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Teen Invents ML Tool to Detect Elephant Poachers in Real Time

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Aniki Puri created a low-cost prototype of machine learning-driven software that analyzes movement patterns in thermal infrared videos of humans and elephants.

Credit: Society for Science

Anika Puri's fight against poaching began four years ago during a visit to India with her family. The teen was shocked when she came across a market in Mumbai filled with rows of ivory jewelry and statues. "I was quite taken aback," the 17-year-old from Chappaqua, New York, told Smithsonian Magazine. "Because I always thought, 'well, poaching is illegal, how come it really is still such a big issue?'" Intrigued, Puri did some research on the matter and was stunned when she discovered Africa's forest elephant population had declined by about 62% between the years 2002 and 2011. The numbers have continued to drop in the years that followed.

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