China is using cutting-edge technologies including Artificial Intelligence and big data to monitor endangered Amur tigers and leopards.
According to Global Times, experts at the International Forum on Tiger and Leopard Transboundary Conservation in Harbin, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province made the announcement on Sunday.
“Infrared cameras, AI and big data have helped us improve the establishment of a database of Amur tigers and leopards,” Jiang Guangshun, a deputy director of the Natural Forestry and Grassland Administration, said at the forum.
“For example, the infrared camera can detect the tiger, and then AI will help analyze the tiger species, the weight and height, which will be marked in the database.”
Jiang noted the number of Amur tigers and leopards is increasing under the protection of China, the report said.
Their team has successfully monitored tigers through more than 4,000 infrared camera video clips and leopards in more than 600 clips, covering 12,000 kilometers of tiger and leopard habitats in China’s Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces.
According to Jiang, the number of tigers living in China is higher than in Russia in the 1950s, but the density of large prey is not high for the tigers and leopards.
By comparing the data of tigers and leopards of China and Russia from 2013 to 2015, they found that the populations of 17 tigers and 42 leopards are not separate tallies, but a shared total of both China and Russia.
“China distributes four of six extant tiger subspecies and four of nine extant leopard subspecies in the world, which requires China to establish a massive Pilot Tiger-Leopard Protected Area,” said Feng Limin, deputy director of the NFGA Amur Tiger and Amur Leopard Monitoring and Research Center.
China is the only country in the world that can send real-time information of the endangered animals in a large-scale field to the research institute, Feng told the Global Times.
He said that China is considering the use of 5G to deliver the information within a fast time if the capacity keeps expanding for animal information.
China and Russia signed the Joint Statement on Developing Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Interaction Entering a New Era June 5, stating that they will deepen cooperation and protection of endangered wild animals including the Amur tigers and leopards and their natural reservations, and jointly monitoring the animals, making sure that the endangered animals in Northeast China can freely migrate across the Sino-Russian border.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, Amur tigers were once found throughout the Russian Far East, northern China and the Korean peninsula.
By the 1940s, hunting had driven the Amur tiger to the brink of extinction—with no more than 40 individuals remaining in the wild. The subspecies was saved when Russia became the first country in the world to grant the tiger full protection.
By the 1980s, the Amur tiger population had increased, but poaching also increased after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Conservation and antipoaching efforts by many partners—including WWF—have helped keep the population stable.
The Amur tiger’s habitat is now restricted to the Sikhote-Alin range in the Primorski and Khabarovsk provinces of the Russian Far East, small pockets in the border areas of China and possibly in North Korea.
People usually think of leopards in the savannas of Africa but in the Russian Far East, a rare subspecies has adapted to life in the temperate forests that make up the northern-most part of the species’ range.
Similar to other leopards, the Amur leopard can run at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour. This incredible animal has been reported to leap more than 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically.
The Amur leopard is also known as the Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard or the Korean leopard.
Sources: Global Times, World Wildlife Fund