LeopardEye is an initiative of WildTiger.
Conservation Technology as a vital tool in human and big cat coexistence strategies…
LeopardEye is the technical application for our monitoring systems. Using remote camera technology which operates in real time data transmission (dynamic) as well as traditional camera trap systems (passive), wildlife and human activity data can be gathered and analyzed according to the requirements of each case. LeopardEye is also a fusion of tech and people in that human to human communication strategies are a vital component within a concept we use as our main solution basis to reduce human – wildlife conflict and wildlife crime.
WildTiger uses different camera systems according to each situation. Cellular and wireless systems are sometimes combined with passive systems. Other communication including satellite and LoRa are being tested in real time situations in the field. We have been developing hardware best suited to the rugged conditions of Western Nepal and in collaboration with partners this is an evolving aspect of LeopardEye. Early Warning Systems (EWS) can be applied according to circumstance.
Regarding the image above, two weeks earlier a woman had been killed by a big cat in that exact spot. The area is remote hill country and telecommunications are variable. By receiving the image in real time we were able to alert locals of the threat by having a designated person make sure people stayed away from the location. This event shaped the dynamics of LeopardEye, read below more about the three elements which factor in our evolving strategy to foster coexistence between people and big cats.
- The understanding of big cat behaviour both in general terms and regarding individual leopards and tigers which are involved in or potentially involved in conflict situations is critical to mitigation.
- Strong human to human communication networks within communities and extending to other stakeholders including those involved in wildlife conservation.
- State of the art technology enabling early warning systems (EWS) and critical data.
Within this framework WildTiger advocates a citizen science approach with high community engagement with the aim of improving coexistence with tigers and leopards particularly in areas which historically are highly affected by conflict. A philosophy of prevention as against reaction is key to increasing tolerance as each serious incident dents confidence in coexistence. Indicators of potential serious conflict are therefore high priority in assessment.
Our emphasis on obtaining real time data means we have moved beyond conventional camera trap technology (we still use these systems for initial scouting and fact finding) to deploying units which can bring live streaming and instant video according to motion detection.
With regard to the camera technology aspect of LeopardEye, WildTiger expresses a huge thanks to the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund (KACF) for their support during development and implementation. KACF as a conservation body parallels our philosophy that working alongside communities which are facing coexistence challenges is to key to protecting lives of both people and wildlife.
Another evolving aspect is forensic analysis using genetics. WildTiger works closely with Prajwol Manandhar (image below) of the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN) as he further develops DNA sequencing of the Indian leopard, panthera pardus fusca. Prajwol heads the Kathmandu Leopard Project which is the first genetic based survey of leopards in the region. In a joint initiative, WildTiger collaborated with Prajwol and the Divisional Forest Office in Arghakhanchi District (Nepal) in achieving the first individual identification of a serious conflict leopard with a DNA match obtained from the big cat and a human victim. WildTiger strongly advocates the use of genetic analysis as a tool in human-wildlife conflict mitigation and combating wildlife crime. We’ll bring further updates (February 2023) as Prajwol and Jack Kinross collaborate in development and implementation of LeopardEye in appropriate applications.
Prajwol Manandhar of CMDN in the field. His work developing leopard DNA sequencing is vital for the future of the Indian Leopard, the main sub-species of South Asia.
The key elements need full integration to be effective with LeopardEye enhancing local involvement in the communication of urgent information in highly affected conflict areas. EWS in the form of mass SMS transmissions has been used to help avoid conflict situations involving villagers and big cats as well as elephants. In economically challenged areas phones have been provided to ensure strong communications. Training as to what is relevant information is provided as part of coexistence Strategies and guidelines. Further applying LeopardEye as part of community based monitoring in liaison with local and national authorities as well as partners is a major goal within our coexistence strategies. A component of that is the further development of CMS (Constant Monitoring Systems). CMS is seen as an important application incorporating LeopardEye in combating poaching and wildlife trafficking. This element of LeopardEye is integrated in our work within the platform #AntiSnare. Ongoing technology testing and improvements are underway as LeopardEye is implemented at key sites to mitigate human – leopard conflict and wildlife crime. We’ll continue developments and implementation which will be explained further in an interim report in September 2022 leading up to further phases at the end of the Year of the Tiger in February 2023 as part of the Mission Leopard mandate.