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KWS rolls out Ranger-Based Information System
Date Published: 26 Jan, 2012
A KWS ranger reads the newly launched MIST manual that will guide them in data collection during patrols and enhance various management tools in wildlife conservation.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has rolled out a ranger-based Management Information System (MIST) programme that will be used by all KWS patrol teams
The system will enable a standardized routine collection and reporting of wildlife conservation status data for the country as a whole.
The data will be essential for decision making and planning as well as formulating effective strategies, policies and legislation that will enhance the conservation and management for the countries wildlife.
The data will further be used in the development of key national biodiversity indicators such as the trends and distribution of wildlife species, wildlife resources illegal activities and human wildlife conflict. This will greatly increase and improve the country’s reporting and effectiveness in relation to wildlife conservation.
Speaking during the launch of the ranger-based MIST system at the Rhino Base in Tsavo East National Park, KWS Director said the best approach of managing wildlife is through having a wide and robust efficient information system.
“KWS has set aside this year 2012, as the year of information,” Mr. Kipng’etich said.
He said in the next couple of year KWS will strive to make sure it has the most accurate wildlife conservation data based system in the world. He also said general information from that database system would be made accessible to the public.
Training on the use of the programme has already been undertaken within KWS and training among key wildlife conservation stakeholders is under way. Already, over 2000 rangers have so far already been trained.
Plans are underway to extend this training to different wildlife conservation and management stakeholders in the country by mid this year.
KWS this year has set aside Sh.100 million for training of its staff across various departments to increase the organisation’s capacity. This amount set to increase to Sh.120 million in the next financial year.
The Spatial Management Information System (MIST) is the software that captures wildlife monitoring, human wildlife conflict and security issues. MIST is a wildlife management based information system for protected areas and non-protected areas on routine data collection as well as planned patrols.
It involves the use of Global Positioning system (GPS) and standardised field datasheets that rangers take with them during regular patrols. The rangers then mark positions using GPS and record observations on the data sheet which are later downloaded into the MIST system.
The system is embedded in the Geographical Information System (GIS) software which makes it quick and easy to see the distribution and trends of issues being monitored. The MIST patrol data sheet will constantly be customised to reflect Kenya’s conservation needs.
Previously, KWS had employed various tools for information gathering that provided leads for improved wildlife management through reduction of perceived threats.
Some of these tools included the Monitoring of illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program in four core elephant sites, namely Tsavo/Mkomazi, Meru. Samburu-Laikipia and Mt. Elgon. The MIKE program generated important information on illegal killing of elephants for both national use and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
However, there was need to expand the information gathered to cover all wildlife species, their related conservation issues and all conservation areas in the country. This led to the adoption of MIST, which was initially piloted in Kenya in the conservation areas of Meru, Isiolo, Kiunga and Tsavo.
The adoption of MIST program began in 2007, when a team of KWS security and research staff visited the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to learn how MIST was being applied and thereafter spearheaded its operation in Kenya.
The biggest threats to wildlife conservation in Kenya are precipitated by poor and changing land use practices, habitat fragmentation and degradation, high human population growth, poverty, emerging illegal wildlife product markets and lack of awareness.
This in turn has driven individuals to engage in illegal activities that endanger wildlife including poaching and encroachment into wildlife protected areas. KWS has deployed rangers to protect wildlife in different areas of the country.
KWS also works closely with communities, private land owners and conservation NGO’s through a country wide network area of wildlife scout teams that routinely patrol their areas of jurisdiction and come across information that need to be captured effectively.