Africa is losing its most at-risk species due to poaching. At the current rate, elephants and rhinos will be extinct in the next 10 years. The company 400ft is using AI and drones to identify wildlife and poachers on the ground – allowing rangers to respond faster and stay safe while doing so.
Mainza Moono, Founder & CEO, 400ft.ai
The conservation challenge
Sub-Saharan Africa is in the midst of a long-standing poaching crisis that threatens the existence of key wildlife species. Every 9 hours, a rhino is killed for its horn, and every 14 minutes an elephant slaughtered for its ivory tusks by poachers. Wildlife stakeholders across Africa are spending millions of dollars a year on wildlife conservation efforts, but the continent continues to lose the battle to save its most at-risk species from poachers. Today’s traditional conservation efforts can often be costly and inefficient. For example, stakeholders fly rented helicopters or other light aircraft, drive Land Rovers and set up base camps with 15 to 20 rangers to patrol their parks on foot in order to protect their game – this is dangerous work for the rangers involved.
National Parks, Game Reserves and Conservancies today need a solution to effectively and efficiently conserve wildlife on the African continent. At 400ft.ai, the team leverages AI and drone technology to identify wildlife and poachers on the ground – by working together with machines, rangers can accomplish more by doing less. With intelligent visibility from the sky, there is an opportunity to have a huge impact on wildlife conservation.
The team at 400ft.ai is taking a deep learning-based approach, choosing specifically to leverage object detection algorithms using convolutional neural networks.
The team has learnt that creating a product (software and/or hardware) that works in the field solves only half the problem. The other half of the problem is ensuring that the product is a low cost, highly scalable solution that can be introduced across the continent – there are hundreds of National Parks, Game Reserves and Conservancies in Africa.
400ft.ai wants to partner and collaborate with stakeholders who are excited about leveraging innovative (exponential) technologies for conservation in Africa!
For 400ft to scale, they have to collaborate with wildlife stakeholders who are open to and excited about leveraging innovative technologies for conservation on the African continent. In their pilot, they will partner with stakeholders who already own and operate their own fleet of drones. The team is already in the process of fine tuning machine vision models that will be specifically trained to identify wildlife and poachers from aerial drone footage. Their goal is to initially test the models in the field, and successfully show the powerful capabilities of leveraging AI for wildlife conservation.