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UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Applied in Focus. Global in Reach


The future of digital poachers – where to for digital conservation?

By isabellamanghi, on 29 July 2019

MPA student Isabella Manghi reflects on her interest in Digital Conservation which she explored as part of her Digital Technology and Public Policy degree at UCL STEaPP.

Image of elephants

© Isabella Manghi

The effects of the climate crisis together with factors such as the expanding human population, pollution, and a lack of sustainable development have led to the endangerment of many species. Biologists, researchers, charities and international organisations are desperately fighting to preserve our biodiversity and therefore proving essential to research on behavioural patterns and the effects of the climate on different species.

Biologists, organisations and charities have traditionally employed locals to track certain animals, but recently, digital tracking, which can take the form of mounting collars onto animals, has emerged as a method to facilitate crucial knowledge production within the conservation community. Through the application of technological, inter-connected systems, the opportunities to study diverse species have increased. Yet, there are eminent problems associated with these systems, many of which are vulnerable to exploitation and misuse, including allowing poachers to track down and hunt endangered species to the benefit of their bank account.