Video technology company Hikvision has recently started working partners to protect the pangolin population at the Wuquinzhang Reserve in Guangdong China.
The company, primarily known for its security products and applications, deployed an intelligent video system to monitor the animals’ activities and their interaction with humans. The system integrates professional video software with dedicated functions including AI-equipped cameras that can identify this unique animal automatically.
"The protection of pangolins is of great value in protecting the biodiversity in our forests," said Li Chen, director of Xizijiang Ecological Conservation Center, a non-profit organisation for monitoring, studying, and protecting wildlife.
Focus has been placed on surveying and monitoring wild pangolin populations and their habitats. Patrolling forests and mountains has radically diminished poaching efforts while also strengthening on-going research on the artificial breeding measures currently underway.
“The intelligent video system allows for smart, information-based and real-time monitoring of pangolins. It relieves researchers from patrolling pressures and provides precious data for the scientific research of pangolins. We are expecting more technologies to be used in the future of the Wuquinzhang Reserve to protect pangolins, so that more of them can thrive here,” he added.
Before the system was installed, research in the reserve was impeded by the lack of data and video footage on the local ecosystem in general and pangolin activity in particular.
Researchers were forced to travel dozens of kilometres on foot deep into mountainous areas and dense, unfriendly forests only to collect very limited data. After the Hikvision system was put into place, however, workers have been able to access large amounts of video footage, studying and documenting pangolin living habits. These valuable materials currently help reveal and restore populations as they facilitate the work of researchers.
Known as “guardians of the forest”, pangolins are ancient creatures that appeared in fossil records possibly going as far back as 35-55 million years. Even with the strong shield pangolins wear, their population has declined at an alarming rate – the result of poaching and illegal trade.
What’s more, deforestation and intrusive human activities have disrupted their forest ecosystems extensively, leaving pangolins vulnerable. The destruction of their habitats further exacerbates their plight. Pangolins feed almost exclusively on ants and termites. Such a simple diet makes them particularly poor at adapting to changes in their environment.
In China alone, its population is estimated to have decreased by an exorbitant 90% since the 1960s, prompting the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to put the Chinese pangolin on its red list as a critically endangered animal.
Governments and international organisations have intensified their efforts to crack down on poaching and illegal trading of pangolins over the years. Significant resources have been dedicated to the animals' protection and breeding in the field. The United Nations has declared the third Saturday of February as "World Pangolin Day" in order to raise awareness about protecting these creatures across the globe.