Nepali scientists deploy drones to count endangered crocodiles

first_imgArticle published by Sue Palminteri cameras, Critically Endangered Species, Drones, Freshwater Animals, Freshwater Ecosystems, Monitoring, Reptiles, Sensors, Surveying, Technology, UAV, Wildtech Researchers in Nepal used drone images to survey critically endangered gharial crocodiles along the banks of the Babai River, comparing their results to those of multi-team ground surveys.Analysis of the drone images produced counts of gharials and mugger crocodiles similar to those of ground survey teams, in less time and at a lower cost.The researchers stressed the importance of conducting aerial surveys when environmental conditions are most conducive, such as during the winter months when water clarity in the Babai River enables counts of gharials just under the water’s surface. The survey looked easy on paper. All they had to do was to go the Babai Valley in western Nepal and fly a drone (or unmanned aerial vehicle, UAV) along a river. But wildlife researchers Gokarna Jung Thapa, Eric Wikramanayake and Suraj Karkie soon realized that their work was fraught with elephantine challenges.“Our mission was to fly a drone over the Babai and take photos of gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) basking on the banks of the river,” said Thapa, who along with his team visited the valley in January last year. The wild elephants did not like the idea.“Our vehicle was chased by a herd of wild elephants,” he told Mongabay. “We had to speed uphill and request a truck-load of soldiers to rescue us that day.” Despite the rescue call, the resources Thapa and his team members used on their mission to count gharials were minimal compared to similar missions in the past.A pair of gharial crocodiles resting on the bank of the Babai River in western Nepal. Image courtesy of Gokarna Jung Thapa/WWF-Nepal.“In the past, enumerators, in around five groups of five, would walk long distances on the banks of the Babai to count this critically endangered species,” Thapa recalled. “We had to pay for not only their training, but also for their travel and accommodation. But now, we have shown that a three-member member team can carry out the field work with the help of a drone.”It all began in early 2017 when Thapa, who works for WWF-Nepal, was looking for ways to put to use an FPV Raptor drone procured by his office. The drone was initially bought to assist army units patrolling the national parks. However, due to frequent change in personnel and lack of adequate training, the drone was not being put to optimum use. “That was when I came up with the idea to count gharials using the drone,” Thapa said.There were three reasons why Thapa and his colleagues selected the species. “First, the gharials are critically endangered—they are limited to Nepal and India and less than 200 breeding adults survive in the wild mainly due to rampant fishing, changes in river flow and increase in poaching,” Thapa said. “Second, they are sedentary and like to bask in the sun.”The drone did not bother these gharials basking on the rocky banks of a narrow section of the Babai River in Nepal. Image courtesy of Gokarna Jung Thapa/WWF-Nepal.The third reason they liked the idea of a drone survey was because gharials form long lines along the banks of the river. This forced enumerators in earlier counts to cover long distances, but if they went too close, the animals would retreat into the water.The researchers knew they could not just walk in with their drone any time of the year. Researcher Kanchan Thapa, a co-author of the paper, says that for a species like the fresh water gharials, winter (January and February) is the best time to conduct aerial surveys. “This is the time when the water in the river is less turbid and gharials swimming above or below around 1 meter from the surface of the water can also be counted,” said Kanchan Thapa. “We chose mornings (0800–1100) and evenings (1500–1700) to capture the photographs, as these are the basking times for crocodiles,” he explained.The researchers flew the drone at a speed of 10–12 meters (33–39 feet) per second, along 12 pre-designed missions for 2.72 hours of flight time covering a total of 102 kilometers (63 miles) of river bank habitat along the Babai, which flows through the Bardia National Park. The camera on board the drone, took 11,799 photographs covering an effective surface area of 8.2 square kilometers (3.2 square miles) of the river bank.Location of Bardia National Park in western Nepal, together with the drone flight plan. Image courtesy of G.J. Thapa (2018) Counting crocodiles from the sky: monitoring the critically endangered gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) population with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems.“With drones flying at an altitude of 80m [262 ft], the gharials didn’t even notice that they were being photographed,” Gokarna Jung Thapa said.The trio could get so engrossed in the aerial survey that they often lost track of what was going on in their surroundings. “When we carry out gharial counts, we generally have groups of enumerators working together,” Gokarna Jung Thapa said. “When animals see a group of people, they try to stay away. But when they see only a few people, they don’t hesitate to attack.”This was one of the main challenges of the fieldwork. However, the area they were surveying lies inside a valley, so they could not fly the drone from a higher altitude, where there is less risk of wild animals.“If we flew the drone from a higher altitude, there was risk that it would get entangled in the bushes and we would also lose sight of it,” Gokarna Jung Thapa said. “The telemetry range of the drone is also limited.”“The other problem we faced was when landing the UAV,” he added. “We found out that it is ideal to land the drone on grass, but there were times when we had to land it on sand, and it took a toll on its wings. We also found out that fixed-wing UAV’s like the ones we used were suitable for longer missions like ours, and the quad copters were more suitable for shorter missions to observe a small number of animals.”Researcher Gokarna Jung Thapa leads a training session for security personnel to use UAV’s to monitor wild animals in Bardia National Park. For the gharial study, the fixed-wing drone carried a small camera and took nearly 12,000 images. Image courtesy of Gokarna Jung Thapa/WWF-Nepal.Once their fieldwork finished at the end of February, they began to analyze the images. This was the most difficult part of the whole endeavor, said Kanchan Thapa. Gokarna Jung Thapa and his team assembled the photographs and carefully searched for the presence of gharials and mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris), a species that shares its habitat with gharials. They selected 7,708 photographs (66 percent) of the 11,799 for stitching.“The shape and length of the snout is a feature that can used to differentiate between gharials and muggers. Gharials have a long and slender snout, while muggers have a short snout,” said Gokarna Jung Thapa. “Because the whole idea of the endeavor was to verify already available census data, we focused only on gharials, as muggers have not been counted in the recent past.”As they flew the UAV at an altitude of 80m, the researchers could not only count the number of gharials and muggers, it could also distinguish between the sexes. “We could have also estimated the approximate age of each individual gharial, but that was beyond the scope of our project,” said Gokarna Jung Thapa.The images approved by the analysts were then screened using counting software (Dynamic Venture, Inc.). Three image analysts then separately searched for crocodilians in each of the stitched photographs. “Collectively, there was consensus with a total of 64 crocodiles counted (33 gharials and 31 muggers), irrespective of age groups, and they were found spatially distributed in clusters along the Babai river bank,” wrote the authors in their paper.Gharials spotted by the drone-mounted GoPro camera during a flight over the Babai River. The clearer winter-season water allowed researchers to count gharials both on the bank and just below the water’s surface. Image courtesy of Gokarna Jung Thapa/WWF-Nepal.“We compared the UAV-derived count data with data from three replications collected from conventional gharial surveys conducted in 2016. We also compared the gharial count data with data collected over multiple temporal surveys carried out in the winter season at different time frames employing visual encounter surveys,” said the authors. The figures were found to be similar.Gokarna Jung Thapa is content that the study has shown that UAVs can be used to count freshwater species such as gharials. Kanchan Thapa believes that the same methodology could be used to count and monitor the endangered greater one-horned rhinos and other species that move slowly in the wild.As seen from above: an image taken by a drone-borne GoPro camera of gharials in the water and on the sandy banks of the Babai River. Image courtesy of Gokarna Jung Thapa/WWF-Nepal.“Our objective was to show it could be done, and we achieved it,” Gokarna Jung Thapa said. “We are now in touch with companies working on AI to speed up image processing and are also looking for thermal cameras to make the count more accurate,” he added. “With UAV counts, regular and periodic monitoring of endangered species is possible, and this enables us to carry out conservation interventions with as little lag time as possible.”Gokarna Jung Thapa said he wants to conduct a similar count in Chitwan National Park in central Nepal. Before that, he hopes to figure out a way to keep the elephants at bay.CitationThapa, G. J., Thapa, K., Thapa, R., Jnawali, S. R., Wich, S. A., Poudyal, L. P., & Karki, S. (2018). Counting crocodiles from the sky: monitoring the critically endangered gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) population with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems, 6(2), 71-82.Banner image: Gharial by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Neillsville stifles Columbus Catholic girls basketball

first_imgBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterMARSHFIELD — Neillsville put together a relentless defensive performance, holding Marshfield Columbus Catholic to just five field goals and rolling to a 35-16 victory in a Cloverbelt Conference East Division girls basketball game Tuesday night at Columbus Catholic High School.Neillsville held the Dons without a made basket in the first quarter and led 14-7 after a low-scoring first half.Neillsville (15-4, 11-3 Cloverbelt East) pushed the lead to double-digits in the fourth quarter, finishing the game on a 15-4 run.The Dons (10-9, 7-7 Cloverbelt East) ended up just 5 of 30 from the field and 4 of 11 at the free throw line in the loss.Columbus Catholic hosts Colby on Friday.(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)Warriors 35, Dons 16Neillsville 8 6 6 15 – 35Columbus Catholic 2 5 5 4 – 16NEILLSVILLE (35): Statistics not reported. Record: 15-4, 11-3 Cloverbelt Conference East Division.COLUMBUS CATHOLIC (16): Meena Thill 1-7 3-4 5, Alexandra Hutchison 0-5 0-2 0, Alishia Reigel 0-1 1-2 1, Kendra Baierl 0-0 0-0 0, Jess Trad 1-8 0-0 3, Abby Baierl 1-4 0-0 5, Natalie Pospyhalla 0-1 0-0 0, Hannah Stratman 1-2 0-0 2, Tara Brock 0-1 0-3 0, Marissa Immerfall 0-1 0-0 0. FG: 5-30. FT: 4-11. 3-pointers: 2-12 (A. Baierl 1-3, Trad 1-7, Hutchison 0-1, Pospyhalla 0-1). Rebounds: 8. Record: 10-9, 7-7 Cloverbelt East.last_img read more

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New upmarket hotel for Joburg

first_img2 June 2008Local hospitality chain Southern Sun and property developers Hyprop Investments are to build a four-star hotel at the Hyde Park Shopping Centre in Johannesburg, at a cost of R180-million, with the hotel set to open by June 2009.In a statement released last month, Southern Sun said that the development of the 132-room hotel featuring a contemporary design would offer a welcome addition to the growing demand for upmarket accommodation in Hyde Park, one of the city’s more affluent suburbs.Another motivator is the unprecedented rise in the demand for quality hotel rooms, particularly in the Sandton area, where occupancy is running high and the demand for more hotel beds is on the increase.Southern Sun MD Helder Pereira said the group’s involvement with the development was a natural progression from the company’s growth and re-positioning strategy.“Southern Sun has invested significantly in a refurbishment and expansion strategy over the past few years, and we believe that the hotel will be an exciting addition to our existing portfolio,” he said.The Southern Sun Hyde Park hotel will be built on top of the existing parking garage of the Hyde Park shopping centre, with the 132 contemporary designed rooms being built over three floors.The lifestyle area will consist of a reception area and a 60-seater restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, while a whiskey bar will provide for relaxation with friends or business associates with the finest selection of whiskeys and cigars on offer.The hotel will also have two boardrooms and a generous function room to cater for business meetings and events, adding to the large portfolio of venues around the city.An outside area will feature a pool, bar and seating for guest to relax and take in the beautiful views, while those wishing to enjoy some retail shopping will be able to use a walkway linking the hotel to the Hyde Park shopping centre.For those concerned with their fitness while away from home, a gym on the top level of the hotel will provide the opportunity to work out while enjoying the beautiful views over the upmarket northern Johannesburg suburb.“Typical of the upmarket Hyde Park area, Southern Sun Hyde Park is in the ideal location for the market category it will serve and is likely to become an upper four-star hotel of choice for many visitors to Johannesburg,” the statement read.SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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SA’s Rolene Strauss crowned Miss World

first_img14 December 2014An estimated one billion viewers around the world watched as Miss South Africa – 22- year-old Rolene Strauss – was crowned Miss World 2014 at the pageant’s final in London on Sunday.Miss Hungary Edina Kulcsar was the first runner-up, and Miss United States Elizabeth Safrit was second runner-up. The title was contested by women from 121 countries.“South Africa, this is for you,” Strauss said in an interview after the pageant, CNN reported. “I’m so proud of you and I’m proud to be your representative.”Strauss is the third South Africa to win Miss World. Penny Coelen won in 1958 and Anneline Kriel in 1974.This year marks the annual competition’s 64th event. It was held at the ExCel exhibition centre in east London, was contested by women from 121 countries.The event was presented by Tim Vincent and Megan Young, the first reigning Miss World to host her own final show.Strauss, a medical student, clasped her hands together in surprise and was presented with the sash by Young.“My country is my pride and my purpose has and will always lie within it,” Strauss said in her acceptance speech, saying she was both proud and humbled to have won.In the build-up to the finale, the contestants took part in the Miss World Challenge Events in London. These included a sports, top model and beach fashion competition, a talent contest, Beauty with a Purpose and a debate at the Oxford Union.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

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Kerry Washington Launches Major New Domestic Violence Campaign

first_imgEmmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress and advocate Kerry Washington has joined with The Allstate Foundation to raise awareness about domestic violence and the critical role that financial abuse plays in domestic violence situations.Kerry Washington designed the 2014 purple purse to raise awareness about domestic violence and financial abuse.Washington is serving as the national ambassador for Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, the signature initiative that gets Americans motivated to combat domestic violence.Washington’s role as ambassador includes designing a limited-edition purple purse that will be distributed among community leaders, Allstate agency owners, Purple Purse community partners that work directly with survivors, celebrities and media to raise awareness for the cause. The purse represents the center of a woman’s financial domain and purple is the color of national domestic violence awareness. The Allstate Foundation is also distributing Purple Purse charms through Purple Purse Challenge participants to attach to a bag or purse and show support year-round. Washington also filmed a special Public Service Announcement featuring the purse and creating a call to action for Americans to get informed and involved.Video: Kerry Washington Purple Purse PSA“A purse is where a woman’s power lives. I am really proud of this bag, and having the opportunity to design a fashion statement that carries such an important message,” said Washington. “Financial control is almost always a weapon of choice for abusers because when a victim’s access to cash is taken away or her credit is destroyed or even her employment is jeopardized, it becomes nearly impossible for her to leave.”“The Allstate Foundation wants to make it acceptable — even fashionable — to talk about domestic violence. Only by pulling back the curtain and getting involved can we ensure that victims can escape to a safer and brighter future,” said Tom Wilson, chairman, president and CEO of Allstate. “It shouldn’t take a high-profile incident in the news for us to rise up and take a stand against domestic violence. For far too long, this issue has remained in the shadows. We need to stop enabling criminals – by not letting money be a weapon of choice that, when combined with physical abuse, becomes a living nightmare for so many women in America.”The Allstate Foundation also released the results of a survey, Silent Weapon: Domestic Violence and Financial Abuse, to understand the attitudes Americans have about violence in relationships and the financial control that usually accompanies physical abuse.Findings from the survey include:• Nearly eight in 10 Americans (78 percent) say they have not heard much about financial abuse as it relates to domestic violence. Additionally, Americans think that financial abuse is the least likely (3 percent) form of abuse to be recognized by an outsider. • Sixty-five percent don’t believe that their family or friends would know if they were in a financially abusive relationship and 70 percent can’t say they would know how to help them. • Only 39 percent of women have taken steps in their own relationship to protect themselves from financial abuse. • Hispanics (51 percent) and African Americans (49 percent) are twice as likely to see domestic violence as a serious problem among people they know than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts (25 percent). • Hispanic parents (58 percent) and African American parents (52 percent) have discussed domestic violence more frequently than white non-Hispanic parents (43 percent).For additional information on the survey visit www.purplepurse.com.To raise more awareness, The Allstate Foundation is encouraging the public to participate in a Purple Purse Challenge by donating to local nonprofit organizations that support financial empowerment services for domestic violence survivors. The Challenge is already underway at PurplePurse.com and has raised nearly $500,000. The Allstate Foundation will contribute nearly $650,000 in incentive funding and direct grants to participating organizations in the Challenge. The more donations each nonprofit collects, the more incentive funding the organization can compete to win from The Allstate Foundation. The Challenge continues through Oct. 3, 2014.Visit PurplePurse.com to learn more about domestic violence and financial abuse as well as how to start conversations about this important topic. For immediate assistance with a dangerous situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799 SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program has empowered domestic violence survivors with resources, knowledge and skills they need to achieve financial empowerment and a life free from abuse. Since its inception, the program has helped nearly 400,000 domestic violence survivors leave abusive relationships through financial education, job training and readiness and microenterprise programs.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

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BonnieJill Laflin Bares All In New Vegan Ad For PETA

first_imgWith only a basketball and her long locks covering her modesty, Basketball Wives LA star Bonnie-Jill Laflin strips down for PETA in two new ads that proclaim, “Proud to Have Been NBA’s First Female Scout — Even Prouder to Be a Vegan” and “Strong. Vegan. Woman.”You can see the ads here.In an exclusive interview, the former and first female NBA scout for the Los Angeles Lakers reveals how her groundbreaking career prepared her to push for animal rights — even if it means stripping down for the cause. “[B]eing a female in a man’s world, I’ve got thick skin,” she says. “[I]t really helps me stand up for what I believe in. Even if you’re standing alone, you always stand up. And I like to stand up for animals.”That’s why she went vegan: “If you go into the factory farms and you see what these animals endure and the torture — it’s not right,” she says. “And the only way to not participate in that is to go vegan.”Each person who goes vegan saves approximately 100 animals every year from daily abuse and a terrifying death in today’s industrialized meat, egg, and dairy industries. Going vegan can give your health a boost, too: Vegans are less prone to suffering from heart disease, obesity, cancer, and strokes than meat-eaters are. And as Laflin says, “I have more energy now as a vegan than I did before.”She’s part of a growing list of celebrities — including her Basketball Wives costar Evelyn Lozada, former Los Angeles Lakers player John Salley, Joanna Krupa, Nicole Williams, and many others — who have teamed up with PETA (whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”) to promote healthy and humane meat-free meals.last_img read more

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