Using artificial intelligence to assist with anti-poaching operations is not a brand new concept, but anything that can help to make a difference to the total destruction of fauna is a welcome initiative. The newest technology that has been unveiled for wildlife protection involves Game Theory.

Plotting optimal patrolling areas

The Christian Science Monitor, reports that a spokesman at the University of Southern Carolina has described the new technology as a “green security game”.


The project uses mathematics to establish optimal game ranger patrolling areas and should help to predict potential poaching hotspots. It is often possible to predict animal movement as they live within set territories, engage in routine behavior and often follow the same tracks to water and grazing areas every day. Poachers rely on these behavioral patterns to plot their next kill.

Positive rather than reactive policing

Information leading to the arrest of poachers is often received only during follow-up investigations.


Foot patrols and helicopter grid-search flights often find that the poachers are long gone before the carcasses are discovered. Despite many heroic efforts to stay on top of the game, ranger anti-poaching efforts tend to be a “reactive” response to the killing of animals, rather than a preventative strategy. The prediction of poacher activity will go a long way to changing this status quo.

Learning through experience

Milind Tambe and Ms.

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Fang, of the USC computer science department, developed a game theory application which is rather aptly known as PAWS, (Protection Assistant for Wildlife Sanctuary). The intelligent app has been tested in Uganda and Malaysia. It was found that many game rangers undertake predictable patrols, but with the new App, they are able to “randomize” the areas they visit and factor in the most effective ways to cover areas that poachers may target. The intelligent App is able to adapt and adjust through learning experience.

Game theory in war

Game Theory has been used in war situations and the fight against poachers is a war. Now technology is able to take this mathematical analysis of strategy, to assist rangers in dealing with critical situations. The App allows them to predict an outcome based on “choice of action.” The application is not perfect but like any computer based software, bugs and upgrades will no doubt emerge as time goes by.


Combined technology

The App, which was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is unlikely to be a stand-alone answer to the problems of countering poachers, but combined with other new technology such as robotic animals and conservation drones, it should help to make a difference in the fight to combat the terrible losses of wildlife.

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