Scientists Are Using Virtual Reality to Help Conserve Jaguars

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Virtual reality is primed to change the entertainment industry, but the new technology could have an impact on science as well. As reported by Mashable, scientists from Australia are now finding ways to use VR to choose better habitats for jaguars in Peru. 

That was one of the objectives of a recent expedition led by Kerrie Mengersen of Queensland University of Technology's School of Mathematical Sciences. While visiting the Peruvian jungle, Mengersen and her team used GoPros to film 360-degree footage of various habitats. Along with mathematical and statistical modeling, the virtual reality experiences are intended to give scientists an immersive view of an environment without having to be there in person. This could prove useful when choosing sites for jaguar corridors, the large areas of land the cats use to travel between different parts of the jungle.

When viewing a habitat virtually, experts will be able to search for nearby water sources, signs of human life, or fruiting trees that could potentially attract prey. Having a better understanding of these factors could help conservationists make smarter decisions when buying land and building wildlife corridors. 

Jaguars are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, with only around 15,000 of them still alive in the wild today. Anyone can get a virtual look at the footage captured on Mengersen's expedition using Google Cardboard or a similar VR device.

[h/t Mashable]