Embracing New Technology to Tackle Wildlife Crime | WWF

Embracing New Technology to Tackle Wildlife Crime

Posted on
16 May 2016
With the unprecedented increase in wildlife crime witnessed across the world, conservation agencies across the globe and specifically those in Africa are embracing a different approach that aims to incorporate the new technology to combat the vice. One of such technologies steered by WWF-Kenya is the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) a site-based approach to monitor, evaluate and improve the effectiveness of conservation management.
 
SMART focuses on ranger patrols and utilizes data on wildlife encounters, poaching encounters and other threats to biodiversity, collected by the rangers as part of their daily work routine. To enhance wildlife and law enforcement monitoring in the Maasai Mara Landscape in Kenya, training on SMART was conducted at Keekorook in Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) in December 2015.
 
“With this technology, site managers will now be able to know on a daily basis and based on quantified data which areas have been patrolled, are under threat and thus (re)-deploy his rangers accordingly,” affirms Martin Mulama, Rhino Programme Coordinator, WWF Kenya. 
 
The aim of the training was to create capacity on SMART functionalities with the rangers. Outcome of the training was remarkable, 22 participants are now equipped with skills to collect information in a systematic way using handheld devices and process it using SMART to: a) provide accurate information on status of key wildlife species; b) provide their respective protected area managers with timely and accurate information on where, how and by whom, threats are occurring and c) track progress of law enforcement efforts in addressing these threats.
 
Mulama adds that,  “This has made the rangers work much easier by simplifying the paper work involved as well as errors during transfer of data from field papers to computer.”
 
SMART is currently being piloted in MMNR. The reports emanating from SMART will be reviewed on a monthly basis to not only assist in planning of the patrols, but also improve on the SMART technology itself and make it more usable by front-line enforcement staff. Funding for this training, equipping the Maasai Mara watchers as well as setting up SMART in Maasai Mara National Reserve was provided through the WWF Sweden rhino grant.
 
The training was attended by participants drawn from Kenya Wildlife Service (3), WWF Greater Mekong (1-Trainer, Plate 1), WWF Kenya (8), WWF Cameroon (3), Maasai Mara National Reserve (2), Mara Triangle Conservancy (2) and Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancy Association (Scouts 4). 
 
The training took a modular base approach, consisting of 10 modules that were delivered in five days with the first 2 days dedicated to theory of SMART (Plate 2), the preceding 2 days for field data collection using smartphones installed with cyber tracker (Plate 3), downloading the same into SMART and generating reports (Plate 4). On the final day was dedicated to presentations and discussions on Law Enforcement Monitoring (LEM); Protected Area Threat Analysis (PATA); Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT); Protected Areas Enforcement Minimum Standards (PA-EMS); Conservation Oriented Patrol Standards (COPS); Law Enforcement Strategy (PA-LES) and Patrol Law Enforcement Assessment (PLEA).
 
Nelson Keshi, the Narok County Government CEC for Tourism & Wildlife who was accompanied by the Willy Loigero Chief Officer, Tourism & Wildlife presided over the training as the main guests was encouraged that WWF was bringing new technology in the Mara that will enhance the monitoring of wildlife, he was in full support of the training. 
 
 
 
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