China Daily

New tech to record faces of rare monkeys


XI’AN — Scientists are developing facial recognitio­n technology for golden snub-nosed monkeys, also known as golden monkeys, a protected species living in the Qinling Mountains.

The research team, comprised of scientists from Xi’an in Shaanxi province, is also the first in China to systematic­ally study golden monkeys in the wild.

The face recognitio­n technology aims to establish an informatio­n database of golden monkeys in the Qinling Mountains by recording the animals’ facial features.

The technology is still in the experiment­al stage, but is currently able to recognize about 200 golden monkeys. “We take 700 to 800 photos of each monkey, while the recognitio­n rate can reach 94 percent,” said Zhang He, a member of the research team. The system can be used in infrared cameras set in the wild to automatica­lly spot monkeys, identify them and record their behaviors, he said.

Monkey facial recognitio­n is difficult as the animals are hairier than humans with subtle facial feature difference­s, requiring the system to have a deeper learning ability.

“We need more high-resolution images to improve the recognitio­n rate,” said team leader Li Baoguo. “But that is extremely difficult as the monkeys don’t cooperate with the cameras in the wild.”

The new technology will significan­tly boost the study of the monkeys as they mature, as traditiona­lly it takes scientists one to two years to conduct in-depth behavioral analysis on a specific colony.

“If the monkey facial recognitio­n technology is adopted, early studies of the species, including location, identifica­tion and the observatio­n of behaviors, will be greatly shortened, thus improving research efficiency,” Li said.

The Qinling Mountains are home to about 4,000 golden snub-nosed monkeys, which stay all year round in the forests at an altitude of 1,500 meters to 3,300 meters. The mountains also have a huge variety of plants and wild animals such as giant pandas and crested ibis.

 ?? LIU XIAO / XINHUA ?? A family of golden snub-nosed monkeys in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi province.
LIU XIAO / XINHUA A family of golden snub-nosed monkeys in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi province.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Hong Kong