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17 March 2022, 10:00

Wildlife under better protection in China thanks to rollout of new technologies


JILIN, 17 March (BelTA - Xinhua). - Thanks to the introduction of various technological innovations, China is now protecting wildlife in a more efficient way, with over 80 percent of the nature reserves across the country having been installed with infrared cameras.

A national park in northeast China's Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces for Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, which was among the first batch of national parks in the country, is equipped with a monitoring system incorporating new technologies such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence, real-time information transmission, as well as 42 base stations and over 3,000 wireless cameras.

Covering most sections of the park, the monitoring system is able to monitor wildlife abundance and diversity in the park, and has provided a means to collect a great deal of information that serves as a precious database resource. The footage captured by infrared cameras and high-resolution cameras helps the park's rangers to look out for creatures living in the area, study their behaviors, and combat any illegal hunting. So far, over 4,000 instances of movements by Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, and over 1 million cases of different wild animals, such as sika deer, and related scenes in the natural environment have been recorded by the system.

Similarly, a smart management platform supported by the Internet, IoT, remote-sensing satellites, drones and a geographic information system (GIS) is in place at the Wuyishan National Park in southeast China's Fujian Province. With 10 sub-platforms, it provides a variety of functions that include monitoring natural resources, issuing warnings on and preventing forest fires, and guarding against the presence of harmful biological organisms.

“The cameras guarantee the 24-hour monitoring of forest fires,” introduced an official from the national park's management bureau. “Thanks to automatic smoke detection, a sub-platform can identify and report a wildfire and provide the location.”

In the past, it was hard to locate rangers patrolling in the forest, let alone trying to cope with any emergencies. But now these kinds of problems no longer exist. Chinese telecom equipment supplier ZTE Corporation, for example, has developed a system for predicting extreme weather and tracking rangers on patrol tours. Empowered by 5G technology, it is now in use in the Deyang section of the Giant Panda National Park in southwest China's Sichuan Province. With its precise positioning function, it can effectively protect rangers in the wild. Besides, rangers can send messages, photos and videos to relevant experts to report their findings during patrolling, in this way dealing with incidents in a more timely manner while out on a patrol.

These advanced technologies have also made conservation efforts more targeted, as evidenced by the protection of big cat populations in the wild. According to Feng Limin, deputy director at a monitoring and research center for Siberian tigers and Amur leopards under the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, researchers will record and study the conditions of different tigers by analyzing their stripes with the help of a technology-powered monitoring system, with these tiger stripes being unique like human fingerprints and with no two tigers sharing the same stripe patterns.

“Collecting data such as the facial images of tigers was very time-consuming in the past,” said Feng. “Now assisted by new technologies like artificial intelligence, researchers can locate tigers more easily, and identify each individual, which makes our conservation efforts more targeted,” Feng added.

Moreover, technologies have made it possible for wildlife conservation efforts to go beyond the scope of nature reserves. China's Internet giants Alibaba and Baidu launched a program promoting wildlife protection called the “green net plan.” Users searching for ivory tusks and pangolin scales on Taobao, Alibaba's main e-commerce site will be directed to a page with knowledge on relevant species that promotes the protection of wild animals.

Similarly, Tencent, another Chinese tech giant, developed a mini program about snow leopards on WeChat, a popular messaging app in China, together with several partners, such as the World Wildlife Fund. The mini program provides pictures and knowledge on the species and enables users to help “protect” the species as a one-time forest ranger while venturing into some of the country's nature reserves with their smart phones, helping raise public awareness on the importance of protecting wild animals.

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