildlife photo challenge!  Get ready for this week-long feature bringing together users and makers of #conservationtech worldwide celebrating innovations and ideas, successes, and the incredible #wildlife and habitats protected and studied with tech tools of all kinds. For today's focus on Tech in Action...follow us to our project in Puerto Rico!    the TECH: We are using our Guardian, a solar-powered acoustic listening device we've deployed across several forests high in the treetops (video to follow! ), and other #acoustic listening devices deployed closer to ground level, all that gather data constantly! We've collected, analyzed and visualized that data on our@ARBlMONplatform that uses #AI and #ML to transform ecoacoustic data into actionable insights so we can inform conservation efforts faster than ever before. why ACOUSTICS: Almost all species make sound.  Being able to listen to an entire forest 24/7 and all the species within it is giving us invaluable information we'd never been able to capture on foot, or by other means of data capture (think camera traps or drones). #biodiversity is also deeply intertwined with the overall health of any #ecosystem. By monitoring biodiversity we are able to see, through the data, how biodiversity is changing, what's impacting it, and what we can do about it to safeguard our natural world.  the RESULTS: By acoustically mapping the entire island (as you can see on our Arbimon Insights page screenshot) we have found a mismatch between current protected areas and remaining suitable bird habitats under #climatechange scenarios, demonstrating the need for larger, more connected protected areas and buffer zones! Climates change and species distribution can vary over time and can be affected by numerous external factors as well - to support the survival of these species, we are working with partners on the ground to share this #data before it's too late! That's a wrap on Day 1 of the #Tech4Wildlife challenge! Stay tuned for more & tell us in the comments how YOU'RE using tech for wildlife conservation! Learn more about our Puerto Rico project & listen to the species we're monitoring RIGHT NOW Our Guardian technology Our Arbimon platform

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) is an organization that constructs and implements scalable and open acoustic monitoring systems. These systems serve multiple purposes, including the ability to combat illegal logging and poaching activities, as well as facilitating the measurement and monitoring of biodiversity. Through their technology, RFCx aims to protect rainforests and wildlife by leveraging real-time audio data to detect and respond to threats effectively.

Tech Innovations

Our Tech Innovations entries showcased new ideas, a creative, outside-the-box use of technology, and sometimes even exciting projects beginning to develop. Like those chosen in our Community Choice Awards, our panel of judges have also selected entries that serve as a fascinating snapshot of what technologies matter to our field right now, and help us envision where conservation technology's future evolutions will take us.

First Place in Tech Innovations went to Luci Kirkpatrick, who showed us tiny, extremely light biologging gear sported by frogs and rodents. Given our heavy focus on movement ecology and the next phase of biologging technology's evolution this year in our Tracking Progress program, we're thrilled that our panel recognized how innovative tracking technology like this is poised to revolutionize movement ecology data collection and wider conservation efforts.

Next, we saw Andrew Nosal take the runner-up prize for his entry, demonstrating how computer vision and drones can work together to track the movements of large communities of leopard sharks. Andrew took two honors in our Community Choice Awards as well, and his success in this year's photo challenge further emphasizes how important AI tools are becoming to conservation technology work as a whole. Likewise, WildMe, another Community Choice Award honoree, also grabbed our panel's attention for their own work demonstrating a unique method for using AI to identify wildlife.

Our next honoree, Save the Elephants, shared an effective but surprisingly low-tech solution to encouraging peaceful co-existence between humans and elephants: beehive fences! By educating local communities about solutions like this, Save the Elephants is helping to combat human-wildlife conflict, a major conservation challenge in many critical regions. Finally, Juan Lopez was honored for an extremely creative tech set-up that studies the vibrational communications of insects.

1st Place: Luci Kirkpatrick

Its #tech4wildlife so I thought I would mention our tiny contact trackers@WILDLABSNET@IoSATracking Our smallest logger weighs less than a gram and can collect data for weeks depending on the resolution and settings plus we have 2 larger battery sizes
We also have stationary loggers to record coarse movement data and a gateway to download data remotely, while we use a mobile app to program and modify logger settings. We also have a cloud platform for data storage we are developing #tech4wildlife
So far our loggers are being used on animals big and small - including disease transmission experiments in rodents and movement behaviour in Natterjack toads as well as studies involving sea lions, ground squirrels, crabs and even humans! #tech4wildlife

Luci Kirkpatrick is a junior FWO research fellow studying how individual behavior and characteristics affect disease transmission. She is currently involved in two projects focused on improving environmental management to reduce disease risks through restoration practices and agroforestry approaches. Additionally, Luci is the CEO of IoSA BV, an animal tracking company. Her previous work includes projects on arenavirus spread and evolution and habitat management's impact on nocturnal biodiversity and behavior, especially bats. She is passionate about understanding anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity and its consequences for animals and humans.

Runner-up: Andrew Nosal


This image shows the trajectories (swimming paths) of all 180 leopard #sharks tracked over the entire 17-minute #drone video clip. @PLNU @Scripps_Ocean #sharkscience #SharkWeek #Tech4Wildlife
This density 'heat map' captures the overall structure of the leopard #shark aggregation. Contours (from outside) are 99%, 95%, and then 90% to 10% (in 10% increments). @PLNU @Scripps_Ocean #sharkscience #SharkWeek #Tech4Wildlife 

Lastly, just for fun, here are four individual #shark tracks to show some of the variation among the aggregating leopard #sharks. @PLNU @Scripps_Ocean #sharkscience #SharkWeek #Tech4Wildlife

Andrew Nosal is a San Diego-based interdisciplinary scholar with 10+ years of teaching biology, ecology, oceanography, and environmental science. He is an Associate Professor of Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University and a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Andrew’s research expertise lies in animal movement ecology, particularly with sharks and rays. He is also dedicated to public science outreach and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.

Honoree: WildMe

We'll throw our hat in the ring for the #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge. We use #AI to match individual animals of many species in large catalogs, and we work to visualize the how the AI network matches them, which can be very different than a human.

WildMe's mission is to support wildlife research and conservation by using photography and AI-powered computer vision to identify individual animals. They aim to combat the sixth mass extinction by providing efficient and accurate animal monitoring techniques. Their Codex platforms offer customizable tools for fast computational photo-identification, enabling global collaboration among researchers, tourists, and the public to identify species and contribute to conservation efforts.

Honoree: Save the Elephants

Save the Elephants is dedicated to securing a future for elephants through specialized research and scientific insights into their behavior and movements. They use high-tech tracking and low-tech solutions like beehive fences to promote coexistence with humans while protecting communities and providing income. Education and outreach programs share these insights with local communities. They also run the Elephant Crisis Fund in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Network, supporting NGOs combating the ivory trade and protecting elephant landscapes.

Honoree: Juan Lopez

#Tech4Wildlife 1/2 Laser vibrometers in a meadow recording vibrational communication in insects. Recording vibroscapes and exploring the vibrational community within them. Peeking into this hidden communication realm! #Biotremology

Juan Lopez is a Ph.D. student at the National Institute of Biology in Slovenia studying biotremology, the study of vibrational communication in insects. He is also a curator for VibroLibrary, a collection of vibrational signals recorded in hay-meadow habitats. 

Tech Impacts

Tech Impacts is among the most important categories in this year's #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge because it recognizes not only exciting projects, but why conservation tech work matters. Our Tech Impacts honorees showcase how technology has made a difference in conservation efforts through valuable data, informing policy, protecting wildlife or habitats from crime or natural disasters, or saving entire species. 

This category has the rare honor of sharing its top two awards with your Community Choice Award selections, which speaks to how clearly both projects showcased the impact of their work, and how their projects have continually inspired community members and conservation leaders throughout the years! Returning champion Andrew Digby earned our panel's top honor in this category for his continuing work with the endangered kakapo population of New Zealand, where conservation tech allows for comprehensive monitoring and care for each and every surviving bird. Another returning champion, BearID, took the runner-up position as they discussed how their popular AI method for individual bear identification could empower regional conservation efforts. 

The next Tech Impacts honorees from ICAS - Wild Animal Conservation Institute showcased how camera traps and telemetry have allowed them to capture footage of rare giant armadillo babies for the first time ever. Next, Wolf Fish demonstrated how drones could help spot and address human impacts on wildlife, such as a shark caught on abandoned fishing gear. Finally, Muongeni Tamara Manda shared photos from an eDNA biodiversity monitoring project, an area of noninvasive study rapidly growing within our community!

1st Place: Andrew Digby

Last week we translocated 4 critically endangered #kakapo back to mainland NZ - the first time in living memory. One way we’ll keep a close eye on them is through their smart transmitters connected to a data network - as on other kākāpō islands. #Tech4Wildlife #conservation
Photo credit: Lydia Uddstrom
The data networks enable us to remotely monitor each #kakapo’s activity (think FitBit!). Reduced activity can tell us if they’re sick. We recently discovered several cases of the disease “crusty bum” like this - as per Egilsay and Morehu. #Tech4Wildlife
Photo credit: Brodie Philp
The @docgovtnz Electronics Team is upgrading the transmitters and data networks to allow us to track more #kakapo and change transmitters less often. This is part of our strategy to use #technology to ‘step back’ from intensive management. #Tech4Wildlife 
Another way we’ll track #kakapo at the new mainland site is with a drone. The@WildlifeDrones1system provides real-time locations for up to 40 individuals simultaneously, and will help track movements following release. #Tech4Wildlife #conservation
Finally, we’ll also use GPS tags to track #kakapo at Maungatautari. These won’t give us “live” locations, but after capture will show home ranges and movements following release - all useful in determining the suitability of this new site. #Tech4Wildlife #conservation #parrots

Andrew Digby is a scientist at the Department of Conservation in New Zealand, specializing in kakapo and takahe. Originally from the UK, he pursued a career in astronomy, completing a Ph.D. at Edinburgh University. After a NASA postdoctoral fellowship in the US, he moved to New Zealand and worked in meteorological research. Andrew later switched to ecology, earning a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology at Victoria University of Wellington, focusing on kiwi research. Read about his current work here

Runner-up: BearID Project

For @WILDLABSNET #Tech4Wildlife week this year we wanted to tell you a little more about ⚡️The whys of the BearID Project⚡️ Why do the whys matter? Tech4Wildlife that is rooted in solving real-world problems holds the most potential for application to conservation.
Back to the beginning… When the @BearID_Project began we wanted to develop a tool that could ID individual grizzly bears for behavioural research. PhotoID can facilitate individual-level analyses, but most bears don’t have markings that are easy to ID from camera traps.
We looked towards facial recognition and machine learning to assess whether models could accurately use bear faces for re-ID - a method currently used by human brains but is perhaps subjective. Could ML provide a more objective approach?
We soon began to hear from folks interested in using BearID for more broad ecological questions, e.g. population densities & movement. Camera traps are ideal for assessing wild-ranging, elusive sp. and are cost-effective. Perhaps this tool could help to address broader Q's?
Soon after we began working with the Nanwakolas Council & its member-First Nations guardian programs. The Nations were interested in using ecological tools to gather information on grizzly bear distribution, habitat use & movements. This was a turning point for the project.
We began to learn more about policy surrounding grizzly bear conservation and associated land use – and the demands placed on Indigenous Nations to restore and steward these landscapes while retaining economic opportunities and sovereignty.
If we could work together to develop a tool that targets a priority species, gathers accurate & objective () data that can help inform decision-making, do this in a way that is timely, while building capacity = WIN for people and bears!
This is one of our priority whys. A solution that works for people & wildlife, which is not mutually exclusive. Over the past yr we have been working towards this goal; training models using camera trap data and building new collaborations to get us there. Stay tuned!

BearID Project uses machine learning and face recognition to identify individual bears from remote camera trap imagery. The software tool aims to provide a new survey technique for researchers and wildlife monitoring, with broad applications for scientists, managers, governments, industries, and community scientists. The approach can be applied to other species beyond bears, supporting global conservation efforts.

Honoree: ICAS - Wild Animal Conservation Institute

The rarity of this giant can be easily explained, for a female become mature around 7-9 years of age, giving birth to only 1 pup (after 5 months of gestation), between a long interval of 2 to 3 years.    With a growth rate that low, this species could disappear in a glimpse 2/3

ICAS - Institute for the Conservation of Wild Animals is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity. It produces science-based knowledge to promote harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife. ICAS aims to be a leading organization in scientific research focused on conserving biodiversity and presenting innovative solutions for endangered species, particularly the armadillo-canister and the bandamidle. Learn more about its projects here

Honoree: Wolf Fish

Shark Scientist Kat Mason was flying the drone over an important habitat for juvenile blacktip reef sharks, when she noticed something was not quite right with one individual. At first she thought it must be deformity on the tail, however she quickly realised that the ‘extra mass’ was in fact a long fishing line attached to the shark by a hook, which had grown large amounts of algae, weighing the shark down.

From this discovery, the team were able to inform the relevant organisations on the island. 

Follow our project here-

Tania Kanchanarak Sol Milne, PhD

WILDLABS Community #wildlabs4tech#tech4wildlife #aerialsurvey #sharkresearch#sharkweek #sharkscience

Wolf Fish is an anti-colonial company focused on building local capacity in environmental surveying. They believe in empowering local communities to protect their environments by providing them with skills and knowledge. Using aerial surveys, they monitor environmental changes and train communities to utilize the data for land use planning and habitat restoration.

Honoree: Muongeni Tamara Manda

Did you know that many industries overlook biodiversity during their projects, only addressing it during offset measures? Many industries don't prioritize biodiversity during the project but look at it during offset which increases chances of extinction of biodiversity leading to an unbalanced ecosystem hence climate change.

Intelligent Net Positive Impact on Biodiversity is a concept that seeks to use intelligent technology and innovative approaches to promote biodiversity conservation and enhance the sustainability of human activities. The idea is to reduce the negative impacts of human activities on the environment and aim to create a net positive impact on biodiversity. This approach involves identifying areas of high biodiversity value and implementing measures to protect and enhance these areas. #Let's protect for our future generations #

#naturemetrics #fauna&flora #angloamerican #conservation #eDNA


Muongeni Tamara Manda is a geoinformatics and environmental conservation student at the Chinhoyi University of Technology. She is also involved in various leadership roles and has won awards in environmental challenges and hackathons.

Species Spotlights

Our Species Spotlights participants showcased outstanding photos or videos of wildlife, whether captured through technology like camera traps or drones or captured in the field while working with tech tools for biologging, bioacoustics, and more. Our judging panel was blown away by the breathtaking images shared in this year's #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge, and these honorees' winning pictures are a wonderful reminder of the reason our community members have devoted their careers to conservation tech: an enduring love for wildlife and the many species we’re trying to protect around the globe.

This category's top honoree Luciano Foglia shared an absolutely stunning photo of rare snow leopard cubs spotted by rugged camera traps, an up-close and personal view that would've been impossible without conservation technology. Next, runner-up Save the Elephants returns to the honorees' circle with a wildly unique picture of wildlife interacting with conservation tech as a bull elephant carries a GPS collar in his trunk.

Nicole Corriveau, the Community Choice Awards winner in this category, earned an additional honor from our panel for her spectacular camera trap photos of African wildlife, from big cats to hyenas to elephants, all of which co-exist amongst local communities of the region. WildlifeACT Innovations shared a portrait of CM28, a cheetah monitored through GPS and LoRa tracking tech. Pictures like this remind us that the wildlife we work with aren't just data in a study - they're individuals with stories to share! Finally, Vainess Uwimana captured African white-backed vultures with a GoPro to monitor breeding season progress. As vulture species are threatened worldwide, efforts like these are vital for their populations to recover and thrive.

1st Place: Luciano Foglia

Here we go #Tech4Wildlife WILDLABS Community

The cameras traps at Baiboosun are located within the snow leopard landscape, with some cameras reaching 3800 metres altitude. The task of collecting the footage and data involves a high level of risk for our team because of this.

To learn more about wildlife and conservation in the Tien-Shan mountains please visit


Luciano Foglia is an artist and designer with a love for nature that led him to become a wildlife conservationist. He combines his conservation experience with creative thinking to inspire solutions and raise awareness for protecting vulnerable species. With over 20 years of experience and international recognition, his core mission is to produce fresh, innovative, and impactful creative solutions at the intersection of art and technology, and to make a difference in preserving our natural world. 

Runner-up: Save the Elephants

Nothing says #Tech4Wildlife louder than this bull elephant carrying a tracking collar. Using GPS real-time tracking, Save the Elephants monitors elephants to understand their behaviour and protect them better. Learn more here: @ninaconstable

Save the Elephants is dedicated to securing a future for elephants through specialized research and scientific insights into their behavior and movements. They use high-tech tracking and low-tech solutions like beehive fences to promote coexistence with humans while protecting communities and providing income. Education and outreach programs share these insights with local communities. They also run the Elephant Crisis Fund in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Network, supporting NGOs combating the ivory trade and protecting elephant landscapes.

Honoree: Nicole Corriveau

#Tech4Wildlife 🌍 Using #cameratraps with the South Rift Association of Landowners to support the co-existence of pastoralist communities and wildlife. 

I was able to learn from the Carnivore Team at Lake’enok Resource Centre to capture data that is quite useful in a landscape shared by community members and large carnivores. 

Also pictured: Julia Mast, Sarah van Driel, and Peter Meiponyi. 

Nicole Corriveau is a Fish and Wildlife Technician for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and recently graduated from the University of New England with degrees in Environmental Science and Climate Change Studies. She is experienced in avian research and climate communication and has worked with municipal government as secretary for the Biddeford Climate Task Force.

Honoree: WildlifeACT Innovations

Celebrate World Conservation Day; meet CM28 a cheetah we are able to monitor using GPS Satellite or LoRa tracking technology. Thank you, our partners as we continue to work together for wildlife conservation. @corrie.van.greune #tech4wildlife #GPS #track #wildlife #nature

Wildlife ACT Innovations is a partnership between Wildlife ACT Fund Trust and AWE Telemetry Systems, creating wildlife telemetry products used in various conservation areas, both public and private, to save endangered species and promote biodiversity conservation.

Honoree: Vainess Uwimana

Vulture ( in our case- African white-backed vulture) nest surveys in the western corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem would have been a nightmare without technology. A go pro camera mounted on a telescoping pole helps us to see the nests contents for determination of breeding success at the end of the breeding season.@wildlabsnet#tech4wildlife #goprohero5 #goprophotography

Vainess Uwimana is a RISE scholar at Grumeti Fund and completed its Women in the Field program. She supports the Women in Conservation Technology Programme in Tanzania with WILDLABS in partnership with RISE at Grumeti Fund, Fauna & Flora International, and ConTech Africa. 

Community Science

Our final category, Community Science, celebrates honorees whose posts showcase how technology can help us connect people to conservation efforts, whether through engaging with local communities and building capacity for tech work, sharing wildlife and conservation stories with audiences around the world, or allowing people to connect with nature in their own lives. This category is a crucial reminder that wildlife conservation is not only about flagship species and large-scale efforts: it’s about all of us finding our own role to play in conservation with the skills and tools that are accessible to us. 

Our panel's top honor went to the Center for Conservation Innovations, which discussed their successful conservation tech training of over 300 locals in the Philippines. These participants learned to use  CyberTracker, SMART, and EarthRanger tools, which can help these communities respond to the impacts of natural disasters like typhoons. This work is a great example of why accessible conservation technology solutions matter and how empowering local communities to engage with conservation in their regions can have an enormous impact.

Our panel's runner-up prize went to Ostdrossel for videos of local birds and unique views inside of their nests. In a photo challenge stacked with captivating species, Ostdrossel's high placement in both our Judges' Panel Awards and the Community Choice Awards is a wonderful reminder of how technology can help us connect to local species and help the public appreciate and learn from nature on a deeper level, something that is absolutely vital if the world is to understand why conservation tech matters so much. Likewise, honoree Suzanne Dickerson grabbed the attention of our judges and community voters for her camera trap footage of the unique behavior of local raccoon families and their interactions in a space shared by many other species. Videos like these are often peoples' first engagement with conservation technology, and this category reminds us that we cannot underestimate the power of connecting people to the nature around them.

Next, Iguanas from Above once again entered the honorees' circle for their reminder that collaborations, promoting conservation tech work, and ensuring women and underrepresented groups in the sciences are celebrated as conservation leaders are all vital to the future of our field. And finally, Cetalingua Project was honored for sharing how citizen scientists help train AI models to analyze video and marine bioacoustics data, a project that is also a great entry point for non-experts who are interested in learning about and actively engaging with conservation technology like this for the first time!

1st Place: Center for Conservation Innovations (CCIPH)

Ending our #Tech4Wildlife entry with the Citizen Science approach.

Last year during our Green Assessment activity, our team led the training for local communities in Palawan to become citizen scientists. This was in response to the Super Typhoon Odette (internationally known as Rai).

In Post-disaster scenarios, environmental concerns are not always sufficiently incorporated into strategic planning at the outset of the reconstruction process, and that as a result, reconstruction efforts have contributed to further degradation of many areas affected by natural calamities. Employing both centralized and citizen science-driven streams of data gathering on defined damage hotspots widens the coverage of data capture, improves information, and strengthens decision-making.

Innovative tools for conservation like CyberTracker, SMART, and EarthRanger has allowed experts to engage locals in data capture and monitoring of their areas. Around 315 locals (and more since then!) were trained in the use of CyberTracker and EarthRanger. These people had backgrounds varying from students, barangay officials and volunteers, health workers, forest rangers, farmers, professional workers, and indigenous peoples. By capacitating the locals in biodiversity monitoring with the use of digital tools, data capture is made easier and faster, supplementing that of the Protected Area Management Offices and local government units.

The Center for Conservation Innovation Ph Inc. (CCIPH) is a non-profit NGO promoting effective and sustainable biodiversity conservation. It consolidates and facilitates conservation capacity, innovations, and successes through partnerships and capacity-building initiatives. Formerly known as Fauna and Flora International Philippines, CCIPH continues its work as an independent NGO, providing technical support and capacity development for various aspects of biodiversity conservation. It collaborates with individuals, organizations, and governments to enhance conservation practices and knowledge. CCIPH has expertise in various areas, including species distribution modeling, protected area management, community development, and wildlife monitoring systems. It also supports academic institutions and students in developing biodiversity and analytical skills.

Runner-up: Ostdrossel

Other than that, I love my photo setup for closeups. My camera is a bit overproductive so at times it takes me a while to go through all the photos, and currently I lag behind a bit but here are some of my favorites. Using #Tech4Wildlife rocks!

Ostdrossel shares photos and videos using a homemade feeder camera setup with an action camera and macro lens for closeup shots. The setup produces up to 25,000 photos a day per camera. Additionally, they use a BirdsyTV camera with built-in AI to record videos of birds landing and store the clips in the cloud. View their RedBubble account here

Honoree: Suzanne Dickerson

Suzanne Dickerson, or @CameraTrapSue, is a Colorado-based researcher and ecologist. She has gained a large online following by sharing trail camera footage of wildlife.

Honoree: Iguanas from Above

Our project is developed by two #WomenInSTEM who seek to promote conservation work. This is a result of a collaboration between institutions from #Ecuador and #Germany: University of Leipzig, Galapagos Science Center, Galapagos National Park. #Tech4Wildlife@CientificasEC

Iguanas from Above collects photographs from Galápagos Islands' coastlines to count marine iguanas for conservation purposes. Marine iguanas are an endemic and threatened species unique to the islands. Using innovative methods like drones and machine learning, they aim to estimate population size and locations, develop a conservation plan, and create a repository of high-quality images for future environmental assessments. They also plan to involve citizen scientists through the Zooniverse platform to contribute to the counting efforts.

Honoree: Cetalingua Project

Annotating data is a crucial first step in training deep learning models. On our platform, #citizenscientists can annotate their own or their community's behavioral and acoustic data. These annotations can be used to train models, both individual and communal.#Tech4Wildlife

The Cetalingua Project aims to decode marine mammal communication using citizen science and AI. It involves analyzing large audio and video datasets to understand individual variations, call categories, and sequential information. The platform allows boaters, sailors, and marine mammal enthusiasts to contribute to conservation efforts by studying and understanding dolphin, humpback whale, and manatee vocalizations. The project's practical conservation benefits include tracking individuals, warning about the presence of marine mammals, and evaluating their health and activities. Participants gain access to AI-driven tools and resources for studying marine mammal behavior and communication, enhancing on-water experiences while contributing to conservation efforts.

Thank you so much to everyone who shared their stories with us in this year's #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge. Learning more about your work and presenting it to our community has been a privilege. We look forward to helping you share your conservation tech innovations and successes with our global community for years to come, and we hope to shine an even brighter spotlight on all of the vital work you do soon.

If you'd like to see all of this year's #Tech4Wildlife entry highlights and select posts from previous challenges, visit our #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge collection. Visit our Community Choice Awards announcement to see who you chose as your top honorees this year. 

Thank you again for joining our eighth annual #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge - we can't wait to celebrate with you again next year!

Special thanks to our judging panel: The WILDLABS Team (Stephanie O'Donnell, Ellie Warren, Talia Speaker, Jake Burton, Maddie Federici, Fanni Varhelyi, and Esther Githinji), Anny Liang, Omar Torrico, Virginia Frediani, and Abigail Entwistle. We appreciate your help in celebrating this year's #Tech4Wildlife honorees!

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