How do we stop illegal poaching of animals? It seems like a tall task, especially when there’s a lot of money involved. Asking poachers to stop would obviously be ideal, but not exactly possible, nor would it be financially feasible or realistic to have wildlife rangers cover the entire area and patrol all day.

This is where technology comes in, where thanks to the efforts of researchers, they have developed an AI system called PAWS (Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security) that helps wildlife rangers not only track where poachers have been, but can also predict where they might go to next, which means that they can direct their resources to those areas ahead of time.

The system uses data pulled from the SMART platform that was originally developed by the World Wildlife Foundation. This platform helps to suggest the most efficient routes based on the theory of security games. So far, the system has proved itself to be pretty accurate with its predictions.

In a trial conducted in 2014, the rangers found that areas that the AI predicted as having a higher risk of poachers resulted in more snares being found, versus areas that the PAWS AI deemed as lower risk. The use of PAWS isn’t the only instance of technology used to fight poaching. We have seen over the years how rangers have started to get more hi-tech in their efforts to combat poaching.

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