Teen Invents Device To Track Elephant Poachers In Real-Time

Who says anyone is too young to make an impact on this world? It’s always wonderful to see young people making a significant contribution to the planet’s future, and a 7-year-old high school student, Anika Puri, has come up with a cost-effective manner of tracking elephant poachers in real-time.

As reported by Smithsonian Magazine, Anika has invented a machine-learning-driven model that observes the movement patterns of both humans and elephants.

Photo: Pexels/Katie Hollamby

She calls it ElSa – short for elephant savior – and she invented it saying that drone devices can sometimes be inaccurate when tracking elephant poachers.

Anika has explained that her ElSa invention is four times more effective than drones since the technology she uses can analyse movement patterns in thermal infrared videos of both humans and elephants.

According to The Times, the 17-year-old, who originally comes from New York, said, “I realized that we could use this disparity between these two movement patterns in order to actually increase the detection accuracy of potential poachers.”

Photo: Pexels/Mikhail Nilov

Not only is it effective at its job, but it also saves money in the long run as it cuts out the need to purchase expensive high-resolution thermal cameras. In fact, ElSa uses a $250 FLIR ONE Pro thermal camera plugged into an iPhone 6.

The camera and iPhone, while connected to a drone, can then fly around and pick up movement and determine whether its coming from a human or an elephant. She became inspired four years ago after she took a trip to India and came across a Bombay market where they were selling huge amounts of ivory jewelry.

Anika recalled, “I was quite taken aback. Because I always thought, ‘well, poaching is illegal, how come it really is still such a big issue?’”

Photo: YouTube/SocietyforScience

She did some research, and was surprised to learn that Africa’s forest elephant population had declined by about 62% between the years 2002 and 2011. This prompted her to want to do something. And she definitely understood the assignment on this one – an equipment ecologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Jasper Eikelbloom, was impressed by the quality and the low budget, calling it “remarkable.”

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Eikelbloom said, “In ecology in general, we like to track animals and see what they’re doing and how it impacts the ecosystem. And if we look, for example, on the satellite data, we can find a lot of moving patterns, but we don’t know what species they are. I think it’s a very smart move to look at these movement patterns themselves instead of only at the image—at the pixels—to determine what kind of species it is.”

Check out the video down below:

What do you think of Anika’s invention? Let us know!

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