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IoT in the Wild: Vodafone tackles human-wildlife conflict with new solution

22 May 2023Technology news
2 minute read

Imagine having lions or tigers roaming the area around your house or place or work. For some people, this is a reality - and it can lead to costly or even deadly consequences.

In Kenya, for example, a wandering elephant or lion could lead to a complete loss of crops or livestock for smallholder farmers. Situations like these often lead to dangerous confrontations between humans and wildlife, which impact not only the safety and economy of communities in rural Africa, but also the efforts to conserve many fragile species.

The human-wildlife conflict

Human-wildlife conflict is when encounters between humans and wildlife lead to negative results for wildlife and people, such as loss of property, livelihoods or even life itself. Human-wildlife conflicts can occur wherever wildlife and human populations overlap and compete for resources.

To secure community safety, livelihoods and prevent human-wildlife conflict, we’re at the early stages of creating new technology that will help people and wildlife to coexist peacefully.

Promoting harmonious living

Using the Internet of Things (IoT), the solution will work 24/7 using a combination of solar power and rechargeable batteries.

Three to four cameras will search the entire circumference of a given area, which is illuminated with infra-red lights, to sense when an animal is approaching. Using a combination of deep learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and other computer vision algorithms, animals are detected and identified, triggering an appropriate deterrent such as flashing lights or a specific noise. Elephants, for example, are known to be deterred by the sound of a swarm of African bees.

At the same time, IoT connectivity is used to send SMS alerts to the local community, and wider alerts and reports via our cloud server. These alerts contain information including the time, location and species identified, as well as what deterrent was activated.

The AI runs on a Raspberry Pi and the entire system is housed in a robust and weatherproof enclosure.

We caught up with the team to find out more:

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Beyond Africa

Around the world, we can see many examples of human-wildlife conflict.

In Canada, the way the land is being used is causing habitat fragmentation and a rise in human-bear conflict, while a study in India found that over 50% of widows of tiger and crocodile attack victims suffered from poor physical and mental health and in Norway, the conflict over wolves has become a symbol of the rural-urban divide.

“The UN’s Global Biodiversity Framework agreed in December 2022 includes a target to minimise human wildlife conflict for coexistence, we believe this new technology can help achieve this and bring positive change to the communities and animals facing these tough challenges,” said Joe Griffin, Project co-lead and Senior Manager Sustainability Strategy at Vodafone.

Partnering with WWF, we hope to find more ways of using technology to help address conservation and sustainability challenges.

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  • IoT
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  • SDG 15
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  • Technology
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