The Lion Identification Network of Collaborators (LINC) is an open source system comprised of a shared database allowing lion researchers and conservationists to follow roaming lions across vast landscapes. The system employs new methodologies for sharing data across research initiatives as well as innovative search features such as automated lion recognition software, which uses photographs of either the lion’s face or whiskers to identify individual lions.
How will LINC help?
We know that lions, especially male lions, can move large distances between populations. But we are not sure of which populations are healthy enough to send out dispersing males, how often this happens or where they reach. This activity of dispersing is one of the most important ecological processes, although it remains one of the least understood. By working together we increase the probability of detecting these dispersers and understanding their movements.
Why open source?
Open source software is software whose source code is available for modification or enhancement. This method of development allows a community to focus its combined energy, building on previous work and using the shared experience of many organizations. The goal of protecting the last remaining lions is a challenging problem and one that requires the combined efforts of many. Keeping this in mind, the team behind LINC has ensured that the code base is open sourced and available to the community.
With this project researchers and conservationists now have the opportunity to expand their conservation efforts and understanding of lion dispersal to efficiently encompass and help protect the full domains of the last lions in East Africa .