Using SMART Technology to Stop Wildlife Poachers

May 23, 2013

In the battle against the illegal ivory trade that is decimating elephants, conservation groups are turning to technological solutions to better assist local security forces. WCS's Emma Stokes describes one: the free, open-source Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, or SMART—an innovative software application recently designed to help rangers curb wildlife trade.

One evening last June, wildlife rangers heard a burst of gunfire in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They followed the sound to a group of poachers attacking elephants for their ivory. When confronted, the poachers opened fire with an arsenal that included PKMs, AKs, G3s, and FNs. Outgunned, the rangers beat a hasty retreat.

The details may vary, but this basic scene takes place in elephant landscapes all across Africa and Asia today. Poachers in the illegal wildlife trade are heavily armed, technologically advanced, and increasingly prepared to put themselves at even greater risk as the potential financial rewards climb higher.

These developments have put conservationists on the front lines of an ever more challenging, dangerous, and resource-intensive battle.

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