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201323Mar15:37

Con­ser­va­tion­ists unite to unleash pub­lic tool to stop poaching

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 23 March 2013 | mod­i­fied 08 March 2014
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Smart toolA com­mu­nity of con­ser­va­tion organ­i­sa­tions announced on March 21 a free soft­ware tool for wildlife man­agers specif­i­cally designed to stop poach­ing.

Spa­tial Mon­i­tor­ing And Report­ing Tool (SMART 1.0) is a ground-​breaking and inno­v­a­tive man­age­ment tool designed to assist rangers on the ground to stop poach­ers in their tracks and curb the ille­gal trade of wildlife. SMART isn’t owned by any one indi­vid­ual or organ­i­sa­tion; it’s free and avail­able to the whole con­ser­va­tion community.

[SMART is] a free, prac­ti­cal tool in local lan­guages that doesn’t require tech­ni­cal knowl­edge to use and is already hav­ing demon­stra­ble results in improv­ing con­ser­va­tion effec­tive­ness, effi­ciency and the morale of those who need sup­port the most
« Joe Wal­ston, WCS Exec­u­tive Direc­tor for Asia programs

SMART is a new set of community-​owned open-​source soft­ware tools that mea­sure, eval­u­ate, and improve the effec­tive­ness of wildlife law enforce­ment patrols and site-​based con­ser­va­tion activ­i­ties. Its com­bi­na­tion of soft­ware, train­ing mate­ri­als, and imple­men­ta­tion stan­dards pro­vides pro­tected area author­i­ties and com­mu­nity groups with the abil­ity to empower staff, boost moti­va­tion, increase effi­ciency, and pro­mote cred­i­ble and trans­par­ent mon­i­tor­ing of the effec­tive­ness of anti-​poaching efforts.

SMART is a part­ner­ship of con­ser­va­tion organ­i­sa­tions includ­ing CITES-​MIKE, the Frank­furt Zoo­log­i­cal Soci­ety (FZS), the North Car­olina Zoo (NCZ), Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety (WCS), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoo­log­i­cal Soci­ety of Lon­don (ZSL). These organ­i­sa­tions recog­nised the day-​to-​day dif­fi­cul­ties faced by many con­ser­va­tion man­agers across the world: oper­at­ing on thinly stretched resources in the face of esca­lat­ing threats to biodiversity.

The groups devel­oped SMART in response to the recog­ni­tion that tra­di­tional approaches, tech­nolo­gies, and resources are not stem­ming the ille­gal killing and trad­ing of endan­gered species — such as tigers, rhi­nos, ele­phants, great apes, and marine tur­tles — and the result­ing loss of threat­ened and highly val­ued bio­di­ver­sity. A crit­i­cal issue is the grow­ing gap between the sophis­ti­ca­tion of those involved in the ille­gal cap­ture and trade in wildlife, and the num­ber, skill lev­els, and moti­va­tion of the per­son­nel com­mit­ted to enforc­ing anti-​poaching laws.

Apart from devel­op­ing the soft­ware and train­ing com­po­nents of SMART, the part­ner­ship mem­bers intend to pro­mote it across their project areas around the world. This will pro­vide SMART with a very pow­er­ful foun­da­tion for sus­tain­able, long-​term growth and ensure wide­spread adop­tion, lead­ing to con­sis­tent, com­pa­ra­ble and effec­tive datasets.

Ben­son Okita-​Ouma, Kenya Wildlife Ser­vice Senior Sci­en­tist — Rhino Pro­gram, said: “We at KWS are eager to imple­ment SMART across our pro­tected areas as we clearly see the huge poten­tial it has in help­ing our man­agers bet­ter mon­i­tor and eval­u­ate law enforce­ment efforts. The SMART tool and frame­work will help our staff to make bet­ter informed deci­sions for pro­tect­ing and man­ag­ing our rich bio­di­ver­sity par­tic­u­larly at a time of increas­ing poach­ing pres­sure.”

Joe Wal­ston, WCS Exec­u­tive Direc­tor for Asia pro­grams, said: “SMART is a tool designed for the men and women work­ing at the front line of wildlife pro­tec­tion. It’s a free, prac­ti­cal tool in local lan­guages that doesn’t require tech­ni­cal knowl­edge to use and is already hav­ing demon­stra­ble results in improv­ing con­ser­va­tion effec­tive­ness, effi­ciency and the morale of those who need sup­port the most.“

ZSL’s Direc­tor of Con­ser­va­tion Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Bail­lie says: “We must dras­ti­cally scale up the con­ser­va­tion response if we are to effec­tively stem grow­ing ille­gal trade in wildlife. SMART, com­bined with new tech­nol­ogy for mon­i­tor­ing and sur­veil­lance, will truly change the game on the ground, help­ing keep the pro­tected area man­agers a step ahead.”

Bar­ney Long, WWF’s Asian Species Expert, said: “The launch of SMART could not come at a bet­ter time as 177 nations gather in Thai­land at the CITES last week to make deci­sions aimed at stop­ping the ille­gal trade of wildlife. This vital tool will help the eco-​guards on the front­lines of con­ser­va­tion get out ahead of the poach­ers and pro­tect the most iconic species on our planet. With­out SMART, the poach­ers will remain more sophis­ti­cated, which we can­not let hap­pen.”

A regional SMART con­ser­va­tion soft­ware work­shop just con­cluded in Indone­sia involv­ing par­tic­i­pants from eight ele­phant range states around Asia includ­ing Thai­land, China, and Malaysia — nations which have been given notice to pro­duce action plans for ivory trade fol­low­ing CITES.



(Source: WCS press release, 21.03.2013)

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Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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