Who We Are
Our journey began in 2014 around the time of the Great Elephant Census – a continent-wide survey of the entire African elephant population, conceptualised by Paul G. Allen and Elephants Without Borders, that spanned 2 years, 500 000 km, 10 000 hours, 18 countries, and involved a team of 90 scientists and 286 crew. Paul Maritz, our founder and financier, was convinced that there must be a way to both reduce the cost, and improve the accuracy, of elephant surveying using modern technology. While the development of such technology would come too late for the Great Elephant Census, it would allow for surveys to be conducted more frequently, and at a lower cost in future.
Our mission was then expanded following discussions with Justin Seymour-Smith – the surveys manager for the Trans-Kalahari Predator Programme run by the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). Paul identified the need to automate the tedious process of annotating the vast quantities of data generated by camera-trap surveys. Again, modern technology offered the opportunity to both reduce the cost, and improve the accuracy of these surveys. Importantly, this would allow such surveys to be performed more regularly, as well as free up the valuable time of the researchers involved.
These projects were combined under a new AI-conservation organisation known as WildEye that would seek to further expand Paul’s vision and provide AI-focused assistance to the conservation community.