Wildlife Monitoring across East Africa
Today, wildlife across the biodiverse East Africa region face significant threats to their existence than ever before. These threats range from extreme weather events like rising water levels brought on by climate change to the detrimental consequences of human-wildlife conflict, wildlife crime and poaching. As ecosystems continue to change, impacting wildlife behavioural patterns and human activity clashes with the natural order of species, wildlife monitoring becomes critical to protect and preserve our wildlife.
Conservation Technology Solutions
As a diversity of factors continue to threaten vulnerable wildlife across East Africa's landscapes, conservationists and technologists have developed, refined and adopted a variety of technologies and tools to better observe, track and understand wildlife and their changing environments. These range from GPS trackers, remote sensing and GIS tools, satellite earth observation technologies, camera traps, mobile technology, sensors and even drones. By studying spatial and movement ecology, tracking behavioural and migratory patterns of vulnerable species and mapping out ecosystem boundaries, conservationists are equipped to manage protected areas and better prepared to conserve wildlife in an ever changing natural world. Here are a few great examples from across the region!
Outstanding East African Solutions
1. GPS Trackers
The Twiga Tracker Initiative by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation: The Twiga Tracker Initiative is the largest GPS satellite tracking study ever conducted on giraffe aimed at understanding the spatial ecology of giraffe species in Africa. Tracking devices are crafted to fit all giraffe species specifications and are small, powered by solar and connect with satellite networks to relay giraffe location information to internet connected devices. Through better understanding giraffe movements, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is able to craft effective and innovative conservation strategies to protect and preserve giraffe and their accompanying ecosystems across Africa. Watch our episode of Tech Tutors: East Africa, where Arthur Muneza, the GCF East Africa Coordinator answered the question 'How do I fit GPS satellite tags to remotely monitor giraffes?'
2. Earth Observation & Satellite Technology
Satellite Data for Wildlife Protection availed through Digital Earth Africa: Digital Earth Africa provides the platform to translate earth observations, tracking ecosystem changes across the African continent in unprecedented detail into insights that will support sustainable development. Communities such as those at Lake Baringo have been using DE Africa earth observation data to support their effort to rehome endangered giraffes due to raising lake levels. Satellite technology is helping conservancies in better preparedness to protect biodiversity against the impacts of climate change seen through extreme weather patterns.
3. LoRaWAN Technology
Akagera National Park in Rwanda, World's 1st Smart Park: LoRaWan technology connected at the Akagera National Park which serves as the world's first smart park forms a private network infrastructure connecting all activities across the entire park, monitoring wildlife and park rangers, vehicles and other devices to prevent wildlife crime, poaching and human-wildlife conflict. The telecommunications monitoring infrastructure includes networks, satellites, sensors, wireless systems and cameras that offer a real-time, data-driven approach to ecosystem protection.
4. GIS & Geospatial Technology
GIS Technology, Terra Charts and Landscape Dynamics Database by Mara Elephant Project (MEP): The growing human footprint has disrupted elephant traditional corridors and affected their movement patterns across the Mara. Elephants now use only 17% of their geographic range due to the expanding human footprint across their ecosystems. Using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Wildlife Research and Training Institute are able to monitor elephant movement patterns, identify corridors, habitat preferences and prevent human-wildlife conflict incidences. Additionally, by pairing GIS data with data collection apps like Terra Chart and spatial Landscape Dynamics Database, conservationists are able to make effective decisions to protect and preserve elephants.
Africa's Largest IoT Conservation Network in Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Kenya: Resources brought together from the Connected Conservation Foundation (CCF), Cisco, Actility and Dimension Data, EarthRanger (AI2) and 51 Degrees have supported NRT's IoT innovation. This IoT network and high-bandwidth communication infrastructure covers 22 of NRT’s community-led conservancies and four private reserves, (Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ol Jogi, Loisaba and Borana). This large-scale digital infrastructure enables effective protected area management, ensuring these large landscapes are protecting threatened species, providing vital ecosystem services and enriching local communities.
Are you using technology to monitor wildlife across East Africa? We want to hear from you. Let us know down in the comments what monitoring challenges you are facing, which technologies you have adopted and how is it working out. Looking forward to learning about your innovative journeys.