A system combining modern technology with indigenous peoples’ know-how is saving turtles from extinction, monitoring Australia’s beaches from the air to better identify where interventions are needed.
“It’s about saving the most baby turtles with limited resources instead of shooting as many pigs as possible,” says Justin Perry who contributed to the development of the project. Indigenous knowledge is taken into account in developing tech projects since their surroundings are an integral part of their communities. “They listen to nature,” says designer Julia Watson whose career focuses on indigenous techniques around the world.
The system was developed by a coalition of local guides, Australia’s national science authority CSIRO, environmental protection organization Aak Puul Ngantam and Microsoft. Cameras with integrated GPS are mounted on helicopters that already fly over remote areas, and conservationists use an app that provides the data along with a digital map. Since the project took off two years ago, the destruction rate of nests by wild boars and alligators has decreased from near 100% to around 4%, which means that 20,000 baby turtles make their way to the ocean every year.