By James Kariuki
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has installed Internet-based digital cameras for monitoring wildlife movement and driving the anti-poaching war within its 62,000 acre territory.
Lewa’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Mike Watson said they were thrilled with the new partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which makes the Lewa Conservancy a test site for the Technology for Conservation Programme through an i-phone enabled Instant Wild App.
The project will see digital pictures sent to various recipients via satellite thereby ensuring security is kept at its best round the clock.
Lewa becomes the first private facility in the country and the second after Tsavo National Game Reserve to install the camera traps that are for enforcement purposes where ZSL has partnered with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to fight poaching that threatens to wipe out Tsavo’s over 11,000 jumbos.
“This new and exciting partnership means that Lewa is one of the locations that has the camera traps are set up, giving our supporters across the globe the opportunity to follow live, intimate moments of the conservancy’s beautiful wildlife,” said Mr Watson.
He added that the Lewa cameras were active and all that was needed was just to download the App.
“Instant Wild is a unique and multifaceted ZSL initiative started as a citizen science tool enabling members of the public to instantly identify and comment on photographs taken by GSM-connected camera traps in the field through an interactive website and iPhone App,” said ZSL on its website.
The move is intended to help enhance security and take the anti-poaching war a notch higher after the government indefinitely put a halt to the planned launch of drones to secure wildlife sanctuaries.
The cameras, once erected at strategic locations, transmit live photographs of wildlife from advanced camera traps set up across the conservancy to area managers, conservation organisations and, where appropriate, members of the public.
“One can remotely observe and monitor trends in wildlife populations and identify the presence of critically endangered species to better prioritise conservation action and attention. It will help engage new audiences in conservation through participatory citizen science,” said Mr Watson.
The cameras once installed relay their images periodically via satellite to the base stations.
Lewa is currently raising funds for the establishment of an anti-poaching dog training unit that will see specialised dogs raised for use in tracking poachers, sniffing out ivory at ports.
It will also train assault dogs for distribution across Kenya’s wildlife sanctuaries and beyond.