CMS Components Kit
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In 2012—a year in which poachers killed at least 745 rhinos and 22,000 elephants in Africa alone—Google.org presented WWF with a $5 million Global Impact Award to “harness technological innovation to stop conservation crime.” This visionary investment launched the WCTP, through which WWF and our partners seek solutions to end the global wildlife poaching epidemic. This scourge is taking a dangerous toll on rangers, threatening the livelihoods of communities, damaging ecosystems, and emptying them of wildlife—all to feed an illegal wildlife trade valued at more than an estimated $10 billion each year.
We set out to create an umbrella of technology tools to support rangers in their anti-poaching efforts, with an initial focus on piloting the use and integration of three specific technologies in Namibia: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones), wildlife tracking tags, and SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool), a ranger patrol analysis software program. Following the conclusion of Phase 1 (October 2012-June 2014), it became clear that we needed to adapt our approach, since governments across Africa were banning the use of UAVs; cell coverage for tracking tags was poor in many of the continent’s poaching hotspots; and governments were resistant to adopting the SMART software system. We realized that we needed to rapidly pivot from a top-down technology-driven approach to a bottom-up problem-driven approach if we were to make a meaningful impact on the poaching crises.
Building on the learning from Phase 1, we embraced Google’s spirit of innovation and turned our focus to identifying technological solutions to several key challenges. First, because most poaching occurs at night, systems need to function in darkness. Second, since connectivity and real-time sharing of information and data was critical to success, we needed to explore other types of networks for our communications backbone. Third, harsh field conditions necessitated that we look beyond “off-the-shelf” technology, instead creating our own adapted solutions.
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Two specially trained dogs found seven surviving koalas amid a burnt-out forest in Queensland, Australia. Two months ago, a 14,826-acre fire tore through this area of forest.
Thanks to generous donations from WWF supporters around the world and the help of online furniture company koala.com, we have two English springer spaniels now searching for koalas in the burnt forest. Taz and Missy are trained to sniff out koala scat and find any nearby surviving koalas—a first and important step in the long-term recovery of the region. The dogs are more effective and faster at finding koalas than humans.
On their first morning at the Maryvale property in Queensland’s Southern Downs region, Olivia Woosnam, koala conservations ecologist and joint owner and operator of consultancy OWAD Environment, which conducts koala surveys, said Taz quickly located fresh koala scat and when they looked up, they found a mother and her joey sitting in a tree. Later that same day the team located another female and male koala. In total, seven koalas have been found in this location.
“Finding seven koalas alive amid the destruction in just two days is an encouraging start,” said Dr. Stuart Blanch, senior manager land clearing and restoration, WWF-Australia. “It’s great to see that some koalas are surviving the fires and they can recolonize the forest as it regrows.”
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