Mobile app helps anti-poaching efforts in Kenya’s wildlife conservancy

TAITA-TAVETA, KENYA - FEBRUARY 02: A ranger from the Kenya Wildlife Service calls for help after Salama, a female African Savannah elephant, needed to be pushed on her side after being tranquilized during an elephant collaring operation on February 2, 2018 in an area of ranches in Taita-Taveta County, Kenya. The operation run by the Kenya Wildlife Service, Save the Elephants, and the Tsavo Trust fitted 20 elephants with satellite radio collars that provide insight into elephant movement and space needs in the area. Nine out of 20 elephants collared had spear or arrow wounds, raising fears of human-elephant conflict in the region which has seen a large growth in infrastructure and human population. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A ranger from the Kenya Wildlife Service calls for help after Salama, a female African Savannah elephant, needed to be pushed on her side after being tranquilized during an elephant collaring operation in an area of ranches in Taita-Taveta County, Kenya.  (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

The LUMO Community Wildlife Conservancy, located in Taita-Taveta County in Southwest Kenya, is home to elephants, lions, buffaloes, antelopes, and also a core target of poachers.

To monitor and protect the conservancy, 16 community rangers worked through day and night.

The conservancy covers an area of 46,000 acres.

Monitoring of the conservancy is a labor-intensive process and rangers can cover up to 40 km per day in their patrols.

Ernest Righa, one of the 16 community rangers tasked with monitoring and protecting the conservancy from poachers, told Xinhua that through the use of the spatial monitoring and reporting tool (SMART) and Cyber Tracker mobile app, patrolling the expansive terrain is now much easier and more efficient.

The 36-year-old community ranger said that the work routine consists of conducting foot and vehicle patrols in order to protect the wildlife from poachers seeking ivory from elephants, bushmeat from the wild animals or charcoal from the vegetation in the conservancy.

“With the mobile app, we are able to know the exact areas that we have visited on a daily basis and so the other rangers can patrol the unvisited areas,” the father of four said.

During the patrols, the rangers record any sighting of wildlife on the mobile apps in order to track their movements. In this way, the mobile app also enables the rangers to know the exact location where wildlife is concentrated in the conservancy.

Another ranger, Domtillah Saru said that the mobile app has functionalities that enable capturing data of any human-wildlife conflict which may occur in the area. The technology prepared rangers for many challenges.

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has provided five conservancies with mobile apps in the Tsavo Mkomazi landscape, three in Kenya and two in Tanzania.