A group has launched a more than $3 million dollar exercise that uses Artificial Intelligence technology to provide data to help ascertain the numbers of elephants, animal corridors and human settlements around the conservation areas in its member states.
Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is the biggest at 520 000 square kilometres and carries an estimated 250 000 elephants despite fluctuations between the porous borders of each neighbouring state.
Dr Russell Taylor, WWF Conservation Advisor
"The survey will show you the first ever large landscape survey undertaken in this part of the world. Will, first of all, provide us with a more reliable estimate of how many elephants we have but most importantly as well, where they are; where they are distributed. That distribution pattern will allow us to see where they exist in relation to human patterns of settlement and where there might be opportunities to create corridors to allow elephants to move and thereby try and alleviate as far as possible conflict with people."
A week-long experts training workshop to capacitate and select observers who will be part of the first ever coordinated Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area-KAZA, Elephant Wide Aerial Survey started Thursday in Kasane Town of Botswana.
"We are hoping to move into using new technology to replace the human eye and get hopefully very good data but it will enable us to be more consistent and have to do less training, less set up time to get the surveys going. So what we do is taking advantage of the fact that some of these cameras have a high enough resolution for us to be able to see not only elephants but animals down to the size of a warthog." - Howard Frederick, Ecologist.
The more than two million people who live alongside the animals have seen an increase in Human-Wildlife conflict which isattributed to an upsurge in elephant numbers, climate c hange and human development.