To combat poaching, IIT-Madras, Harvard University researchers develop Machine-Learning algorithm

ANIUpdated: Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 08:07 PM IST
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IIT Madras |

New Delhi : Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, in collaboration with Harvard University have developed a novel Machine-Learning algorithm named 'CombSGPO' (Combined Security Game Policy Optimization) to help save the wildlife from poaching.

IIT Madras, in a statement, said that the researchers have found that combined and coordinated use of the Forest Rangers and drones were a good way to protect wildlife from poaching. "As the resources (Rangers and drones) are limited, the researchers developed this algorithm which provides a good strategy to protect wildlife with the resources available. This new algorithm provides highly efficient strategies that are more scalable than the earlier ones created for the same purpose," the institute said.

The algorithm, as per IIT-M, works by handling resource allocation and strategizing patrolling after the extent of resources available had been identified. For this task, the algorithm utilizes data on the animal population in the conserved area and assumes that poachers are aware of the patrolling being done at various sites.

Prof Balaraman Ravindran, Mindtree Faculty Fellow and Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras, and the Head of Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI), IIT Madras, collaborated with Professor Milind Tambe's Research Group - Teamcore - at Harvard University, US, to carry out this study.

Highlighting the need for such Research, Ravindran said that the work was motivated by the need to perform strategic resource allocation and patrolling in green security domains to prevent illegal activities such as wildlife poaching, illegal logging and illegal fishing.

"The resources we consider are human patrollers (forest rangers) and surveillance drones, which have object detectors mounted on them for animals and poachers and can perform strategic signalling and communicate with each other as well as the human patrollers," he added.

This developed algorithm utilizes a Game Theory-based model created by the researchers.

As per the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the wildlife trade poses the second-biggest direct threat to the survival of species after habitat destruction.

While several organizations and regulatory authorities are trying to curb the incidences of poaching, the poachers seem to have always remained one step ahead of the patrollers. This collaborative research work by two esteemed universities will help in keeping poaching incidents in check.

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