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SXSW 2021

Wildlife Rangers Armed with AI

In a world of environmental upheaval, wildlife poaching is a growing threat to species and ecosystems worldwide. The global illegal wildlife industry brings in 19 billion dollars a year. Rangers on the front lines often patrol vast expanses, in some cases the size of small countries, and are tasked with incredibly dangerous jobs. According to the International Ranger Foundation and the Thin Green Line Foundation, 871 rangers have been killed in the line of duty since 2009. Cutting-edge AI could be a solution to both thwarting crime and keeping rangers safe. A number of wildlife parks around the world are now using PAWS (Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security), which uses machine learning, AI planning and behavior modeling to predict where and when wildlife crimes will occur.

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  1. This AI system helps predict where poaching may occur and has already been successful.
  2. Using AI in areas with limited resources could be a gamechanger for conservationists and rangers on the frontlines.
  3. AI is a valuable resource for solving ecological issues.



Sarah Sulick, Public Affairs Specialist, National Science Foundation

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