Cloudy with a Chance of Poaching: Adversary Behavior Modeling and Forecasting with Real-World Poaching Data


Debarun Kar, Benjamin Ford, Shahrzad Gholami, Fei Fang, Andrew Plumptre, Milind Tambe, Margaret Driciru, Fred Wanyama, and Aggrey Rwetsiba. 2017. “Cloudy with a Chance of Poaching: Adversary Behavior Modeling and Forecasting with Real-World Poaching Data.” In International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS).


Wildlife conservation organizations task rangers to deter and capture wildlife poachers. Since rangers are responsible for patrolling vast areas, adversary behavior modeling can help more effectively direct future patrols. In this innovative application track paper, we present an adversary behavior modeling system, INTERCEPT (INTERpretable Classification Ensemble to Protect Threatened species), and provide the most extensive evaluation in the AI literature of one of the largest poaching datasets from Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) in Uganda, comparing INTERCEPT with its competitors; we also present results from a month-long test of INTERCEPT in the field. We present three major contributions. First, we present a paradigm shift in modeling and forecasting wildlife poacher behavior. Some of the latest work in the AI literature (and in Conservation) has relied on models similar to the Quantal Response model from Behavioral Game Theory for poacher behavior prediction. In contrast, INTERCEPT presents a behavior model based on an ensemble of decision trees (i) that more effectively predicts poacher attacks and (ii) that is more effectively interpretable and verifiable. We augment this model to account for spatial correlations and construct an ensemble of the best models, significantly improving performance. Second, we conduct an extensive evaluation on the QENP dataset, comparing 41 models in prediction performance over two years. Third, we present the results of deploying INTERCEPT for a one-month field test in QENP - a first for adversary behavior modeling applications in this domain. This field test has led to finding a poached elephant and more than a dozen snares (including a roll of elephant snares) before they were deployed, potentially saving the lives of multiple animals - including endangered elephants.
See also: Conservation, 2017
Last updated on 07/26/2021