How Do You Count Endangered Species? Look to the Stars

How Do You Count Endangered Species? Look to the Stars

By JOANNA KLEIN  

A thermal image of elephants, part of an effort to apply tools from astronomy to help conservationists and fight poaching. Credit Endangered Wildlife Trust/LJMU

The conversation started over a fence dividing two backyards. On one side, an ecologist remarked that surveying animals is a pain. His neighbor, an astronomer, said he could see objects in space billions of light years away.

And so began an unusual partnership to adapt tools originally developed to detect stars in the sky to monitor animals on the ground.

The neighbors, Steven Longmore, the astronomer, and Serge Wich, the ecologist, both of Liverpool John Moores University in England, made their backyard banter a reality that may contribute to conservation and the fight against poaching…