Zimbabwe, Zambia

Kariba & Middle Zambezi

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High-tech tracking to help scouts

High-tech tracking to help scouts

Scouts working with high tech tracking device
Scouts working with high tech tracking device



By:  Eleanor Harvie

CAPTION : Bringing technology to the bush.  Scout training; learning to use this portable hand-held device will be an invaluable tool to conservation and those that protect the Zambezi heritage



Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) is using cutting-edge technology to gather information about what scouts encounter during patrols, to produce a comprehensive picture of what goes on ‘on the ground’ in the Lower Zambezi.


CLZ works closely with the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to support their fight against poaching and other illegal activities. The Park and adjacent area is home to threatened and endangered species including elephant, hippo, African wild dog, lion, leopard and Samango monkey.


CLZ, with other conservation organisations across Africa, has introduced SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) software, which monitors patrols to make them more effective through better information. The SMART system will enable CLZ to collate information by asking the right questions: not just where an incident is, but comprehensive details about type, age, evidence and methods.


The system uses Trimbles, a GPS device with a difference, which scouts will take with them on patrol. The technology also provides a platform for reporting all wildlife seen on patrol and takes away cumbersome reporting requirements. Each 10-day patrol equipped with GPS will be logged, to enable ZAWA and CLZ to monitor ground coverage and provide feedback to the scouts to improve their effectiveness.


CLZ has provided training for Zambia Wildlife Authority rangers, ecologists and technicians from Lower Zambezi and head office, as well as CLZ operations staff.  CLZ’s wildlife protection programme will be revolutionised with better information from the scouts in the field, greater monitoring of illegal activities and more detailed, easily produced reports.


Panthera, a conservation organisation dedicated to the conservation of wild cats, helped to introduce the new system, which is being rolled out across the continent. 


CLZ gathers a huge amount of information in its wildlife protection work and has over ten years of historic Zambia Wildlife Authority data in system. Data are incredibly important for conservation: through mapping patrols and illegal activity, CLZ and ZAWA are able see patterns of poaching and can direct patrols to address this.


SMART is an example of the cutting edge technology which is being developed around the world to keep up with the poachers, who themselves are using high-tech methods to target Africa’s precious wildlife.