From AI to satellite monitoring: Malaysia ups its wildlife conservation game

NRES focuses on tech to save Malayan tigers, forests.

10 Mar 2024 05:03pm
Nik Nazmi - File photo by Bernama
Nik Nazmi - File photo by Bernama

PUTRAJAYA - The importance of digital innovation and initiatives to encourage its usage will continue to be strengthened in protecting and conserving the precious national treasure of wildlife and flora, said Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

In a message issued in conjunction with World Wildlife Day recently, he said this aligns with the theme for this year's celebration, which is 'Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation'.

"This theme is chosen to raise public awareness about the importance of digital innovation in efforts to strengthen the conservation of wildlife and flora, including aspects of research, communication, detection, as well as more efficient and effective DNA analysis," he said.

Nik Nazmi said in the aspect of wildlife, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES) through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) has taken initiatives to explore the use of technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled camera traps to monitor wildlife species.

Other efforts include the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) such as drones to monitor the presence and movement of wildlife and satellite usage for the development of an early warning system.

Nik Nazmi said besides ensuring the survival of the Malayan tiger in its natural habitat (in-situ), ex-situ conservation is critical because the population of the Malayan tiger in its natural habitat is very low.

He said Perhilitan has strengthened the National Wildlife Forensic Laboratory with the acquisition of high-tech laboratory equipment to enhance forensic capacity, ex-situ conservation, bio-banking, Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and monitoring of zoonotic diseases.

"This approach can enhance the implementation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) programmes to help increase the population of Malayan tigers in captivity through artificial insemination methods," he said.

Related Articles:

In terms of forest management, Nik Nazmi said NRES through the Department of Forestry Peninsular Malaysia (JPSM) has utilised technology such as the Forest Monitoring using Remote Sensing (FMRS) system to detect any changes that occur in permanent forest reserves in the peninsula.

He said the Sabah Forestry Department, in collaboration with the Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA), has developed the iForSabah system using satellite imagery as a remote sensing monitoring measure to detect any changes occurring in the forest reserve areas in Sabah.

Meanwhile, the Sarawak Forestry Department has developed the Continuous Monitoring of Surveillance (COMOS) system, which combines satellite image analysis and verifies coordinates using hyperspectral airborne sensing systems to assist enforcement actions in the field. - BERNAMA