Animal-borne behaviour classification for sheep (Dohne Merino) and rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum and diceros bicornis)

Le Roux, Solomon Petrus ; Marias, Jacques ; Wolhuter, Riaan ; Niesler, Thomas (2017-11-21)

CITATION: Le Roux, S. P., et al. 2017. Animal-borne behaviour classification for sheep (Dohne Merino) and rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum and diceros bicornis). Animal Biotelemetry, 5:25, doi:10.1186/s40317-017-0140-0.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Background: The ability to study animal behaviour is important in many fields of science, including biology, behavioural ecology and conservation. Behavioural information is usually obtained by attaching an electronic tag to the animal and later retrieving it to download the measured data. We present an animal-borne behaviour classification system, which captures and automatically classifies three-dimensional accelerometer data in real time. All computations occur on specially designed biotelemetry tags while attached to the animal. This allows the probable behaviour to be transmitted continuously, thereby providing an enhanced level of detail and immediacy. Results: The performance of the animal-borne automatic behaviour classification system is presented for sheep and rhinoceros. For sheep, a classification accuracy of 82.40% is achieved among five behavioural classes (standing, walking, grazing, running and lying down). For rhinoceros, an accuracy of 96.10% is achieved among three behavioural classes (standing, walking and lying down). The estimated behaviour was established approximately every 5.3 s for sheep and 6.5 s for rhinoceros. Conclusions: We demonstrate that accurate on-animal real-time behaviour classification is possible by successful design, implementation and deployed on sheep and rhinoceros. Since the bandwidth required to transmit the behaviour class is lower than that which would be required to transmit the accelerometer measurements themselves, this system is better suited to low-power and error-prone data communication channels that may be expected in the animals habitat.

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