Wednesday, 27 May 2020 09:39

CSIRO project to herd feral wild animals from space

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Water buffalo in Northern Australia. Water buffalo in Northern Australia. Photo: Peter Cooke

Australia's national science agency CSIRO has set up a satellite herd-tracking program, it claims is the world's biggest, to track more than 1000 feral buffalo and unmanned cattle present in Northern Australia.

In a statement, the agency said the $4 million 3-½-year project would look to convert these animals into "economic, environmental and cultural opportunities for Indigenous communities across the region", and also create new "best practice" for managing large herds using space technology.

The CSIRO's initiative coincides with National Reconciliation Week.

Tracking the animals will be done through GPS-tracking tags attached to their ears and will take place across 22,314 square kilometres, from the Arafura swamp catchment in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, and Upper Normanby and Archer River on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said: “Australia’s burgeoning space industry is creating exciting new possibilities for innovative science and technology to solve our greatest challenges, like using satellites to manage our wide, open land in more culturally and environmentally sensitive ways.

satellite

The Kineis nanosatellite which is planned for launch in 2022. Photo: David Ducros

“This unique partnership is a reminder that the new frontier of space is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of our past, and work alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure that space-enabled technology is being put to best use to improve the land we all share.

“The benefits of space should be available to all Australians, which is why we and our partners will make the schematics, software and code that power the system publicly available for free under creative commons, so other communities can also benefit.”

CSIRO and Charles Darwin University will develop the data management tools; James Cook University will create the GPS-tracking ear tags; satellite company Kineis will provide access to their satellite fleet and technical expertise; and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance will drive efforts on the ground in partnership with Mimal Land Management Aboriginal Corporation, Aak Puul Ngangtam, and Normanby Land Management.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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