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Thermal Imaging

This month on Newsdesk: Elephant-detecting cameras, drones deliver medicines, and Fiji’s coral reefs recover!

Elephant-detecting cameras

Elephants live across large areas of Africa and Asia. Most of the time, they stay well away from people, but sometimes they come into close contact with human communities.

Occasionally, they can end up damaging property and crops and, on rare occasions, seriously hurt people by trampling on them. Now, researchers are testing a device that will allow elephants and humans to exist side by side more safely – an elephant-detecting camera.

Using thermal technology, the camera detects different temperatures in the local environment. Areas of warmth recorded by the camera are known as “heat patterns.” When a heat pattern in the shape of an elephant comes into view, the camera is able to recognise the shape and send a signal warning that an elephant has been spotted, alerting people to the potential danger.

If the cameras become widely used, they will offer communities vital warnings about wandering elephants, allowing humans and elephants to live together far more peacefully.

Drones deliver medicines

Every day, hospitals and pharmacies distribute medicines to millions of people. However, in some parts of the world, a lack of medical facilities makes it difficult for local people to access essential medicines.

Now, doctors in Africa have a new way to get medical supplies to remote areas – delivering medicines by drone! The drones are loaded with supplies at a warehouse, launched into the sky, and flown to where the supplies are needed.

When a drone reaches the drop-off location, the cargo is released and the medicines parachute safely to the ground. So far, the drones have dropped off over 400,000 medical packages.

And, in April, the drones will start transporting COVID-19 vaccines across Ghana and Rwanda. These are vital deliveries that will ensure remote communities in Africa gain the same protection from the virus as residents in urban areas.

Fiji’s coral reefs recover

Fiji is a country in the South Pacific, made up of more than three hundred small islands. Fiji is home to some of the world's most vibrant coral reefs.

In 2016, a devastating cyclone struck Fiji, destroying buildings, making thousands homeless, and damaging the islands' fragile reefs. Storm surges caused by the cyclone broke up many groups of coral, and many sections of reef withered and died.

However, five years on from the cyclone, Fiji's coral reefs have naturally bounced back to health, and are once again teeming with life and colour! Coral reefs like Fiji's play a vital role in ocean ecosystems, providing an essential habitat for many fish species.

Marine biologists are surprised at how well Fiji's coral has recovered, and are now working to protect the reefs from damage caused by overfishing. If too many algae-eating fish disappear from reefs, coral can quickly become overwhelmed with algae and die.

Working with local fishing communities to set up “no fishing areas,” conservationists hope to protect Fiji's coral so it can continue to thrive!

Learn more about thermal cameras by watching the Twig Film Thermal Imaging.

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