SoReMo will host its final forum of the spring 2021 semester at 12:30 p.m. May 24. The forum will feature Olga Isupova, Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence at the Department of Computer Science at University of Bath. She will deliver her presentation, “Using satellite imagery and deep learning to detect and count African elephants.”
Satellites allow large‐scale surveys to be conducted in short time periods with repeat surveys possible at intervals of less than 24 hours. Very‐high‐resolution satellite imagery has been successfully used to detect and count a number of wildlife species in open, homogeneous landscapes and seascapes where target animals have a strong contrast with their environment. However, no research to date has detected animals in complex heterogeneous environments or detected elephants from space using very‐high‐resolution satellite imagery and deep learning.
In this talk, we will discuss how we applied a deep learning model to automatically detect and count African elephants in a woodland savanna ecosystem in South Africa. We have shown that with the current state-of-the-art machine learning object detection models we can achieve the same level of accuracy as human observers of satellite imagery despite the fact that adult elephant can occupy only 35 pixels in the image. The deep learning model can generalize to detect elephants in a different geographical location and from a lower resolution satellite. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of applying state‐of‐the‐art satellite remote sensing and deep learning technologies for detecting and counting African elephants in heterogeneous landscapes. The study showcases the feasibility of using high resolution satellite imagery as a promising new wildlife surveying technique.