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Getting SMART at Loisaba

4-Getting-SMART-at-Loisaba

The Rangers at Loisaba Conservancy in Kenya, which conduct over 2,000 patrols each year, walking an average 1,803km/1,100 miles a month and recording 6,026 different wildlife sightings and collecting data on threats, like poachers' snares. How do we know this? Because of the SMART system that was launched last year with the Zoological Society of London. Analysis of data by Chege Amos, Loisaba's Conservation Officer supported by Space for Giants, has shown some fascinating trends, and allowed ranger patrols to be fine-tuned to be even more effective. SMART allows a continuous flow of information from the rangers on the ground to Loisaba’s management, so that effective conservation decisions based on real science can be made.

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Managing a conservancy as vast and diverse as Loisaba in a challenging landscape with limited resources can be a challenge. To do this effectively we have to be ‘Smart’ – literally. SMART stands for Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, which is a specifically developed protected area management tool designed to measure, evaluate and improve the overall effectiveness of law enforcement patrols. In doing so protected area managers, such as Loisaba Conservancy CEO Tom Silvester are provided with the necessary information to make adaptive management decisions.

Loisaba Conservancy started the SMART journey with assistance from Space for Giants and the Zoological Society of London. Amos trains rangers in the use of a simple mobile phone App called Cybertracker, which is essentially the data collection vehicle for SMART. Today, every patrol group on the conservancy is hard at work collecting critical information on wildlife sightings and potential threats (e.g. snares and/or poaching) to wildlife. The phones that the rangers use are GPS enabled thereby making it possible to gather real time data from the patrol teams (e.g. distance patrolled, hours patrolled etc.) where they recorded sightings and threat and possibly most importantly, what the blind spots are on the conservancy.

Every week, Loisaba’s Conservation Officer visits each patrol base and downloads the data onto a computer. Together with input from the Space for Giants team a weekly report is created giving management a spatial view of what is happening on the conservancy and this is then discussed by the Senior to take appropriate action. SMART is proving to be a ‘game-changer’ and is going to help Loisaba develop into one of the leading conservancies in the landscape.

All profits generated by tourism activities at Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp and Elewana Star Beds are dedicated to the conservation of the 56,000-acre private wilderness area, known as Loisaba Conservancy. We encourage our guests to visit the Conservation Centre to learn about the various projects that are ongoing and vital to the success of this area.