In May of this year, the largest locust infestation in a quarter century descended on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, stripping 5 million hectares of grazing land. With another swarm predicted for September, farmers in the province have joined with researchers to introduce a high-tech innovation to combat this. It is a software package to track locust swarms in real time in the hopes of targeting them for extermination before they cause severe damage.
This will mark the first time the cutting edge software is used to track locusts in South Africa, says Bruce Jones, the country representative for EarthRanger, a software product of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a non-profit research institute. The software solution, developed by Vulcan Incorporated in partnership with several conservation and technology partners, combines real-time data from ranger patrols, remote imaging and various sensors to generate real time wildlife and/or pest reports covering vast swaths of land.