Animal Conservation

Mobile app enables Kenyans to become actors in wildlife conservation

The National Museums of Kenya has launched an app to help the country’s wildlife authorities track and record rare and common mammals and record whether the species and their habitat are thriving.

At the Soysambu Conservancy in Nakuru, southern Kenya, tourists come to experience the rich biodiversity.

When camel safari owner John Perret pulls out his phone, it’s not just to take a picture.

He currently uses the Makenya app, Mammal Atlas Kenya, which allows users to record full details of any mammals they spot.

“This app is now helping us to really map where these animals are and if they have any problems we can ask the authorities to come and help us and it gives me a great opportunity to show tourists exactly where they are,” says the operator .

“It will be a continuous census and we will know if our animals are performing,” he also notes.

As well as benefiting tourism and those working for animal welfare, the free app can be a tool for raising awareness. Researcher Simon Musila wants the general public to seize this opportunity to have a positive impact on wildlife conservation.

“We also want to encourage the general public to get involved in mammal conservation and one of the main ways they can actually do that is whenever they see mammals wherever they submit a record, that way is one important ways for them to participate in mammal conservation,” he says.

Identify the best breeding conditions

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says about 25,000 species of animals and 7,000 species of plants have been recorded so far.

If making an inventory of species is important, collecting additional data to monitor the living conditions of animals is another objective of the application.

“This will also include recording breeding conditions specifically if you see an endangered species and you see it has young, which is quite encouraging as we will know that species will actually survive in the environment.” , said Musila.

“[…] This will be a game changer as it will also capture the type of habitat where this species is found,” the National Museums of Kenya researcher enthuses.

“If the habitat is in good condition, we know that endangered species will survive in that particular habitat for the long term.”

It is indeed essential to identify the conditions in which animals are still able to thrive or at least cope. The effects of drought in parts of Kenya are threatening species like rhinos.

The Mammal Committee of Nature Kenya, National Museums of Kenya and their collaborators created the app.