The Stimson Center, in partnership with local Kenyan authorities, Linköping University, Ihub, and other public and private sector partners around the world, will design a gold standard wildlife protection technological system to serve as a pilot project. The pilot project will take place in the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya's Tsavo West National Park and has been designed in close collaboration with rangers, officers, wardens, and Tsavo leadership. Ngulia spans 92 square kilometers, hosts about 10 percent of Kenya's black rhino population, and is encircled by the much larger Tsavo West National Park. The pilot will be conducted to demonstrate the positive impact that robust technological security and training systems can have on preventing poaching and will run over an initial two-year timeframe and in three phases.
In the first phase, per the request of the rangers, officers, wardens, and the senior leadership in Tsavo, pilot project partners will deploy a smartphone-based software platform that will serve as a first surveillance system. Rangers and officers will be the primary users of this platform that will serve as, inter alia, a tool for situational awareness throughout Ngulia. A team of trainers, monitors and evaluators will work closely with the Tsavo staff to fully understand the user experience and make adjustments as necessary to the platform and its functionalities. In the second phase, sensor systems will connect to that platform to provide perimeter control, intrusion detection, and wildlife monitoring. In the third phase, advanced network and radar technologies will be applied to provide an overview of a larger area and to detect large objects. Eventually, if appropriate, unmanned aerial systems (UAVs) will hover over the Ngulia perimeter providing video and thermal imaging for all day surveillance of wildlife, intruder detection, and rhino census.
Linköping University will lead the technical expert and research team and be responsible for management and supervision of technical development and system integration. Ihub will assist in developing the software platform with responsibility for design, user interaction, training, and support. Dr. Wafula Okumu will provide top-of-the line support and advice on African locally driven security capacity building, particularly as it pertains to border security. The African Wildlife Foundation will assist Stimson in scaling and replicating this pilot project beyond the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Stimson will work with other countries, multilateral organizations, peer NGOs, and private industry to scale and replicate this pilot project. Stimson will also seek to engage with other communities as the technical and training approach has applications in such diverse settings from agriculture to protection of critical infrastructures and national borders.
Ngulia was chosen following consultations with the Kenya Wildlife Service in Tsavo. The rangers in Ngulia have military training, but are in need of more sophisticated technology and training to successfully protect the wildlife. It is important that the technology and training capacity-building is not driven by the most sophisticated technology available, but by the needs and current status of the user, the rangers and officers on the ground. Stimson's plan, therefore, takes a bottom-up approach by focusing on the needs of the rangers, and Stimson will work closely with these rangers throughout the project period and subsequently will layer on additional technological and training capabilities as needed.
|Location||Kenya, West Africa|