Stripespotter: A New Tool for Wild Animal Tracking

Tracking wild animals can be a difficult task be it tagging or just eyeballing the count. Researchers have adapted barcode reading to non-other than zebras. Now they can easily track zebras based on their individual stripe pattern. Neat!

A team of computer scientists and biologists have developed a barcode-like scanning system called Stripespotter that automatically identifies individual zebras from a single photograph. The system is more accurate than other image-recognition programs and could be used on additional animals with stripes, such as tigers and giraffes.

On top of that, it’s simple to use. Ecologists in the field take pictures of the animals using an everyday digital camera. That image is uploaded to a Stripespotter database. The scientist highlights a portion of the photographed animal, such as its hindquarters, and the program analyzes the pixels in that portion and then assigns a “stripecode” to the animal. When additional images of zebras are uploaded to the database and the hindquarters highlighted, the Stripespotter program compares the stripecode with others in the system. If it finds a match, it provides feedback about why two images of an animal are similar.

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Here’s the project’s page: Stripespotter