STATES CHRONICLE – Scientists advanced a new method which could potentially help them track down endangered lemurs. Their proposal? Using a facial recognition system.
Facial recognition relies on a biometric system. This either checks or identifies a person based on a digital image. Most commonly, the system is utilized in catching shoplifters. Or detecting driver license frauds or to identify passports. It can also be used for finding criminals.
Now, a new utilization could be added to the list above. Its target? Finding and identifying endangered lemurs. Its area of use? The jungles of Madagascar.
The idea, a system which could develop it, and a research paper were released earlier this week. They are the work of a team of Michigan State University researchers. They were led by Anil Jamil, part of the university and a biometrics expert.
The research paper was published in the BMC Zoology journal. Available online since February 17th, it was titled as follows. “LemurFaceID: a face recognition system to facilitate individual identification of lemurs”.
As presented in the paper title, the study introduces the LemurFaceID. This is a new face recognition system, specifically developed by the team.
At its base, the system makes use of the human facial recognition technology. Which was then combined with a rather special image database. This latter is mostly based on images taken by the study co-authors.
Rachel Jacobs and Stacey Tecot snapped the images in Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park. Over 600 images were used in developing LemurFaceID. 462 images revealed 80 species of red-bellied lemurs. And another 190 presented other lemurs species.
The aforementioned lead went to offer some details. According to Jain, each lemur has its own set of unique facial characteristics. And now, just as in humans, these can be used to detect them. The endangered lemurs will be more easily identifiable thanks to the system.
Reportedly, LemurFaceID still is in need of some optimization. Nonetheless, it will be able to assist in the long-term research of endangered lemur species. It will do so by offering a new identification method. One that will be both accurate, rapid, and cost-effective.
LemurFaceID has already been tested. And it revealed a 98.7 percent accuracy in identifying over 100 individual lemurs.
Such an identification system is reportedly quite necessary. Presently, there are few long-term studies of the lemur populations. The lack of such studies is more important than it might be believed.
Various researchers carried out short-term studies of the lemur population. Most commonly, these rely on “soft” identifiers. These help them recognize individual lemurs. “Soft” identifiers are size and shape body differences. Or perhaps the presence of scars and injuries.
Still, these appearance elements can change. Which could lead to unknowingly identifying the same lemur more than once. Especially as there are no long-term studies.
These long-term studies could reveal important data on the endangered lemurs. For example, their average life span in the wild. Or their reproduction and infant mortality rates. And even the population decline and growth trends.
And using LemurFaceID in conjunction with this data could help develop a conservation strategy. Lemurs are a highly endangered mammals group.
The new system could also be a more non-invasive method. It would reduce the need for the “Capture and collar” one. This latter is commonly used nowadays. But it is both a costly and a potentially harming one.
According to Jain, LemurFaceID could also have a larger area of use. It can be adapted for other primate species. And also non-primate ones. He also states that facial recognition systems could help act as safeguards for our society.
Image Source: Wikimedia