SAS Helps WildTrack Save Endangered Species
Tuesday, September 7, 8:04 am ET
What began with rhinos has been extended to other species
CARY, N.C., Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Newly launched wildlife conservation organization WildTrack, together with SAS, the leader in business intelligence, is using a unique, non-invasive monitoring technique to save endangered species in the wild. Using SAS® software, WildTrack's footprint identification technique has already helped save the black rhino population in Zimbabwe and has provided a census of white rhinos in Namibia.
Current projects include the world's most endangered black rhino subspecies, living in Cameroon; the most endangered of all rhinoceros species, the Sumatran rhino in Borneo; the lowland tapir in Argentina; the Bengal tiger in India and Bangladesh; and the most endangered large cat in the world, the Iberian lynx in Spain and Portugal.
WildTrack's unique footprint identification technique analyzes the data collected from wild animals' footprints using advanced statistical algorithms on geometric profiles derived from digital images of footprints. The data collected by the footprint identification technique is analyzed and compared with other footprints in the database using software from both SAS and JMP, a business unit of SAS, to enable researchers to identify individual animals and to assess group numbers with greater accuracy. The software is customized for each species so that multiple conservation projects can proceed simultaneously. The huge advantage of the WildTrack approach is that its non- invasive techniques allow monitoring to be done without disturbing the natural behaviors of the animals.
What began with rhinos is now not only being applied to tigers and other endangered species at an individual level, but also at a species level. WildTrack's latest project involves monitoring the Iberian lynx, the most endangered carnivore in the world. With only 150 members of the species left, WildTrack is working with Spanish authorities to build a library of footprints to develop an algorithm that distinguishes lynx footprints from other carnivores, such as otters and genet cats.
"Increasingly, governments and authorities require hard evidence of the existence of endangered animals before they will listen to guidance about protecting its habitat. Moving forward, we hope to incorporate biometrics and other technology into our projects to help speed up the identification of animals," said Zoe Jewell, co-founder of WildTrack.
Sky Alibhai, co-founder of WildTrack explained: "We are looking at working with field projects and groups around the world to feed us footprints and data so that we can continue to work remotely on projects and the conservation process."
Alastair Sim, director of marketing, SAS UK, commented: "We are privileged to work with WildTrack and see SAS software being applied in such a progressive and innovative way. WildTrack provides inspiration to a range of organizations across the globe through its commitment to developing and applying non-invasive techniques in order to further the protection of endangered species."
SAS has supported WildTrack, formerly known as RhinoWatch, with support and software since 1998. For more information on WildTrack's activities, visit http://www.wildtrack.org.
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