article / 3 March 2019

#Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge: Our Favourites from 2019

Happy World Wildlife Day! To celebrate, this week we've asked our community to share photos showing how they are using tech in the field or the lab, using the #Tech4Wildlife hashtag. 

This is our fourth year celebrating World Wildlife Day with the #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge. Every year, we discover new people and projects who are pushing technology to provide better tools to help us understand, monitor and protect our natural world.

This year, we’ve seen more than 150 photos and videos shared showing all the ways you’re using #tech4wildlife. Early entries included acoustic tracking of endangered hawksbill sea turtles in Ecuador, camera traps watching snow leopards in Mongolia, and 3D cameras mounted on drones filming river dolphins in the Amazon. This year, entries into our challenge have been shared 1,001 times, received 4,195 likes and reached 520,000 people. We've collated all this year's entries into a Twitter Moment, so click through below to have a browse through all the entries and conversations we saw spring up around this year's challenge. 

Tech4wildlife 2019 Moment

Our #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge culminates every year with our countdown of our top ten favourites on World Wildlife Day. Check out the fantastic entries that took out honours in this year's challenge. 

10. Opening our #tech4wildlife countdown is Wildlife Insights. This is a project we're watching with interest - a collaboration across six conservation organisations and Google to build a camera trap platform for easy uploads and sharing to unite data around the world.

We’re using #Tech4Wildlife in a big way! Collaborating across 6 conservation organizations and @Google to build a camera trap platform for easy uploads and sharing to unite data around the world.

— Wildlife Insights (@WildInsights) February 25, 2019

9. The UCL ExCiteS team are next, with their #tech4wildlife work to give local communities the tools to collect and share their own data about wildlife. And we particularly appreciate that they included the github respository if you want to find out more. 

Last November, @meganjlaws and team tested our Sapelli tap&map prototype with trackers in north-east Namibia to support the collection & sharing of data on the health & movement of wildlife within the region #Tech4wildlife @WILDLABSNET @ERC_Research funded

— ExCiteS (@UCL_ExCiteS) February 27, 2019

8. Adrian Hughes and the RSPB Science team are using all sorts of #tech4wildlife. They're working with Microsoft_Green to find more efficient ways to sort through camera trap data, in this case from their Gola rainforest project.

We are right now working with @Microsoft_Green to put bounding boxes around species in our Gola Rainforest camera trap photos to help use machine learning for image classification @RSPBScience @Golarainforest #tech4wildlife

— Adrian Hughes (@AdieHughes) February 26, 2019

Other projects shared by RSPB Science this year include their work using pit tags and loggers to monitor nesting birds, and a pile of colourful collars for grazing patterns and animal welfare on a number of reserves

For @projectgodwit we use pit tags to identify which birds are associated with each nest. Loggers are inserted near the nest for 24hours, if a bird with pit tags sits on the nests its code get recorded #tech4wildlife @WWTworldwide @WWTWelney @LIFEprogramme

— RSPB Science (@RSPBScience) February 28, 2019

7. USAID Manila is using #tech4wildlife to track pangolins and learn more about the ecology of this endangered species. Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal, with more than one million pangolins poached in the past decade. #worldwildlifeday

USAID harnesses #Tech4Wildlife conservation by using camera traps to record the Philippine pangolins in the forests to learn more about these endangered species…but not only did the camera captures roaming pangolins at night…see them all! @WILDLABSNET

— USAID Philippines (@USAID_Manila) March 2, 2019

6. Open Wild takes out #tech4wildlife sixth place with their acoustic bio-loggers with 3D printed casings. They built their own acoustic loggers using off-the-shelf hardware, and intend to make the design open source after they've finished testing

We're using #tech4wildlife in the form of acoustic bio-loggers with 3D printed casings. These devices can be easily attached to existing GPS collars and provide valuable information on animal behaviour. @WILDLABSNET

— OpenWild (@OpenWildOrg) February 27, 2019

Before we share our #tech4wildlife top five, a few honourable mentions...

Honourable Mention: Álvaro García Olaechea who shared a camera trapping project, but focused on the excitement he shares with workers and family when they look through photos together to find what animals have been captured.

After setting some #cameratraps in cacao #agroforestry of the Atlantic Forest, I usually share the photos with the workers and family. They are always excited about wildlife! #Tech4Wildlife @WILDLABSNET @Leac_Uesc @InsideNatGeo @NatGeoExplorers #cabruca #scicomm

— Álvaro García Olaechea (@alvaro_garcia_o) March 1, 2019

Honourable Mention: Wetlands International for their #tech4wildlife capacity building work with local stakeholders in Senegal. Tech alone won't lead to improved conservation outcomes, we need to invest in training and ongoing support alongside tech deployment.

@WetlandsAfrica is building capacity with local stakeholders, integrating drone and remote sensing tech, to monitor #mangrove forests in Senegal, valuable coastal habitat for manatees and waterbirds #Tech4Wildlife @WILDLABSNET @AberUni @DJIGlobal @Mangroves

— Wetlands Int. (@WetlandsInt) February 25, 2019

Honourable Mention: Boxfish Research for some incredible images captured with an ROV under the sea ice at McMurdo Sound, Antartica. We're keen to learn more the boxfish ROV and it's applications, so stay tuned!

These stunning images were recently captured under the sea ice at McMurdo Sound using the highly capable Boxfish ROV in Antarctica.#tech4wildlife #Antarctic #underwater #drone@WILDLABSNET @AntarcticaNZ @TPAonIce @marinebrit

— BOXFISH RESEARCH (@boxfishresearch) March 3, 2019

5. Roland Kays takes out fifth spot in our #tech4wildlife countdown. His project with Martin Wikelski, Jacob Hill and Rob Dunn on a new and improved cat tracker to see how much pet cats hunt native species generated a lot of interest and discussion.

This year I am working w @martinwikelski@CitrusFlavorrr @RRobDunn on a new an improved cat tracker GPS + ACC to try and figure out where and how much pet cats hunt native species.#Tech4Wildlife @WILDLABSNET

— Roland Kays (@RolandKays) February 25, 2019

4. Claire Burke is next, with her work using machine learning, thermal cameras and drones to find and monitor endangered animals automatically.

We're using machine learning, thermal cameras and drones to find and monitor endangered animals automatically. Animals glow brightly in thermal images making them really easy to spot, and the ML can tell species apart from their unique thermal shapes #tech4wildlife @WILDLABSNET

— Dr Claire Burke (@CBurkeSci) February 26, 2019

Want to find out more? 

  • Astro-ecology has a home page here (papers near the bottom too).
  • A citizen science project here.
  • And a few online articles for good measure

3. Taking out third place in our #tech4wildlife countdown is Equilibrio Azul, who are using acoustic trackers to monitor critically endangered hawksbill seaturtle hatchlings in Machalilla National Park, Ecuador. A big part of why we run the #tech4wildlife photo challenge is to encourage people to share and connect about what they're doing with technology - unknowingly replicating effort/projects and starting from scratch unnecessarily is a big challenge in conservation tech.

Acoustic tracking of neonate hawksbill sea turtles (critically endangered) in the Eastern Pacific Ocean to find out where do they go when they learn to swim! #Tech4Wildlife

— Equilibrio Azul (@equilibrioazul) February 27, 2019

Which is why we loved seeing all the questions come in about Equilibrio Azul's project. This included Sergio Reyes, who is working with turtles in the Colombian Pacific and is interested in using bioacoustics.

Hola, como lo están haciendo?Nosotros trabajamos con tortugas en el Pacífico Colombiano y nos interesa la Bioacústica

— Sergio Reyes (@KamanaRidgeback) February 28, 2019

We're interested to hear whether anything comes out of this connection, so please do keep us posted!

2. In second place in #tech4wildlife 2019 is Defenders of Wildlife, who pilot new databases and applications to easily educate, discover and share valuable information about endangered species. 

We pilot new databases & applications to easily educate & share valuable information about #endangeredspecies, like charts of threats to green #seaturtles: #Tech4Wildlife #ScienceFriday

— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders) March 1, 2019

Compared to thermal imagining of rhinos, camera traps at the top of trees, or ROVs under the antarctic ice, the #tech4wildlife Defenders of Wildlife shared was relatively unassuming. But simple #tech4wildlife is often the most effective.

The #EndangeredSpeciesAct requires a review of listed species once every 5 years but this often occurs behind schedule. We create simple web tools to show how funding shortfalls impede the ESA's effectiveness & progress: #Tech4Wildlife #ScienceFriday

— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders) March 1, 2019

Defenders of Wildlife shared neat videos of their apps at work. This one used satellite images on & from Google Earth EarthOutreach, allowing users to run machine learning algorithms to detect changes used for wildlife conservation 

We develop applications, using satellite images on & from @googleearth & @EarthOutreach, that allows users to run machine learning algorithms to detect changes on the Earth's surface used for #wildlife & habitat #conservation: #Tech4Wildlife

— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders) March 1, 2019

1. This year, World Wildlife Day is celebrating life in the world’s oceans, so it's fitting that our top #tech4wildlife honour is taken out by Regina Eisert with her incredible photos from her work in Antarctica.

#Tech4Wildlife captured this portrait of an #Antarctic #TypeCKillerWhale surfacing through a hole in the #seaice. Shot with our #WhalfieStick by Dr Ben Sharp from @MPI_NZ@WILDLABSNET@UCNZ@AntarcticaNZ@PewEnvironment@unenvironment#Antarctica#RossSea#RossSearegionMPA

— Regina Eisert (@TPAonIce) March 2, 2019

Her photos are incredible, but the #tech4wildlife is equally interesting. Regina went on to share that with the help of @antzkiwi, they built a multi-media whale trap combining acoustic monitoring with surface and underwater camera traps.

#Tech4Wildlife With @Antzkiwi we built the #multimediawhaletrap combining #acousticmonitoring with surface and #underwater #cameratraps. The #Whales showed up before we were done installing and came back for #whalfies@WILDLABSNET @marinebrit @UCNZ @PewEnvironment @AntarcticaNZ

— Regina Eisert (@TPAonIce) March 2, 2019

Regina's team work off the sea ice in McMurdo Sound, which provides really good conditions for setting 'whale traps'. Stable sea ice, lots of whales, and water as clear as gin (her words).

#Tech4Wildlife Demonstrating what a game-changer the #multimediawhaletrap is for studying some of the more introverted #whales such as this #Antarctic #minkewhale@WILDLABSNET @Antzkiwi @marinebrit @UCNZ @PewEnvironment @AntarcticaNZ #RossSea

— Regina Eisert (@TPAonIce) March 2, 2019

Regina Eisert wrapped up her #tech4wildlife entry with this beautiful video of a minke whale captured under the ice with their whale trap.

#Tech4Wildlife …. and check out this sweet sweet #whale eye candy captured with the #multimediawhaletrap @Antzkiwi built for us …. @WILDLABSNET @marinebrit @UCNZ @PewEnvironment @AntarcticaNZ #RossSea #Antarctic #minkewhale #cetacean @UNEnvironment

— Regina Eisert (@TPAonIce) March 2, 2019

For the first time in my life, I actually cried with happiness. I didn't know that was actually a thing. Wow. Thank you soooo much

— Regina Eisert (@TPAonIce) March 3, 2019

Holy rusted metal, #Batman! We just won the #tech4wildlife challenge! @TPAonIce @AntarcticaNZ @DFO_MAR @boxfishresearch @SCBMarine @Society4ConBio #SciComm #NotSureWhatToSay!

— Andrew Wright (@marinebrit) March 3, 2019

Congratulation Regina, and to everyone who joined us for the #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge 2019! It's been phenomenal to discover so many new people and projects using #tech4wildlife in unexpected ways.

We'll see you back here next year for the fifth annual #Tech4wildlife Photo Challenge. Launching 26th February, 2020. We can't wait!

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