Technology that is helping farmers rid their land of feral animals now has the potential to help seek out animals after fires.
The automated animal species detection and habitat detection project started as a collaboration between Dr Anwarr Ulhaq from Charles Sturt University and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to help identify feral animals who were causing damage on rural farms.
Using drone footage filmed by DPI Dr Ulhag's technology could scan the video and using thermal imaging identify animals in the dark.
"Initially the project was about using our technology to help on rural properties where feral pests like pigs, dogs, kangaroos and rabbits are causing damage for farmers," Dr Ulhag said.
"It can be very hard to detect animals in the dark particularly if they dig burrows under the ground but the thermal imaging is quite successful in pinpointing their location and moves.
"The project was about helping native animals and farmers but we are now seeing the some additional benefits of the project which can be applied to other situations like bushfires."
On December 1 the Rural Fire Service said that NSW has already had its most challenging bushfire season ever with more than 2,000,000 hectares of land burnt this season so far.
Also current estimates are that more than 350 koalas have perished in the recent fires on the Mid North Coast alone.
Dr Ulhag is the chief investigator for the project along with colleagues, Dr tarnya Cox in Orange and Peter Adams in Western Australia, and he said the technology has already been successfully used across the country.
"The technology to spot feral animals such as feral pigs or rabbits is being used in Orange and also in Western Australia and is making a real difference to farmers," he said.
"However given the recent bushfires we are now looking at using the same program to help find animals during bushfires.
"Obviously it is timely given the recent bushfires across the Mid North Coast but the technology can be very valuable in a range of different environments.
"In the bushfire scenario a drone can fly over the top of an area which in not able to be accessed by people or transport.
"Being able to scan across a fireground can be a huge help when it comes to the recovery efforts and knowing where animals in need are."
Dr Ulhag said if the technology can make a difference they that is something he is proud of.
"The truth behind technology like this is that it can make a difference in the world.
"We are seeing technology making access to healthcare easier and breaking down barriers in a range of areas and if it can be used to help animals as well that is great."
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