Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Scientists Use Remote Satellite Imaging to Monitor Endangered Species
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Sputnik News) Dec 01, 2014

illustration only

Researchers from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution and the ScanEx Research and Development Center have been using satellite imagery to study the population and movement patterns of the critically endangered saiga antelope. A researcher from the Severtsov Institute gave Sputnik the details.

Using the satellite imagery, taken between 2009 and 2014 by a variety of commercial observation satellites, scientists have been able to determine the population, distribution and movement patterns of the saiga in the northwest Caspian Lowlands in the Republic of Kalmykia and the Astrakhan region, where their numbers are about 5,000.

The use of satellite imagery, so far on a trial basis, has helped to count and track the animals in a highly accurate and non-invasive way, compared with more traditional methods such as using helicopters or ground vehicles for counting by hand. It has also helped scientists to understand the factors affecting the saiga, including the distribution of local livestock, as well as plant cover conditions.

Conducting their studies in the period between late November and early March of each year, scientists first task was to learn to distinguish the saiga from other local animals, including sheep, horses, cows, and camels. They did so in part via the use of color, with the saiga donning a white coat in the wintertime. Scientists also had to calculating the average length, width, length-to-width ratio, and height (based on shadow), converting these figures to pixels in the satellite imagery.

The data proved useful in determining not just the number of animals, but also their distribution across large areas, up to an area of 20x40 sq. km at once, as well as distance from other herds and animals. It also helped to determine the average number of animals in each herd, their average distance from one another within a heard, and their general geographic behavior. Distribution patterns helped to indicate whether the animals were grazing or moving.

The results, published in the study "On the Possibility to Identify the Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica) on Very-High Resolution Satellite Images," can be found in the journal Doklady Biological Sciences. The study was conducted with assistance from the Saiga Conservation Alliance, a partner of the Wildlife Conservation Network, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The saiga, which stand 0.6-0.8 meters tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 36-63 kilograms, are a grazing herbivore distinguishable by their unusual nose structure. Once stretching from the British Isles through to the western coast of North America, the areas which these animals inhabit has gradually declined over the course of many centuries.

In the 20th century, after facing near-extinction in the 1920s in Soviet Russia, conservation efforts were started by the government, helping to stabilize the population at nearly 2 million by the 1950s. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of uncontrolled hunting, poaching and smuggling, the species has faced one of the fastest population collapses ever observed in modern times.

The drop is said to have been driven largely by Chinese demand for the male saiga's horn, which is said to be used for medicinal purposes. It is estimated that only about 50,000 saiga remain in the world, largely in an area around the Russian Caspian and in Kazakhstan.

Anna Yachmennikova of the Severtsov Institute told Sputnik that the saiga face an "ecological crisis" in Russia, and that the government has introduced fines of up to 2 million rubles (about $41,625 US) or 7 years in prison for illegal hunting of the antelope. Strict conservation efforts have been introduced in Kazakhstan, which has banned hunting the saiga until at least 2021, and its Russian populations currently inhabit nature preserves.

Source: Sputnik News


Related Links
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

"Ferrari of space' yields best map of ocean currents
Paris (AFP) Nov 25, 2014
A satellite dubbed the "Ferrari of space" has yielded the most accurate model of ocean circulation yet, boosting understanding of the seas and a key impact of global warming, scientists said Tuesday. Data sent home by the Gravity field and Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) "mapped variations in Earth's gravity with unrivalled precision," the European Space Agency said. It has opened the ... read more

Carnegie Mellon Unveils Lunar Rover "Andy"

Why we should mine the moon

Young Volcanoes on the Moon

Russia Preparing Joint Moon Exploration Agreement With EU

NASA's Orion Flight Test and the Journey to Mars

Red Planet's Mystery

Orion Test Flight a Critical Step on NASA's Journey to Mars

Traces of possible Martian biological activity inside a meteorite

ISS astronauts will have to wait until April for espresso

NASA video shows off Orion cockpit

New Display Counts Down for New Generation

NASA's Orion capsule poised for first test launch

Service module of China's returned lunar orbiter reaches L2 point

China Launches Second Disaster Relief Satellite

China expects to introduce space law around 2020

China launches new remote sensing satellite

NASA's CATS Eyes Clouds, Smoke and Dust from the Space Station

ISS Enables Interplanetary Space Exploration

3-D Printer Creates First Object in Space on ISS

Soyuz docks at Space Station; Expedition 42 joins crew

Japan launches rocket carrying asteroid probe

Go-ahead given for Ariane 5 dual-payload mission

Launch of European Ariane-5 Space Rocket From Kourou Postponed

After wrangle, Europe set to approve Ariane 6 launcher

'Mirage Earth' exoplanets may have burned away chances for life

Stardust Not Likely to Block Planet Portraits

Ground-based detection of exoplanets

Finding infant earths and potential life just got easier

Space travel is a bit safer than expected

Street cleaners in New York have help from insect garbage-munchers

Laser link offers high-speed delivery

Researchers develop building material that cools by reflecting heat into space

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.