The Danish AI-drone software company, Robotto, and the WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) have established a partnership where they will implement new drone technology making it cheaper and easier to count the world's wild animals. The partnership will begin by counting Greenland's musk oxen, whose habitats have drastically been affected by climate change.
The struggle to preserve and protect nature and the planet’s species requires both regular surveying and monitoring of large geographical areas, which can present major logistical and economical challenges. This means some species and areas are very rarely investigated.
Therefore, the WWF Worldwide Fund for Nature and Robotto have joined together to investigate applying new drone technology to better the monitoring of the animal population. Making it easier, cheaper, and better for the environment by replacing the very resource-intensive aircraft and helicopter counts with drones and artificial intelligence.
"It is crucial that we know the number of wild animals in order to be able to protect them in the best possible way. We are therefore excited about the collaboration with Robotto, where combining their knowledge of drones and artificial intelligence with our long experience of protecting the world's nature and animals can help to draw the contours of future nature conservation efforts. In the long run, this can make it more efficient, cheaper, and far more sustainable to count the world's many species.” Bo Øksnebjerg, Secretary-General of the WWF World Wide Fund for Nature.
"We know that our AI technology can improve the world we live in. It’s why we’re pleased that with WWF as partners we can develop drone software with artificial intelligence to secure the future of animals and aid the Greenlandic population going forward." Kenneth Geipel, Co-Founder and CEO of Robotto.
At the same time, climate change is changing the living conditions of the world's animals faster than ever before, and it is, therefore, necessary to survey more areas and count species more frequently. When you know the extent and development of an animal population, you can continuously regulate the population, and thus ultimately ensure the survival of the species.
It will be four times warmer in Greenland than in Denmark: That is why we must take action now. To begin, the two partners have the ambition to use the new technology in Greenland, which with an area of 2.2 million square kilometers makes it challenging to monitor Arctic species. This is why, scientifically recommended monitoring intervals have proven impossible, until now.
Greenland is home to approx. 25% of the world's musk oxen, where live in isolation with very severe weather conditions. The project will commence on Jameson Land in Northeast Greenland, north of the small isolated town of Ittoqqortoormiit for the first census of land mammals in Greenland using drones and advanced imaging.
“Climate change is to blame for approx. four times as high temperature rises in the Arctic compared to the rest of the world. It affects the Arctic's unique nature and animal populations to an extreme degree. Therefore, more - and not less - monitoring is needed in the Arctic so that we can ensure that animal populations are not threatened or exterminated. In Canada, climate change has resulted in some reindeer populations exceeding 90%. Back-” Bo Øksnebjerg.
The musk ox population hasn’t been surveyed since 2000 when it was estimated that the population was 1,761 musk oxen. The musk oxen are an important resource for the city of Ittoqqortoormiit, both as earnings for hunters and meat supply to the citizens. With no immediate surveying planned, finding alternative, technological methods are vital to ensure the future of both the animals and the community.
“A close collaboration with the residents of Ittoqqortoormiit is extremely important to us, as they know the area, the musk oxen, and the effects of climate change best. We look forward to working with WWF and the locals to use our technology to help register and count musk oxen, thus helping to ensure the best future and living conditions for the animals, the local community, and the ecosystem.” Kenneth Geipel.
Robotto has begun seeking sponsorships for the project, which will commence at the start of 2023. Sponsors will make it possible to secure both the planet's and the animals' future because it is crucial that we understand the effects of climate change in the Arctic to be able to react and put it where it matters most.
About the WWF World Wide Fund for Nature
The WWF Worldwide Fund for Nature is the Danish part of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which is one of the world's largest and most influential environmental and nature protection organizations with offices in more than 100 countries. Globally, WWF has more than five million supporters, and we are working on approximately 1,200 projects. Our mission is to build a future where people live in h harmony with nature.
The WWF office in Greenland is part of WWF Denmark and has been represented by a local office in Nuuk for the past 6 years. WWF in Greenland has a special focus on preserving Greenlandic nature and working closely with locals and decision-makers on a sustainable agenda.
Robotto is an award-winning Danish drone software company founded in 2019 that develops drone technology using artificial intelligence and computer vision. The technology supports organizations for e.g., identification and analysis of forest fires, identification of missing individuals faster, as well as improvement of resource management across industries - and now biodiversity counting.