QUT is using drones and artificial intelligence to support wildlife recovery over large tracts of bushfire affected areas.

Drones to seek out surviving koalas

Recent bushfires have devastated koala populations across Australia. Estimates suggest up to 40 per cent of the population in New South Wales has been wiped out.

Already close to endangered, the need to preserve this species is critical. We need to find the koalas and other wildlife that have survived.

It can be very difficult to spot koalas from ground level, even for expert observers. QUT researchers have been using drones and artificial intelligence (AI) detection to spot them from above – a faster and more accurate method.

This leading-edge technique for detecting koalas involves using drones fitted with infrared cameras and software containing an algorithm to identify the heat signatures of koalas.

Project lead, Associate Professor Grant Hamilton, has already conducted field trials that are helping to map koala populations across Queensland and New South Wales to inform effective conservation decisions.

Efforts are now focused on conducting post-bushfire monitoring over affected areas and developing the AI algorithm to automatically detect other vulnerable species.

Improving wildlife recovery methods

The scope of this project can be scaled to operate across large regions of Australia.

With many of our native wildlife becoming extinct at alarming rates, drone and AI detection offer a consistent and efficient method for managing populations.

As we develop algorithms than enable more species to be detected, this becomes an ever more powerful approach for monitoring and saving our wildlife and the environment.

drone flying in bushland

Your gift will help:

  • detect and map wildlife across large tracts of bushfire affected areas
  • plan recovery efforts
  • improve wildlife populations and the sustainability of large areas of wilderness
  • develop an algorithm to increase the number of species able to be detected
  • support drone surveys in partnership with national wildlife protection organisations

The real world impact of your gift

Your gift will go towards improved monitoring to assist with wildlife recovery and inform effective conservation decisions.

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