From 3-D printed eggs to drones: How technology is shaping the future of wildlife conservation

Wildlife conservationists rely heavily on data in their efforts to protect animals, but gathering that data without disturbing the wildlife it’s intended to protect can prove to be a difficult task. In an effort to revitalize the endangered vulture population through captivated breeding, scientists had trouble keeping sensors in the giant bird’s nest to better understand how vultures incubate. So they created a 3-D printed egg filled with sensors that felt and weighed exactly the same as vulture eggs. The vultures tended to the eggs as if it were their own, and conservationists get the precious data they needed from underneath the parent. Similarly, scientists are using drones and improving the technology to track the migration patterns of cranes without disturbing the birds. Researchers are even using autonomous robots that roam the Pacific Ocean to collect data like temperature and salinity, all part of a technological shift that’s improving the relationship between conservationists and animals.

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