Lonely Planet Writer

A facial recognition tool could help the endangered Lemur population of Madagascar

Researchers have successfully trialled a computer facial recognition tool that recognises individual lemurs in the wild.

A ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar.
A ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar. Image by Mathias Appel

Lemur experts teamed up with a group of computer scientists to create LemurFaceID, a system that can recognise individual lemur faces to 97% accuracy. Over 100 trial sessions, the team trained and tested their system using photos of wild red-bellied lemurs from the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar.

(Niall Carson/PA)
The system could replace more traditional methods of tracking endangered species. Image by: Niall Carson/PA

The smart system is able to recognise faces in different types of light and through facial hair – which is very important when it comes to a lemur. The development will help to accurately track the endangered species over longer periods of time in order to study evolutionary processes. Currently researchers use markers such as scars or fur markings to identify their subjects of study or capture them and tag them. This can result in gaps in data and tagging animals can prove stressful and disturb group dynamics, according to the research published in the BMC Zoology journal.

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