Baidu Announces New Steps to Safeguard Biodiversity Through Technology Solutions

BEIJING, April 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) today launched several biodiversity protection initiatives that will leverage the company's leading positions in online content, mobile, and AI to promote scientific knowledge about wildlife protection and fight against illegal online marketplaces for wildlife products.

Baidu has partnered with China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to disseminate authoritative information about biodiversity to netizens and promote sustainable lifestyles. Experts at these partner organizations have provided Baidu high-quality content about wildlife conservation, which Baidu is now using to optimize search results on its information-centered platforms, including Baidu App, Baidu Knows, Baidu Encyclopedia, and others. For example, in response to a search query about selling wildlife, Baidu will display an explanation of the relevant Chinese legal provisions that prohibit selling wildlife in most circumstances. On Baidu App, if a user searches what happens to elephants that lose their tusks, the top result will be a Baidu Knows entry from IFAW that explains the vital importance of tusks for elephants. On Baidu Knows, if a user asks "can I eat Chinese alligator?", the top result will be a response from NFGA explaining that the Chinese alligator is a first-class protected species in China and cannot be eaten. Baidu also launched the Earth Diversity Nature Archive (Earth DNA), an online library for scientific knowledge about wildlife protection, which will include content co-developed by Baidu and its partners.

By increasing access to authoritative information about biodiversity, Baidu's aim is for more users to make environmentally-friendly decisions. As the world's largest Chinese language search engine, and with an expansive mobile ecosystem of information and knowledge-centered platforms, Baidu is uniquely positioned to encourage netizens to adopt greener lifestyles and promote a more harmonious relationship between humans and nature. Due to the harmful impacts of humans on the environment, one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, according to a May 2019 report from the United Nations on the global state of biodiversity. As the human population and resource consumption continues to grow, safeguarding biodiversity will require concerted efforts from companies, governments, organizations, and individuals around the world.

In line with this vision, Baidu, CWCA, and IFAW launched an initiative calling on individual users and peer technology companies to contribute to wildlife protection. The initiative urges users to adhere to laws that protect wildlife, respect nature, and develop green consumption habits. It also calls on technology companies to co-operate to develop AI-powered applications that protect wildlife, and to eliminate illegal wildlife trade on their online platforms.

Baidu also launched the "AI Guardian of Endangered Species", an AI-powered tool to identify online images of products related to endangered wildlife, which will empower organizations to monitor and crack down on the illegal wildlife trade. Jointly developed by Baidu's open source deep learning platform PaddlePaddle and IFAW, the tool has obtained a 75% accuracy rate at recognizing images of products made from elephant ivory, pangolin scales and claws, and tiger teeth, skin, and claws. During a five month testing period, the tool recognized 3,348 images of illegal wildlife products that were being traded on Chinese internet platforms. In recent years, the illegal wildlife trade has shifted to online platforms, with sellers relying on images and other techniques to advertise their products while avoiding detection. Baidu will open source the tool's identification model on PaddlePaddle so that other developers can build AI applications for combatting the illegal wildlife trade.

Through these initiatives, Baidu hopes to safeguard biodiversity by delivering high-quality content to users, halting the illegal trade of wildlife online, and making the protection of wildlife a core business purpose, strengthening its existing commitment to biodiversity, according to a Baidu spokesperson.

The participation of technology companies in environmental governance is increasingly important because they can implement innovative, high-tech solutions at a global scale, said the IFAW China director, adding that environmental initiatives form a foundation for sustainable and successful business operations.

This past year, Baidu partnered with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to optimize search results about endangered species. Meanwhile, Baidu has cleaned up more than 260,000 damaging pieces of online information related to wildlife and blocked information promoting the illegal wildlife trade 1.4 million times. Moving forward, Baidu will continue to ensure that its technology is a force for safeguarding biodiversity.

About Baidu

Baidu, Inc. is a leading search engine, knowledge and information centered Internet platform and AI company. The Company's mission is to make the complicated world simpler through technology. Baidu's ADSs trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "BIDU". Currently, ten ADSs represent one Class A ordinary share.

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SOURCE Baidu, Inc.