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Conservationists get SMART with poachers

New York (March 21, 2013) A community of conservation organizations announced today a free software tool for wildlife managers specifically designed to stop poaching.

Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool (SMART 1.0) 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. SMART isn't owned by any one individual or organization; it's free and available to the whole conservation community.

SMART is 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 is a partnership of conservation organizations including CITES-MIKE, the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), the North Carolina Zoo (NCZ), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). These organizations recognized 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.

The groups developed SMART in response to the 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 very powerful foundation for sustainable, long-term growth and ensure widespread adoption, leading to consistent, comparable and effective datasets.

Benson Okita-Ouma, Kenya Wildlife Service Senior Scientist Rhino Program, said: "We at 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. 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."

Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director for Asia programs, said: "SMART is a tool designed for the men and women working at the front line of wildlife protection. It's a free, practical tool in local languages that doesn't require technical knowledge to use and is already having demonstrable results in improving conservation effectiveness, efficiency and the morale of those who need support the most."

ZSL's Director of Conservation Professor Jonathan Baillie says: "We must drastically scale up the conservation response if we are to effectively stem growing illegal trade in wildlife. SMART, combined with new technology for monitoring and surveillance, will truly change the game on the ground, helping keep the protected area managers a step ahead."

Barney Long, WWF's Asian Species Expert, said: "The launch of SMART could not come at a better time as 177 nations gather in Thailand at the CITES last week to make decisions aimed at stopping the illegal trade of wildlife. This vital tool will help the eco-guards on the frontlines of conservation get out ahead of the poachers and protect the most iconic species on our planet. Without SMART, the poachers will remain more sophisticated, which we cannot let happen."

A regional SMART conservation software workshop just concluded in Indonesia involving participants from eight elephant range states around Asia including Thailand, China, and Malaysia - nations which have been given notice to produce action plans for ivory trade following CITES.


Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

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