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The stripes of a zebra are intended to confuse and thwart carnivores to help prevent them from singling one out and attacking members of a herd. The problem with the stripes for the ecologists attempting to study zebras is that they look very similar. The only way to identify and track an individual animal to learn its behavior is visually or by sifting through zebra dung to get genetic information.
A team of computer scientists has discovered a way to track and identify zebras and other striped animals from a simple conventional digital photo. The system is called Stripespotter and it looks at the image and compares it to other images in the database to identify individual animals.