The recent proliferation of ownership of smartphones and other devices that can take high-quality photos is a boon for conservation. GiraffeSpotter aims to exponentially enhance giraffe conservation through mobilizing citizen scientists to help document giraffes in the wild. THe platform uses computer vision to create a unique identifier for each individual giraffe, based on their unique pattern of spots and markings.

Anybody who has taken a photo of a giraffe in the wild and snapped shots of the elephant’s torso and neck can contribute to GiraffeSpotter’s visual database, which was launched in 2014. As long as you have pictures of those three angles, and information on where the photo was taken, your sighting is useful. 

GiraffeSpotter is an offshoot of the U.S. based Wild Me Foundation, and uses Wildbook, a widely-used machine learning conservation software. GiraffeSpotter uses citizen science photos to build a database of individual giraffes in Kenya, Niger, Chad, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania, and the database is used by researchers to track abundance, migration, and assess the overall status of wild giraffes. Additionally, information gleaned from photos can also help researchers plan mark-recapture studies, where giraffes are tagged and then released into the wild.


Biodiversity, Citizen Science, Data, Visual Technologies