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Google AI tool helps conservationists (and the public) track wildlife

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Anna_Om via Getty Images

Google is quickly putting its wildlife-spotting AI to good use. The internet giant has launched a Wildlife Insights tool that helps conservationists track wildlife by not only parsing their photos, but sharing them in a searchable public website. The AI automatically tosses out photos that are highly unlikely to include animals and tries to label the animals it does spot, dramatically speeding up a laborious task. That, in turn, helps researchers track animal populations as they're affected by climate change and direct human intrusion.

The website, meanwhile, is powerful whether or not you're a researcher. You can explore about 4.5 million images (as of this writing) using a map with helpful filters for species, countries, dates and specific projects. If you want to find pictures of giraffes in Kenya, you can go directly to the camera traps that spotted them.

Google's database will only be as useful as the number of uploads, and there's no guarantee this will lead to meaningful conservation efforts. However, this does give policy makers a better chance of making more informed decisions that could curb animal population losses and, hopefully, spare some species from the threat of extinction.