Combining wildlife detection innovations with social media technologies to achieve ecological activism

Dr Sam Wong1

1University College Roosevelt, Middelburg, Netherlands

More advanced wildlife detection and monitoring innovations, such as satellite technology, high resolution imagery and Big Data, have been developed over the past decade. The technological advancement has enabled scientists to track the wildlife movement and monitor the changing population of certain species more accurately. At the same time, social media technologies, such as Facebook and Youtube, have become more popular. This paper examines how the combination of these two types of technologies could help scientists make the process of wildlife detection more efficient and effective, and simultaneously promote ecological conservation.

The wildlife detection processes can be democratised through social media. The general public has long been involved with counting bees and identifying rare bird species. Yet, the engagement is often restricted to particular communities in certain locations. Contrarily, using Facebook, for example, could reach a wider audience from different parts of the world at much lower costs.

Protecting endangered species often requires evidence, such as photos, in order to put criminals to jail. Providing local communities with filming equipment and digital training would help collect evidence and deter illegal activities, such as poaching. Putting clips to Youtube could expose corrupt government officials involved with endangered species trade.

However, the downsides of using social media in wildlife detection should not be over-looked. Unregulated and excessive use of drones may damage wildlife habitats. Perpetuators could make use of detection technologies to avoid being caught. They could also use Facebook to spread fake news and sabotage the work of conservationists.


Dr Sam Wong obtained his PhD in International Development at the University of Bradford, UK. His research lies in sustainable development, Information and Communication Technology, poverty reduction and governance. He has published a book and more than 20 high-impact journal articles. He has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria) and South Asia (Bangladesh and India). He has obtained more than 200K pounds from various UK Research Councils and independent funders. He is currently lecturing at University College Roosevelt, the first Liberal Arts and Science University College developed in the Netherlands.

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