Colossal and Save the Elephants Use Drones and Machine Learning To Track African Elephants » Dallas Innovates

Left to proper: Wendy Kiso, Principal Scientist, Assisted Reproduction; Steve Metzler, Head of Animal Husbandry; Leah Brickson, Manager of AI and Machine Learning and Matt James, Chief Animal Officer pictured utilizing a drone in Kenya. [Photo: Colossal Biosciences]
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, Texas-based Colossal Biosciences, the world’s first de-extinction and species preservation firm, has partnered with Save the Elephants to make use of cutting-edge drone expertise and machine studying to assist monitor African elephants in Kenya.
Save the Elephants is a number one nonprofit that works to safe a future for wild African elephants and the expertise might be used for each conservation and analysis functions.
“Elephants are in dire want of further conservation applied sciences to guard them. Given Colossal’s dedication to the preservation, safety and conservation of animals and ecosystems, we’re excited for the alternative to create a brand new expertise,” Colossal co-founder and CEO Ben Lamm stated in a press release.
“With this venture, we are going to start to grasp elephant decision-making and construct fashions to raised perceive conduct,” Lamm added. “This will finally result in simpler habitat conservation and create a simpler, passive elephant monitoring system that won’t be depending on human remark in the area, or elephant immobilizations and collaring.”
Save the Elephants will deploy a small fleet of drones geared up with high-resolution and infrared cameras to seize elephant behavioral information, Colossal stated. The information gathered will then be processed by Colossal’s machine studying core to develop algorithms that may label elephants and mechanically determine particular person and collective social conduct.
“The technological sophistication of recent drones, mixed with acceptable evaluation together with the use of machine studying and AI experience, will reveal many novel insights into elephant conduct and ecology,” Fritz Vollrath of Save the Elephants stated in a press release. “And the higher we perceive elephants, the extra we will help to safe a future for these iconic giants.”
Using AI to research elephant conduct
Observation of the deployment of the elephant monitoring drones. [Image: Colossal Biosciences]
Colossal, which has operations in Dallas, stated that the AI fashions it developed will detect, monitor, and map the location of elephants of their pure habitat.
Colossal stated that pose estimation and conduct evaluation methods will then analyze the indicators, choice making, and social dynamics of elephant herds. Ultimately, these instruments might be used to assist researchers at Save the Elephants perceive and arrange the huge quantities of video information that’s being collected, standardize conduct detection, enable for the particular person conduct remark of a complete herd over very long time frames, and uncover nuanced behaviors which will go unnoticed by human observers.
“This initiative has put Colossal one step nearer to revolutionizing the safety and preservation of all elephant species,” stated Matt James, Colossal’s chief animal officer. “By figuring out revolutionary approaches to preserve these endangered species, we’ve been capable of perceive their conduct in the wild higher than ever earlier than.”
Elephants are a keystone species and are prime contributors to sustaining the vitality and biodiversity of their ecosystems, Colossal added.
Wildlife crime, poaching, and conflicts have led to sharp decline in elephants
Colossal stated that the progress of wildlife crime and poaching, in addition to human-elephant battle has led to a pointy decline in Asian, African, and Forest elephants. It stated that poaching claimed greater than 100,000 African elephants between 2010-2012 alone, whereas elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), a virus Colossal is dedicated to eradicating, has been chargeable for about half of all deaths of younger elephants in human care.
Research information derived from the drone venture will assist develop an understanding of elephant decision-making and conduct utilizing AI fashions. It additionally will present Colossal with key information to make use of in for the eventual rewilding of the woolly mammoth, the firm stated.
Colossal stated that research have confirmed the urgency of rewilding-focused tasks due to the fast lack of many animal species, simply as the world is beginning to uncover how a lot they influence carbon seize and storage of their environments.
Colossal’s workforce spearheading this venture consists of James and Leandra Brickson, supervisor of computational sciences, who’s main the workforce making use of synthetic intelligence methods to research the drone footage collected throughout the examine.
Colossal stated it’s working intently with the Save the Elephants workforce, together with CEO Frank Pope and Vollrath, Colossal scientific adviser and Save the Elephants chairman.
The drone initiative comes on the heels of Colossal’s continued dedication to finish elephant extinction.
More advantages of the elephant examine
The firm cited different milestone efforts together with:

Preserve the genetic code of all three dwelling elephant species. Colossal partnered with the Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP) to fund, sequence, assemble, and annotate the Asian, African, and Forest elephant genomes to genetically protect the species for future generations. The Asian and African genomes had been made publicly out there in 2022 and 2023 respectively. The Forest elephant genome is scheduled for early 2024. The genomes are publicly out there for use for analysis with out restrictions.
Record and perceive extant elephant-id inhabitants genomes. Colossal will produce inhabitants sequence information on 100 African and Asian elephants to realize this purpose.
Cure EEHV in all elephant populations. Colossal Biosciences is accelerating efforts to eradicate a deadly illness affecting endangered elephants, Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (“EEHV”), the main explanation for dying in juvenile Asian elephants born in North America and of their pure vary international locations. In collaboration with Dr. Paul Ling, Colossal is main the improvement of novel therapies and a vaccine that might stop the lethal virus from infecting elephants — each in zoos and of their pure habitats.
Equip trendy elephants with traits from their ancestral area and set up new populations of elephants in low inhabitants zones of the Arctic.

Colossal has raised $225M in whole funding since launching in September 2021.
The firm simply accomplished an oversubscribed $150 million Series B financing and has introduced de-extincting three species together with the thylacine, the dodo, and the woolly mammoth, which shares 99.6 % of its DNA with the Asian elephant.

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