Posted on 12 August 2020
WWF Zimbabwe in partnership with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority is implementing and upgrading an automated digital surveillance system in Hwange main camp and other subcamps for effective crime detection, strategic deployments and improved reaction time.
With the current global health pandemic Covid-19 having brought tourism to a halt, the probability for illegal trade in wildlife and its products is high.
At 1,4million hectares Hwange National Park is the largest park in Zimbabwe. It is home to the second largest elephant population in the Kavango Zambezi Transfontier Conservation Area with an estimated population of 45 000 elephants which is twice its ecological carrying capacity . The area is therefore a major faunal reservoir for the whole of KAZA and an important source area for the elephant population to Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) and CyberTracker system integrates data from ranger patrols, analyses local poaching trends while tracking performance in law enforcement, as a measure to effectively control illegal wildlife crime. With GPS-enabled camera traps, instant photo messaging from strategic points such as watering holes are transmitted to the call centre for rapid reaction should any suspicious movements be detected.
A proactive move towards a total smart park solution for improved surveillance is one of the key steps towards an integrated antipoaching strategy .
Hwange National Park forms a crucial part of two major KAZA Wildlife corridors embedded in two Wildlife Dispersal Areas (WDA) of Hwange-Kazuma-Chobe Wildlife Dispersal Area; and, Hwange-Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pan Wildlife Dispersal Area .
The Digital radio network allows rangers to communicate securely over long distances, coordinate with the main camp, and respond faster to poaching incidents and illegal park entries.