TODAY |

Kiwi conservation efforts get helping hand from new computer algorithm

Special new computer programmes could be the latest saviour for the endangered kiwi.

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The technology can analyse audio previously done manually by volunteers. Source: 1 NEWS

There are only around 68,000 kiwi left and they're disappearing at a rate of around 20 per week in the wild.

As part of conservation efforts, recorders capture the calls of New Zealand's national bird from the heart of its native habitat.

The Department of Conservation has been recording the clips since 2018 to work out how many kiwi are in a particular area and if its preservation efforts are working.

Hundreds of hours of audio have to be manually analysed by volunteers, noting down every time they hear a kiwi call.

"There's roughly about 40,000 hours worth so it'd take someone two-and-a-half years working full-time going through those files," Department of Conservation's Nik Joyce told 1 NEWS.

Wellington computer scientist Nirosha Priyadarshani is part of the team who have created a time-saving solution.

They've built a computer algorithm trained to do the same job at breakneck speed.

"We could analyse it in less than 100 hours, so it's a huge difference we made," she said.

Researchers hope they'll be able to retrain the algorithm to listen out for other critters and even predators.

"It is sad to see how fast they're being endangered and going extinct," Priyadarshani said.

"Many of the species require extensive conservation management to be successful, so that is where we play our part."

Joyce is also hopeful about future opportunities.

"We're really hoping in the future that the AI will actually identify individual kiwi."