Tigers have unique stripe patterns (somewhat like our fingerprints). Most experts recognize individuals based upon a long examination, years of experience and observation of the stripes on their sides. This is OK when you speak of a few individual big cats, but when there are hundreds of tigers to track, things get a little more tiring.
As usual when a human task becomes really tiring and inefficient, the computer software is here to help. Here comes a software from Lex Hilby from Conservation Research. Ullas Karanth from the Wildlife Conservation Society has tested Hilby’s programme using photos of tigers taken in the Nagarhole and Bandipur reserves in India. Over the last two decades, his team have identified anywhere from 264 to 298 tigers by carefully comparing different images by eye and they found that the software program had a 95% success rate at identification of the animals.
But the program is not inly used for pictures taken by camera traps, it is also exploited to trace the origin of illegally sold tiger skins.