NC Zoo Partners in International Anti-Poaching ProjectPosted on 03/25/13
Asheboro, NC - The North Carolina Zoo has partnered with five world-renowned conservation organizations to launch a new, free software tool for wildlife managers designed to help stop poaching in nature preserves around the world.
The N.C. Zoo has joined the Congress on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Frankfurt (Germany) Zoological Society, New York's Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London to produce the Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool (SMART 1.0). According to a press release issued today by the WCS offices in New York, SMART 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.
The press release noted that the five member organizations "recognize 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."
SMART is not owned by any individual or organization and is free and available to the worldwide conservation community. The program can be downloaded at http://www.smartconservationsoftware.org.
SMART provides 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 was developed in 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 powerful foundation for sustainable, long-term growth and ensure widespread adoption, leading to consistent, comparable and effective datasets. The North Carolina Zoo, for example, has for many years conducted field conservation programs aimed at saving elephants in Cameroon, Africa, and the Cross River Gorilla, a highly endangered gorilla species found along the border of Cameroon and Nigeria in Africa.
"We at Kenya Wildlife Service (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," said Benson Okita-Ouma, KWS Senior Scientist - Rhino Program. "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."
The N.C. Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.