How technology is helping to bring us closer to wildlife

How technology is helping to bring us closer to wildlife

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We use technology for a multitude of different purposes today, from keeping in touch with our friends to catching up on the latest world news.

It can seem as though the world of wildlife is quite far removed from this high-speed, gadget-dominated existence, but we've actually been noticing a number of different ways that the two are coming together recently.

And the great thing is that tech is opening up a raft of new conservation options for wildlife all over the world, as well as helping to encourage people to appreciate the animals, birds and plants around them on a daily basis.

New wildlife tech developments

For instance, Cornell University in the US recently reported that its ornithology department has created a new image recognition tool for birds called Merlin, which can recognise 400 different species based on photographs.

Although it is only for North America and Canada at the moment (and the software is still 'learning' recognition techniques), the hope is that it can be rolled out worldwide in the not-too-distant future.

Having this kind of software as an app might help people who are unable to recognise species of birds to learn more about them and develop a connection with them. 

Another key way in which tech is helping wildlife is through tracking and monitoring. We recently reported that the British Trust for Ornithology is tracking Common Cuckoos from the UK in a bid to learn more about their migration patterns, something that could shed light on their dwindling population numbers.

Elsewhere, the RSPB used a satellite tag to reveal the migration route of a Turtle Dove from Suffolk called Titan, a first for the species. It's part of Operation Turtle Dove, which aims to reverse the 96 per cent decline in numbers since 1970.

You might remember hearing about the Moors for the Future Partnership apps that help walkers and explorers to learn more about the wildlife they can spot out on moorland walks too - all of these new developments can only be positive for awareness and conservation.

Where next?

Continuing advances in technology can only mean more sophisticated services, apps and tools coming into being in the future.

One key area in which tech is focusing at present relates to habitats a little further afield than Britain, and that's the prevention of wildlife crime. By implementing tools at airports and customs facilities, authorities hope they will be able to cut the trade in illegal products such as ivory.

There are also drones to consider, which often get a negative press but could actually be hugely useful in capturing pictures and population data on locations that people cannot access.

Meanwhile, GIS technology is continuing to improve and get more sophisticated, allowing conservationists and wildlife experts to map things like changes in forest cover at increasingly fine resolutions.

Back to the UK and our own gardens, the chances are that we'll rely on apps and simpler forms of wildlife-related tech more than these in-depth tools.

But with technology now a ubiquitous part of our lives, it represents a great opportunity to get people talking about wildlife, as well as being more aware of it in their own green spaces. Birds and animals have obviously been there all along and it may seem frustrating that it has taken tech to get people to notice them, but if seeing 'life through a lens' can make people more appreciative of wildlife, that can surely only be a good thing - especially at a time when species need our help more than ever.

And if you want some tech that can be a boon in helping you to continue your existing love of what's out there in the great outdoors, you could always treat yourself to a scouting wildlife camera, which will take great photos or videos of anything that passes through your garden.