AI and drones are helping scientists study secrets of elephant behavior


A biotech startup aiming to bring back the woolly mammoth is partnering with an elephant conservation organization to use drones and AI to track African elephants and study their behavior.

The big picture: High-tech tools are increasingly being deployed to digitize forests, track elephants, reduce conflict between people and lions, and record migrating birds.

How it works: Colossal Biosciences and Save the Elephants are using a small fleet of drones with high-resolution and infrared cameras to observe African elephants in Samburu National Park in Kenya.

  • Researchers with Save the Elephants have tracked and monitored more than 900 elephants in the area for 15 years, gathering information that they will now use to label individuals in new data collected by drones.
  • Colossal will then use pose estimation, a computer vision technique that can identify the joints of a body (the left knee, right shoulder or tip of the tail) in a video and output them as coordinates in space, to develop AI models that can automatically identify individual elephants.
  • They’ll also use behavioral analysis tools to study the decision-making and social behavior of herds.

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