Four Innovative Ways Technology Is Helping Animals
By Space Coast Daily // March 7, 2019
The numerous developments in technology nowadays impact not only humans but animals as well. Experts in science and animal life are now able to help improve the lives of animals in a variety of ways with the aid of new tools and high-tech techniques.
The new technology available gives scientists valuable information that they can use to understand, care for, and protect animals.
Here are some ways that current technology is helping animals:
Enhancing the study of animal genetics
High-throughput sequencing is a set of techniques that now enable scientists to study large regions of a genome instead of independent genes. These techniques have given experts more insights about animals in a better and faster manner. High-throughput sequencing is especially helpful for ornithologists in understanding varied species of birds.
With this technology for genetics, scientists are able to pinpoint even minute genetic variations between populations of birds.
For example, ornithologists are now able to understand the subtle differences in the patterns of feathers among the varied types of the bird Wilson’s Warbler.
Experts may likewise use high-throughput sequencing techniques to understand how amazing and genetically-advanced parrots are compared to other birds.
Protecting wildlife from illegal activities
Highly-advanced devices and software for animal supervision and protection are continuously being developed by animal conservationists and app developers to catch wildlife poachers and traffickers. This is more important as crimes against animals are now carried out online.
One such example is the SMART software, which was created by the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the London and Frankfurt zoos.
The acronym for the software stands for Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART). This program has been specifically created to protect animals such as elephants, rhinos, snow leopards, as well as dolphins. It’s currently being used at over 2,000 locations all over the world to monitor animal populations.
SMART allows conservationists to gather, scrutinize, and dispatch data on animals, prohibited activities, and protection groups. The software enables animal rangers to respond more efficiently to animals in danger and to protect wildlife living on vast areas of land.
Helping injured animals with prosthetics
In the same way that prosthetics help humans who’ve lost limbs, prosthetic technology is now developing artificial limbs to care for injured animals. As an example, Animal Orthocare is a business started by Derrick Campana over a decade ago.
Ever since he began his work with animal prosthetics, Campana has been able to help over 10,000 animals. Most of his patients have been dogs as well as farm and zoo animals. His most memorable case was creating prosthetics for two elephants in Thailand, whose front limbs were injured due to landmines.
The prosthetics developed by Animal Orthocare are made of very durable, medical-grade foam and plastic. These are tailor-fit on plaster molds that come from limb casts sent to Animal Orthocare by owners, veterinarians, and animal rehabilitation clinics from all over the world.
With his work, Campana is giving owners alternatives to costly surgeries or euthanasia for their disabled animals.
Saving endangered animals by preserving their DNA
Nowadays, there are DNA banks dedicated especially for endangered animals. Over a dozen zoos and animal conservation groups all over the world have been storing and preserving genetic material extracted from animals in danger of extinction in the near future.
Some of these zoos are the San Diego Zoo (also called the Frozen Zoo), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, and the Frozen Ark project created by three British institutions.
DNA banks are collecting data on the biochemistry, physiology, as well as the habitats in which the endangered animals have thrived. These banks exist to help in the conservation of rare animal species.
Scientists use genetic material to infuse endangered populations with fresh DNA material in order to increase their survival rates.
Moreover, DNA banks aim to enlarge the population size of endangered animals by creating new individuals. The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, as early as 1999, was able to achieve the first case of interspecies birth wherein an African wildcat kitten, whose embryo had been preserved in their DNA bank, was born from a domestic house cat.
Forensic works with endangered animals are also being conducted at animal DNA banks. In early 2000, experts at the University of Trent in Canada created a DNA bank specifically for Gyrfalcons and Peregrine falcons in order to differentiate wild birds from birds that have been raised in captivity.
Another DNA bank was dedicated to the genetic material of Amazon parrots to help scientists tell which birds were illegally traded.
With these advancements in technology all geared towards safeguarding animals, scientists and animal conservation groups are better able to do their jobs of studying and tracking varied species, protecting animals from being victimized, healing injured animals, and saving endangered species.
These are all indeed good uses of technology, designed by humans for the benefit of animals.
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