New Zealand's conservation services spend millions of dollars annually to protecting native flora and fauna. Current methods to monitor and eradicate pests, such as stoats and weasels, are costly in time and resources.
Many of New Zealand's conservation areas are in remote locations such as islands, and monitoring animals is labour intensive. Current methods for monitoring pests involve employing park rangers to manually check individual animal tracking tunnels.
With the challenges conventional methods are facing, both here and overseas, the team comprising of Boffa Miskell, Lincoln University, Lincoln Agritech and AUT decided to create their own monitoring system, “Print Acquisition for Wildlife Surveillance”, aptly named PAWS. Staff members at Lincoln Agritech designed the PAWS electronic detector system and software; including a highly sensitive sensor pad with the ability to record data from animal interactions and automatically identify the type of animal. With long life batteries, PAWS can be left in remote locations with little human intervention. Park rangers do not need to constantly check the stations. The project was subsequently funded by grants from KiwiNet and the Department of Conservation.
The PAWS system has been successfully trialled on the Port Hills, Christchurch and in remote forested regions of West Coast of NZ. Trials are now being undertaken internationally. In controlled simulated island reinvasion trials, PAWS was capable of detecting pests with 95% accuracy for stoats, ferrets, possums, cats, rats and mice.
PAWS has received wide interest from international pest detection and conservation companies. It is hoped the technology will be commercially available in the next 18 months.
Dr Helen Blackie, Boffa Miskell Associate Principal and Project Manager for PAWS, alongside Dr Kenji Irie, Technology Lead and Manager, Lincoln Agritech’s Electronic Sensors Group were interviewed on the project by BBC World Service Radio and RadioNZ.
BBC World Service Radio Interview
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