Alina: Technology is key to effective conservation efforts

Dar es Salaam. There can be no tourism without conservation. Such an undeniable but often overlooked fact. When conversations and dialogues are held, the two – conservation and tourism – are generally discussed separately, but they are not mutually exclusive.

Founder and Technical Director of ConTech Africa, Ms. Alina Daati, shares how conservation efforts, coupled with the appropriate use of technological tools, have the potential to effectively manage nature and wildlife in Tanzania.

Alina, an expert in technology and conservation, found a path that led her to conservation technology. Having been exposed to nature and wildlife from a young age, Ms. Alina officially set foot in the nature industry through the Grumeti Fund.

The exposure Grumeti offered helped her begin to visualize how her technology skills and experience could come together to make her job much more effective. After a year with Grumeti, she continued her master’s studies at the African Leadership University (ALU) in Rwanda.

As part of his studies, he was tasked with putting together a final project that also had to be something that solved real-life problems. This presented an opportunity to bring his skills and passion together to create something sustainable.

This was the birthplace of ConTech Africa. With research help from nature and wildlife management experts, Ms Alina was able to identify problem areas and existing problems that technology can help solve.

After his studies, he returned to work at the Grumeti Fund, an organization actively involved in preserving 350,000 acres of previously neglected Serengeti wilderness through active conservation management, collaboration with local communities, technological innovations and the deployment of well-trained boots. on the floor.

“I am a technological person and I love machines. Either they work or they don’t. They don’t send you mixed signals, something I’ve always found easier to deal with,” she says.

“As a child, I took a few trips into nature and then discovered that very little was known about conservation, and as a technology enthusiast, it was even more evident that technology in conservation is a foreign concept,” she says.

“In 2017, a vacancy was announced in the conservation arm of the Grumeti Fund, they were looking for someone to manage an operating room and I had no idea what that meant. All I knew was that I had the technical knowledge, but I had no idea how my skills would be applied in conservation.”

She joined this role and began her career in conservation technology. “This is a very nuanced space and I have seen that the perceptions and points of view that many have had regarding conservation have been very limited,” she adds.

“The reality was that you would often find one person, for example an environmentalist, doing work on biodiversity, law enforcement and much more, which was often neither effective nor practical.”

“This put conservation work in a bubble and at that time, if someone had told me I would work in conservation in the future, I would have said no,” Alina shares.

When he finally began working in conservation, he realized that much of the work was very manual and required physical presence in nature.

“The fusion of these two seemingly opposing fields has created a level of efficiency, but as this is a very nuanced space and conservation looks different in different places, it was important to find the right tools,” explains Ms. Alina. .

The application of technology in conservation work determines how effective and successful efforts will be in a given region. “Sometimes stakeholders present a technological tool for conservation, but when tested in the field, it fails and therefore each tool must be subjective to the location of conservation activities,” he adds.

Furthermore, Ms. Alina states that the right tool alone is not enough; Skills and talent are required to sustain and keep tools running effectively to save costs that many organizations incur when hiring experts for frequent maintenance.

This is the gap that Alina has managed to solve with ConTech Africa. His company deals with capacity development in the area of ​​technological skills for conservation, as well as advice on suitable tools and their application in conservation work.

She is also an implementation partner for EarthRanger, a tool she works closely with in several countries in Africa, including Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon, Namibia and Mozambique.

EarthRanger is a real-time software solution that helps protected area managers, ecologists and wildlife biologists make more informed operational decisions for wildlife conservation. Collects, integrates and displays all available real-time and historical data for a protected area, including wildlife, ranger patrols, spatial data and observed threats.

“Many of the tools out there often work in isolation, so when an injury occurs, for example, the manager has to go from a tool that tracks the animal to another that locates the team on the ground to give them information. information, then move on to another that tracks the closest path between the ranger and the animal and transmit it to the team,” he shares.

This has sometimes proven to be ineffective because it consumes precious time that could otherwise be used to save this animal. “What EarthRanger has done is bring all of these tools together and, from my device, I can track the animals and provide real-time assistance to the team on the ground, with access to all previous critical data on any animal in the system. “

“With data from all sensors, mobile devices and field reports that I can view collectively in real time, I get a complete picture of all activity within a protected area and can collaborate or mobilize multiple team members and teams. from neighboring protected areas can also share data on tracked wildlife to activate joint patrol missions or incident responses,” explains Ms. Alina.

More data also leads to better analysis and key insights into significant trends, such as animal behavior, ecological changes, and more. This then informs patrol planning decisions and increases the effectiveness of incident and threat management efforts for patrolling, as well as planning and monitoring team progress.

“The nice thing about EarthRanger is that it can be customized to the different places you use it, so what you experience in the Serengeti of Tanzania is not the same as Zambia, Uganda or Cameroon,” he adds.

For Tanzania, conservation technology has many advantages. As well as providing crucial information for wildlife management and incident response, it can also play a proactive role.

Some of the benefits Alina points out are operational transparency, which will lead to greater accountability, ease of wildlife and park management, better tracking of animals for safety reasons, and a reduction in hunting incidents. furtive

Conservation, if done right, can offer a wide variety of tourism activities, such as enhanced safari experiences as a result of the thriving diversity of animal and plant life, photography, videography and even licensed hunting experiences. However, when not done well, cases of human encroachment on wilderness areas and other human-wildlife conflicts will continue to increase.

Technology, properly applied to the Tanzanian context, can help identify and enforce borders, to better manage these conflicts. “You cannot do tourism without conservation and both must always go hand in hand during any conversation. The important thing now is that we need an adaptation of effective tools to manage our ecosystems,” says Alina.

“About 40 percent or so of Tanzania’s landmass is protected and conserved and that’s a lot of ground to cover with ineffective methods.”

“I think if we can get to a point where we properly integrate this technology, our wildlife ecosystems will thrive,” Alina shares.

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