Saving Zebras with Predictive Analytics

UK-based conservation charity Marwell Wildlife has been using IBM's SPSS software for predictive analytics to improve its understanding of key issues surrounding the Grévy's zebra. The endangered species is currently found only in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia, with only 2,500 of the animals remaining in the wild.

Dr. Guy Parker, head of biodiversity management at Marwell Wildlife, tells CIO Insight that he used IBM’s predictive analytics software to study data collected in a recent survey of the local population in northern Kenya. The survey was conducted in collaboration with several other organizations, including the Grévy’s Zebra Trust, the Saint Louis Zoo, and the Denver Zoo. “It’s particularly good at teasing out patterns and relationships between different variables – and that’s exactly what we wanted to,” he says.

For example, Parker says, the software helped determine the factors that drive the local population’s attitudes towards wildlife. “We used SPSS to predict what influences people’s attitudes, whether that was education level, people’s age, what their tribal background is, whether they’d had contact with conservation before, whether they got benefits from wildlife – a whole range of different things,” he says.

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