Chiredzi — SECURITY at Gonarezhou National Park has been boosted by the use of new and innovative Spartial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) technology.
The innovation is used to fight wildlife poaching in the sanctuary which has 11 000 elephants and many other animal species.
Gonarezhou Area Manager Ovious Mpofu told the Lowveld Post the advent of technologies such as digital communication, The Global Positioning System (GPS) have enabled them to better protect the animals.
"An increase in the illegal selling of elephants horns has prompted the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) to collaborate with prominent conservation agents to introduce a holistic approach to more effective law enforcement at Gonarezhou," said Mpofu.
He also revealed that poaching was being combated through the use of monitored software called Data Analysis System (DAS) and SMART which enables the park's management to make informed decisions about future patrol strategies.
The software also helps to evaluate staff performance and determines trends in levels of threat to animals over time.
"The FZS has come up with the acronym SMART (Sparcial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) which helps rangers patrol, collect and analyse data effectively in countering wildlife crime," he said.
The collection of data helps to identify hotspots of poaching activities as well as rangers' movements on a map which improves their daily field work.
Mpofu also revealed that they have been using SMART since 2013 when they trained three of their rangers to use data input and basic analysis tools.
"Three rangers have been trained from the Scientific Services that assist with data quality control and further analysis," said Mpofu.
The Gonarezhou Area manager said the protection of elephants and their habitats is at the core of their conservation efforts.
In pursuit of that, they had resorted to satellite collaring of elephants to collect data and analyse the animal movements in their habitat.
"The aim of placing satellite collars on elephants near boundaries was primarily to attain a better understanding of their movements and the degree at which elephants are crossing out of the Park into the wider ecosystem," said Mpofu.
He also said the Partnership of Zimbabwe National Parks (ZIMPARKS) and Wildlife Management Authority and the Frankfurt Zoological Society has protected about 11 000 elephants in Gonarezhou.
The Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT) has also adopted radio for communication among rangers on patrol as well as reporting their movements using (DAS) management.