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UK Hedgehog population to be tracked by AI

The study will be led by the National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme

In a report by The Guardian, it is known that “Artificial Intelligence will be used for the first time to track hedgehog populations as part of a pioneering project aimed at understanding how many of them are left in the UK and why they have suffered a decline.”

You can read the full story here

How was AI used?

The images captured by the cameras will be filtered with the use of AI, which can differentiate between wildlife and humans. After this, the images will be sent to human “spotters”, who will pick out the animals and send them to analysts.

Dr Henrietta Pringle, the NHMP Coordinator at PTES, said: “For the first time in the history of hedgehog conservation we’re using AI to open up new opportunities, which is extremely exciting. Previous studies have estimated hedgehog populations, but there has never been a rigorous nationwide survey of them – until now.

“We know hedgehogs are struggling – especially in the countryside – but before we can put practical conservation measures in place we need to understand where they are and why they’re declining.

The National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme (NHMP) hopes to use the data collected to “produce estimates of hedgehog populations in different habitats across the country, show how these are changing year on year, and – in time – give a national estimate of the UK’s hedgehog population.”, according to The Guardian

The project is in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University, ZSL’s London HogWatch, Durham University and MammalWeb, and largely funded by Natural England.

Fay Vass, the Chief Executive of the BHPS, said: “Everyone loves hedgehogs, but we recognise that not everyone is in a position to help them in the wild. Becoming a ‘spotter’ for the National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme is a fantastic way for everyone to get involved. Now, those with mobility issues, who don’t have a garden or perhaps are away studying at university or college, can help from the comfort of home.

“Helping hedgehogs has never been easier or more accessible, so we really hope people from all walks of life take part.”

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