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World-first combination of trail cameras, AI and volunteers used to find out robust hedgehog population estimates for the first time - PTES

a night vision image of a hedgehog with shining eyes
A hedgehog spotted on a trail camera as part of the new National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme. Credit National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme

The ground-breaking new National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme uses sophisticated, cutting-edge AI technology to help hedgehogs, a world-first in hedgehog conservation.

For the first time the results will provide robust estimates of hedgehog numbers in different parts of the country, how these are changing year on year, and in time, a national estimate.

Volunteers across the UK are needed to identify images of hedgehogs (and other wildlife) online as part of the project, and can do so from the comfort of their own home.

The results will give crucial insights into what’s causing hedgehog populations to decline so rapidly (between 30 and 75% in rural areas since 2000*). Once this is understood, practical conservation measures can be implemented.

A pioneering new three-year pilot project – the National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme (NHMP) – has been launched. For the first time, this will enable robust estimates of hedgehog populations in different habitats across the country, show how these are changing year on year, and, in time, give a national estimate of Britain’s hedgehog population. The new project utilises sophisticated, cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI), which is a world-first in hedgehog conservation.

Led by wildlife charities The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, ZSL’s London HogWatch, Durham University and MammalWeb, and largely funded by Natural England, this unique combination of AI, trail cameras and home-based volunteers will produce crucial insights into the factors causing hedgehog populations to plummet, and enable conservationists to implement practical conservation measures to try to reverse the decline.

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Posted On: 25/03/2024

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