Hardshell is running a sting. We’re combining 3D printing, cutting edge mechanical engineering and knowledge of raven behavior to create a device, the Techno-tortoise, that will allow us to observe raven predation close up and, thereafter, to deliver stark lessons to them about the inadvisability of eating baby tortoises. This is aversion training, an effort to form a negative opinion of a former food source in the mind of a predator. Key to the effort is to make the models indistinguishable from the real thing. Our friends at Autodesk are helping us with a new program called ReMake and our friends at Think To Thing are printing the models out in full color. The results, as you can see, are startling. Phase One was to deploy the models in the field with motion capture cameras to see whether or not we could attract ravens and learn about their approach to killing small tortoises.
Good news! We have achieved spectacular success in the endeavor, capturing dozens of videos of ravens assessing and attacking the models. These are fascinating records, a rich trove of information for us to use in Phase Two, the effort to, shall we say, greatly increase the educational power of the devices. For now we are plowing through the material we gathered this spring and analyzing it for clues as to how best to rig the Techno-tortoises as teaching tools. I have to say that there is something deeply satisfying about tricking a Trickster, running a sting operation for the good of tortoise-kind. Stay tuned to this one- it is going to be fascinating!