Puerto Iguazú, Posadas, Paso de la Patria

Argentina, February 2020

Since November to March it was a pretty busy time for me, I’ve been traveling to Misiones and Corrientes for several reasons, from meetings to field tests in hostile environments for technology.

 

I met some people from Vida Silvestre and CONICET and the most important thing from the technical point of view was a visit to a conservation site where Rewilding Argentina takes care of a beautiful Jaguar. To meet the Cat was something incredible, from the smell and sounds to the way She looks and moves. The Cat is blind and she proudly showed off that that fact is not a limitation to her, she moves in her private jungle and lunch room quite elegantly.

A BIG THANK YOU TO:

GONZALO

JOSEFINA

FLAVIA

SEBASTIAN

ELENA

JORGE

And all the engaged people of Iguazú, such as Lucio and his art.

But, the first things first, Misiones is my main target, mainly because it is a touristic place and the rush to transport tourists to the waterfall is a huge risk regarding road accidents involving wildlife. I placed several devices there to see how accurate #GPS measurements are and how good the reach of #LoRa radios is. The results were quite amazing.

 

Regarding LoRa coverage, I was really surprised, a cheap usd80 (it includes a Cortex MCU and an additional WiFi chip) radio managed to reach > 10 Kilometers in line of sight, but what surprised me the most is that I placed some of them inside rain forests and they managed to reach between 1KM and 1.6KM, which is far more distance than the required taking into account that BCB devices relies on Smart cameras and Mics than can handle 100 meters at best (depending on the model and search strategies).

 

GPS was another story, on some tests it took a while to get fresh data from the Satellites, in some cases, up to 4 minutes. It was surprisingly bad but not really a concern because current BCB devices are meant to be installed on fixed positions.

Besides those tests, I had the chance to have a couple of meetings with the staff of Vida Silvestre, a WFF partner, some remotely, some in person. I described the project to them and I gather some valuable information about their views on the problem from different angles. The meetings were good to understand a bit more about the regional problems and the way people handles the critical situation of Jaguars from a psychological perspective as well.

I also visited a regional news paper to talk about the project, Primera Edicion, the journalist wishes towards BCB were encouraging given the fact that this kind of projects and the way I am running it is full of set backs and disappointments, specially because I depend on the good will of many actors.

However from a personal perspective, the most rewarding thing was the visit to Agará, Corrientes. After my trip to the US to present the Smart Cameras, I met Sebastian Di Martino from Rewilding Argentina, he is the responsible of reintroducing Jaguars (and other extincted species) in the places they used to live; they are doing an amazing job. I encourage you to visit their site to see how amazing their job is (from several perspectives) https://rewildingargentina.org/.

 

Sebastian pointed me to Agará, a conversation site in the Corrientes state where they take care of a female Jaguar. The goal there was to take pictures of the Jaguar to train the neural network models. The cameras I presented in the Silicon Valley were trained with a toy Leopard, it wasn’t a huge deal, they were effective to demonstrate the potential uses of the devices. However, to accomplish the final goal, real Jaguars were needed to train the models.

So, I headed to Paso de la Patria, and the experience was… Amazing, I was really shocked the moment I saw the Big Cat for the first time, a wonderful animal, to my surprise, it is the same Jaguar I use for BCB's documentation, the most beautiful one I saw; there, Elena Martin, a gentle Veterinarian (She is not that gentle the moment she starts using her whistle) allowed me to spend a few hour alone with the Jaguar to take pictures of her from all the angles. It was a really hot day, I was melting down, over 40 degree Celsius. I used several cameras to capture the images, everything was about to melt down, even my phone. The remarkable thing was that the main equipment in question, the Sony Spresense, didn’t bother about the heat, the benefits of low power consumption equipment, including its camera.

A few days after that, the pandemic was spread around the world and I was forced me to stop all the field activities. It doesn’t mean BCB’s progress is stopped, on the contrary. I think Nature is talking louder than ever.

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Big Cat Brother is a network of intelligent connected devices built to mitigate the common death causes that are putting Jaguars at direct risk of extinction.

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