Artificial Intelligence Is New Weapon Against Australian
October 04, 2022
Australian scientists are harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence in the
fight against wildlife trafficking.
The technique uses 3-Dimensional X-rays at airports and post offices to detect
animals being smuggled in luggage or the mail, and algorithms then alert customs
This technology uses artificial intelligence to identify the shapes of animals
Australia has a rich diversity of flora and fauna, which has fueled an illegal
trade in wildlife.
The number of live animals seized by the Australian Border Force has tripled
since 2017, according to official data. Australian reptiles and birds are highly
Exotic species, including snakes and turtles, are also brought into the country
potentially bringing pests and diseases that could threaten farming industries
and fragile native ecosystems.
"We are teaching computers to look for trafficked wildlife in both mail and
traveler luggage pathways, said Vanessa Pirotta, a wildlife scientist at
Macquarie University in Sydney. "The way in which we do that is we scan animals
- dead animals in this case - and what we do is we scan that using 3D X-rays and
then we produce a reference library. So, lots of images with the animals
presented in different ways so the computer can go, oh, okay, I have seen this
animal before. Oh, it looks slightly different, but I think that is a lizard."
is aiming to protect its biodiversity with a new plan announced Tuesday that
aims to prevent future extinctions, updating an existing environmental policy.
Among other things, the plan includes adding fifteen animals and plants to the
endangered species list due in part to the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 and
land clearing. The government intends to curb the impact of feral species, such
as foxes and cats, that inflict untold damage on native wildlife, along with
invasive weeds. The strategy also includes reserving almost a third of Australia
for conservation to improve biodiversity. Dozens of countries, including France
and Britain, have already set similar targets.
Australia is "the mammal-extinction capital of the world," according to
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, who says previous strategies to protect
biodiversity have failed.