January 2022 Newsletter: Save Nature With Sound

This year, we encourage people to work toward helping save our planet that we share with many species of plants and animals throughout the world’s various ecosystems. Read on to learn more about how sound technology is being used to stop illegal action in the rainforests.

One of the most well-known disrupted ecosystems on the planet are the rainforests. These regions are often exploited for their unique inhabitants, including rare wildlife and plants. Poaching, or the illegal hunting of animals, as well as illegal deforestation, are commonplace in rainforests around the globe. Efforts are being made to address these issues; one company based out of San Francisco, called Rainforest Connection (RFCx), has decided to deploy their technology in rainforests across 22 countries in an effort to halt offenders in their tracks.

RFCx has developed a real-time anti-logging and anti-poaching acoustic monitoring technology which listens for audio signals associated with these crimes. Once a specific logging or poaching signal is detected, such as the sound of a chainsaw or gunshot, RFCx’s system automatically alerts the local authorities who in turn take action. The monitoring units are called “Guardian Devices” and are installed in high tree-top canopies (pictured below). 

These units are powered by solar technology and capture ambient sound within the vicinity. By monitoring these acoustic devices, the response time of local authorities is substantially faster than the use of conventional visual detection devices, such as satellites or drones. Additionally, the general public has access to the Guardian devices through RFCx’s mobile app, call Rainforest Connection Player, which allows the user to listen to live audio streams of rainforests across the globe; listen for rare birdsong, the howls of exotic monkeys, and even parrots!

 Rainforest Connection Player for Apple

Rainforest Connection Player for Android

RFCx isn’t the only organization taking a stand against the endangerment of rainforests. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has founded The Elephant Listening Project, whose mission is to conserve the tropical forests of Africa through acoustic monitoring, sound science, and education, focusing on forest elephants. Their current recording unit, called SWIFT, can run for three months with a 1kg battery. Another propriety technology from Cornell’s Center for Conservation Bioacoustics (CCB) is Robin, a real-time detection and reporting unit used to monitor marine and terrestrial environments for illegal activity. Robin combines listening devices and thermal imaging to accomplish its mission. Follow the link below to get an inside peak on how this technology captures sound of various ecosystems.

CCB Robin Detection Interface

If you’re interested in identifying birdsong from one of these systems, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has also developed BirdNET, which is an AI-powered bird sound recognition software – kind of like Shazam for birds!

We hope this insight of new technology being developed to improve our world excites and motivates you as we enter 2022. Hopefully, you will begin to make your own efforts to improve the health of our planet, no matter how big or small. Happy New Year!


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