Analyzing information to save a species

Marwell Wildlife is using predictive analytics software to help conserve an endangered species, Grevy’s zebra. Marwell is conducting a survey that involves interviewing nomadic herdsmen about their attitudes toward the zebras, what they consider key threats facing the species, and where they have observed the zebras. It is currently estimated that about 2,500 Grevy’s zebra exist in the wild, in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia.

The information Marwell gleans from the herdsmen, as well as data from aerial surveys, camera traps and radio collars on the zebras, will be analyzed through a solution powered by IBM SPSS predictive analytics software. Through the solution, Marwell and its conservation partners hope to gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding the zebra, as well as the threats the species faces. That data will help determine where to focus conservation resources. For instance, one reason people hunt the zebras is to make traditional medicines from their body fat. If the herding communities could access modern medicines, they would have less need to hunt the zebra.

Dr. Guy Parker, head of biodiversity management at Marwell Wildlife, says, “The data from the surveys is vast and complex and requires powerful software to analyze it. The software is ideal for identifying trends and patterns. In the case of the recent interview survey, the software enabled us to determine people’s attitudes toward the Grevy’s zebra. Furthermore, we were able to determine what influence factors such as education level, age, location and wildlife benefits had upon people’s attitudes. That is the kind of complex multivariate analysis that the IBM predictive analytics software is designed to tackle.”

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