During the past decade, the wildlife conservation sector has enthusiastically embraced a range of technologies. Tools such as surveillance cameras, drones, satellite imagery, databases meshed with visualisation functionalities have been deployed in the hope that they will facilitate monitoring of protected areas, as well as the detection and apprehension of wildlife crime offenders.
While there are lively debates around the best technical specifications, or appropriate business models for adoption of technologies, much remains to be uncovered about the social and political impact of these technologies.
Research from the BIOSEC project aims to fill this gap by highlighting what the increased adoption of technologies means for conservation labour. Unprecedented data collection, automated data analysis and the multiplication of performance metrics are modifying the day to day practices of those working in the conservation sector. Often coupled with methods inspired by criminology, policing and the military, technological insights affect practitioners’ understandings of poaching, illegal logging and trafficking as well as ideas about what appropriate responses are. We unravel how this happens and with what effect.
BIOSEC team members are also examining the impact unprecedented data collection has on communities living in or around conserved areas and protected species. How are their rights, wellbeing and relationship to conservation affected by the presence of these technologies?