Artificial Intelligence (AI) Can Help Detect Illegal Tortoise Shells

Artificial Intelligence is now being used to tackle the illegal trade of tortoise shells. Brad Nahill, the president of the turtle conservation group, has initiated a program called SEE Shell.

“It was plastic before plastic was invented because it’s so malleable,” says Nahill. His organization is leading an attempt to tell the difference between real and imitation tortoiseshell because it is frequently being duplicated with resin. 

illegal tortoise shells
(Image source: unsplash)

SEE Turtles collaborated with the Smithsonian OCIO Data Science Lab to create an app to assist. In this App, they will use machine learning to determine whether a photo of something with a tortoiseshell pattern is real or fake with 94 percent accuracy. 

According to Alexander Robillard, it is the first smartphone app to employ computer vision to combat the illicit wildlife trade. Furthermore, it will help educate conservation-minded buyers and law enforcement. The App is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The app is also useful because of the wealth of data it can supply. SEE Turtles can discover hot places for unlawful sales by uploading all photographs to a confidential, centralized database with GPS coordinates for each.

Nahill has gathered data and according to that the tortoiseshell is still sold on the black market in at least 40 countries. Surprisingly, the majority of sales are taking place in Central America and Southeast Asia. The vast majority of the illegal sales are made by tourists purchasing tortoiseshell items from gift shops and souvenir stands while on vacation.

Nahill and his team are effortlessly trying to stop the illegal trade of tortoise shells. They have now noted a key difference between a real and faux turtle shell. That is the pattern on the shell. The real shell has a random pattern whereas, fake shell has almost the same pattern with uniformed edges.

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