How AI is helping track the growing monkey population in India 

Stories about antisocial simians in India abound in the press. In one memorable example, a monkey stole a pile of money from a house, climbed a nearby tree and threw handfuls of cash to grateful citizens below.
But not all tales of primates behaving badly are quite so amusing.
People across India suffer around 1,000 monkey-bite injuries every day. The animals steal food and anything else they can get their hands on – a­nd they can cause devastating damage to property.

As towns and cities grow, they often expand into territories that were once the exclusive domain of wild animals. For some creatures, the result is displacement, which can lead to population collapse. However, for India’s monkeys, it has opened the door to a life of plenty.
Rather than spending their days foraging while keeping watch for predators, they now have an abundance of meal options – leftovers, discarded food and the contents of people’s homes and businesses. With easy access to all that nourishment and thus more time on their hands, it’s no surprise India’s urban monkey populations are on the rise.

Shukla has helped put together a project to make humane population-control methods more focused and effective, weaving together AI tools, machine learning and Microsoft Azure to record and recognize individual monkeys. That data is then combined with projects to administer contraception or carry out sterilization procedures.

The inclusion of geolocation data allows the researchers to see the nature of a particular troops’ travels across a given area. That can prove useful in detecting population displacements, which might lead to an increase in conflict between humans and monkeys.

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