By Laura Candler
The North Carolina Zoo has partnered with five other leading conservation organizations from around the world to launch a new software tool aimed at curbing poaching in nature preserves.
The software is called Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool (SMART 1.0), and it is intended to assist park rangers and wildlife managers by helping them measure and evaluate the effectiveness of their anti-poaching efforts. Poaching is a major threat to several endangered species, including tigers, rhinos, elephants, great apes, and marine turtles. Traditional methods of combating poaching are not making a dent in the illegal practice, and there is a growing gap between the sophistication of poachers and the skill level of the law enforcement patrols trying to stop them. SMART is open-source and free for any organization or individual to download.
Other partners in the effort to launch SMART are the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, the Zoological Society of London, the Congress on International Trade in Endangered Species, and Germany’s Frankfurt Zoological Society. The partnership members plan to promote the software in their respective areas of concern around the world, in hopes that it can make a difference. Areas of concern for the North Carolina Zoo include parts of Cameroon and Nigeria, where the Zoo conducts field conservation programs targeting elephants and the highly endangered Cross River Gorilla.