Wildlife conservation has become a top priority in many countries where the no. of endangered wildlife species is continuously on the rise. That being said, wildlife protection is our shared responsibility as we as human, the most wise and intelligent of species in the food chain have to make choices that don’t threaten the existence of the natural world around us.
By leveraging modern-age technologies like IoT, LoRaWAN, AIDC etc., we can identify and track animals that need our protection the most. With advent of 5G internet and continuous development in short range and long range network technologies, it has become increasing feasible to take long term view of how we want to process to monitor and track endangered species without disturbing their natural habitat or without causing them any harm. Same goes for cattle and livestock tracking and health monitoring.
Radio Frequency Identification, as an AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Capture) tool provides a cost-effective, accurate and reliable opportunity to track and monitor the health of wildlife and livestock.
RFID: A wireless technology fit for identification
Radio-frequency identification or RFID is a technology that uses radio waves to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The technology itself is pretty simple to understand as you might be familiar with how other wireless technologies work like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. For RFID to work, it uses a system of three components namely an RFID tag, an RFID reader and an antenna.
An RFID tag can be affixed to an object and used to track tools, equipment, inventory, assets, people, or other objects. Whenever an RFID tagged (active RFID tag or passive RFID tag) is in the range of an RFID reader, the tag sends the encoded data (identification no., name, etc.) to the reader with the help of RFID antenna and the reader decides or reads the signals for the end users, showing it on a screen.
RFID tags are used in many industries. An RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line and RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses as well.
RFID for animal Tracking and wildlife conservation
RFID is a versatile technology that has the potential to revolutionize animal tracking and wildlife conservation. Radio frequency identification tags (RFID microchips) can be implanted in livestock and pets to enable positive identification of animals. The tags are also being used to help the environment by tracking animals in the wild.
The use of RFID in wildlife monitoring has gained momentum in recent years, with active RFID tags/collars used in applications on larger species, for example, tracking koala use of road overpasses and elephant movements in zoos. This has had a significantly positive impact on wildlife conservation efforts and helped researchers with renewed conservation efforts.
RFID tags can be attached to animals in a variety of ways, including collars, ear tags, and implants. Once an RFID tag is attached to an animal, it can be used to track the animal's movements, location, and behavior.
Take the Welgovenden Game Reserve, South Africa for example, which has gone beyond simply using tracking devices to monitor endangered species. They have established an extensive network of IoT, RFID and other sensors that can not only track animal behavior, but also monitor parts of the forest for any changes or disruptions. What is particularly fascinating is that the data collected through these IoT devices is analyzed by machine learning systems, which can learn to identify patterns and relationships between different factors, allowing more control and data backed decision making.
The Advantages of RFID for Animal Tracking and Wildlife Conservation
The RFID technology has a number of advantages over other animal tracking technologies, such as GPS and satellite telemetry. RFID tags are small, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive. They can also be read from a distance, which makes them ideal for tracking animals in remote areas and RFID tags can be programmed to store a variety of data, such as the animal's identification number, age, sex, and health status as well.
Some additional advantages of using RFID in wildlife conservation and animal tracking are as follows:
RFID tags are non-intrusive
RFID tags can be attached to animals in a variety of ways, including collars, ear tags, and implants. The tags are small and lightweight, and they do not cause any pain or discomfort to the animals.
These tags are designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions. They can be used in wet, humid, and hot climates, and they are resistant to damage from sunlight and other environmental factors.
RFID tags are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install. The cost of RFID tags is often offset by the savings that can be achieved by improving the efficiency of wildlife management operations.
Use of IoT and RFID technologies to protect wildlife especially the endangered species is our best bet towards creating a sustainable wildlife ecosystem. Not only it can help us analyze the specific problems wildlife face but also allows us to be non-intrusive, transmitting valuable data remotely. When RFID is used in combination with other long range technologies like UWB (Ultra Wide Band) and LPWAN (Low Powered Wide Area Network), it provides a real-time, long range monitoring of wildlife.