discussion / Community Base  / 2 December 2015

wildtech.mongabay.com is a great resource

I just wanted to plug Monga Bay's WildTech area of their site. It's a great resource for information highly relevant to the topics in this forum. Just today there was a really insightful interview with Ian Douglas Hamilton from Save the Elephants in Kenya and his pragmantic views on technology and how it can help conservation.

Some highlights from the article:

  • We shared this ​[elephant GPS tracking] ​technology with Lewa Conservancy, who probably have the most advanced anti-poaching operation in Africa​..​. They love it.
  • Technology should just be an adjunct, a help. It should not be driving.
  • Can you see this system replicating anywhere else?     
  • The Elephants & Bees project is going well​... The fences successfully repel elephants 80 percent

Thanks for the link - yes, I agree Mongabay's WildTech areas is a great resource for anyone interested in keeping up to date with the latest conservation tech news. Sue Palminteri's article is facinating and is definitely worth a read. The video showing the daily movement of elephants is particularly interesting (see the screenshot below) - it was a case study Katherine Chou of Google.org spoke about in her Fuller Symposium address as well. That they're getting close to real time monitoring is very exciting - it would have been amazing to have that capacity in other projects I've been involved with. 

The key take-aways you highlight match a lot of what came up in the Fuller Symposium and other discussions about HWC. The consensus from Wired in the Wild - Can technology save the planet?   was that no, it cannot. It is simply a very useful tool that, when used appropriately, could have significant impacts in the challenges conservation is attempting to tackle. Numerous speakers drove home the point that technology is not and should not be the starting point; we need to be technology agnostic. We must start by understanding the challenge and then looking at what (if any) technology might help to address it given the circumstances. 

The Elephants and Bees approach is a great example of why we need to start with challenge rather than the technology. Sometimes the best solution is the low tech approach. Nilanga Jayasinghe highlighed this in her thought piece about HWC - giving a similar example of work WWF is doing in Nepal: 

'During a recent visit to Nepal, I visited rural villages where wild elephants often raid rice fields during harvest season. The communities had installed electric fences but this tool didn't always succeed on its own. Elephants are smart and persistent: they had learned to break the fence’s electric current, and then the fence itself, by using trees to push over the supporting stakes. To solve this problem, we worked with farmers to dig fish ponds in front of the fences as an additional obstacle. Adding an additional barrier not only made it harder for the elephants to get into the fields, it also gave the communities more time to respond and drive elephants away. This simple solution has not only reduced elephant raids, but has also improved local livelihoods from the sale of the fish grown in the ponds.'