The simple idea that a small patch of black and white lines could identify an item has revolutionised the way that we shop since barcodes were first used to sell a packet of chewing gum in 1974.

 

Now scientists from Princeton University hope that the same idea could transform conservation, after they developed a way to read “nature’s barcodes” from the flanks of endangered zebras.

 

Researchers in Kenya persuaded more than 350 volunteers, including traditional wildlife rangers, tribal warriors and members of the public, to take more than 40,000 digital photographs of grévy’s zebras, which are larger than their common…