Andy Luck beside Elephant awareness sign in Namibia.

Andy Luck beside Elephant awareness sign in Namibia.

How would you like to participate in an aerial survey of African Elephants? Well now we all can, thanks to Save The Elephants NGO (Source Save The Elephants email) .

Does this seem like a good way to help on a cold winter’s day? It is very engaging!

The survey website says:

We’re introducing a new method to our research in partnership with our supporter, Ivory Ella. It’s a counting project created on an online platform dedicated to people-powered research called Zooniverse. And we want you to join the counting fun! All you need to do is register online, put on your detective hat and with your sharp eyes go through the images until you find one containing animal/s and then count the elephants, other wildlife and livestock in the image.

“Elephants and other large mammals on the savannahs of Africa have been counted in much the same way since the 1960s. Technology now promises a new era of vastly improved accuracy at dramatically reduced cost. But to get there we need your help.

For the last half century wildlife numbers have been estimated using small bushplanes to fly transect lines across the vast landscapes, with human observers counting the various species that they see from the air. At Save The Elephants we’ve been counting elephants for forty odd years to assess the distribution of the existing population and put better responses and management plans in place for their protection.

A new future beckons. Modern cameras can capture sharp images at speed, and can pick out details in shadows in an otherwise bright scene. Drones are improving every day, and before long will be able to carry the cameras cheaply and effectively. This leaves only one element: spotting the wildlife in the photos, identifying the species and counting them.

That’s where you come in. Algorithms are being developed to help spot wildlife in photographs, but we’re not quite there yet. In the meantime we need human eyes, and human brains, to do the spotting and counting. The 183,000 images taken at a recent trial aerial census in Tsavo will take over 6 months for 12 professionals to count. We’re hoping the citizens of the world can help us finish it quicker!”

Good luck!