"Everybody who visits Kasanka National Park in Zambia during “bat season”
agrees that the evening emergence of African straw-coloured fruit bats from
their roost site is one of the wildlife wonders of the world. The bats
) arrive at Kasanka every year around October. The numbers
swell rapidly until they peak in November. By January they are gone again.
Once they recover from the shock of the breathtaking spectacle, everyone also
converges on the same question – how many bats are there? So many fly out so
fast, it seems impossible to count them. Past estimates based on visual counts
have ranged from 1 million to 10 million, a sign of how difficult the task is.
To crack the problem we clearly needed a new approach. Using an array of small
video cameras, we filmed the bats leaving their roost and then developed
artificial intelligence to count them. This offers an inexpensive, fast and
repeatable way to count large numbers of moving animals.
Our average estimate for the Kasanka colony for five days in November 2019 was
857,233 bats. This makes it one of the biggest bat colonies in the world, and
the most important in Africa.
The next question is why we wanted to count them."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics