How Huawei tech aims to help endangered red squirrels in the UK




Red squirrels feature high on the UK’s endangered animal list, with their numbers reduced by disease and competition with the stronger and larger gray squirrel. Britain’s conservation charity the Mammal Society estimates there may now be less than 30,000 red squirrels in the country.

Most are found in northern England and Scotland.

This fall, the Mammal Society partnered with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, Rainforest Connection and researchers at the University of Bristol to launch a collaborative project to monitor red and gray squirrel populations in the UK. United.

A high-tech acoustic monitoring system known as the “Guardian” is installed in areas where squirrels are commonly found.

He can then listen to the sounds of nature and pick up the sounds of red and gray squirrels.

“[It’s a] sort of cell phone, in a waterproof box, with a large antenna, ”said Stephanie Wray, chair of the board of directors of the Mammal Society.

“It records the entire soundscape and uploads real-time information to the cloud. We can use the amount of natural noise as a measure of biodiversity or ecosystem health.

“So we can see if there are any predictors of squirrel quality based on the overall quality of biodiversity.”

An infographic on how technology works.

An infographic on how technology works.

As part of a series of its global conservation initiatives, Huawei developed artificial intelligence technology for the project, working with animal experts to identify the call of the red squirrel.

“This information is used to train the software,” said Henk Koopmans, CEO of Huawei Research and Development in the UK.

“Once the software has that starting point, then it can self-learn and get smarter and smarter. We all hope it gives us more information, not just about red and gray squirrels, but on the ecosystem. “

The data will be analyzed by researchers at the University of Bristol in hopes of determining why the red squirrel is struggling to survive.

The number of red squirrels is expected to be closer to two to three million in the UK, but is declining rapidly, despite dedicated breeding programs. Environmentalists hope the project will give them additional information on how best to protect this iconic creature.

The new technology developed by Huawei also has the potential for wider use in other future conservation projects. “Although this initial project focuses on red squirrels, the ability will be there to recognize the calls of many other different species, not just mammals, and to get a much richer picture of the evolution of biodiversity,” Wray said.

“What is needed to protect British mammals, including the red squirrel, is a real return to caring for nature and leaving space for nature next to what people want to do of the earth.”



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