Kenya’s wildlife authorities have launched a free mobile app that allows users to track sightings of rare mammals to help authorities protect them.
The Mammal Atlas Kenya or Makenya allows any user who discovers a wild mammal to identify it and log its location.
Kenya is home to nearly 400 species of mammals, 22 of which are native to regions of Kenya, according to national figures. Authorities say it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect them as climate change and human activities affect their natural habitat.
Therefore, the National Museums of Kenya, the Mammal Committee of Nature Kenya and partners have developed the mobile app, which also offers the possibility to upload photos and details such as: B. the number of sighted mammals and their exact locations.
“You can also add the behavior,” said Dr. Simon Musila, a researcher at the National Museum of Kenya. “When you see this animal, what do you do? Take a rest? do they run away do they eat What are they doing the moment you see them?”
Musila said it’s important to engage the public through technology to help the country’s limited number of mammal specialists. Wildlife authorities said staffers would keep records of the animals’ changing environment and survival conditions.
There is a need to involve “a lot of people who can contribute a lot of data,” he said. “These are people like safari guides. These are people like students, tourists, people who go out and meet animals and are willing to submit data.”
Samson Onyuok uses the Makenya app. Users like him have reported more than 2,500 mammal sightings since the app launched in August.
“First, I think I’m proud to contribute to conservation initiatives in the country,” he said. “I think as a Kenyan this is my little opportunity to contribute to the conservation initiatives. So, yes, there is a fulfillment that comes with that.”
Experts say Africa’s contribution to climate change is minimal, but it is bearing the brunt of its consequences. dr Philip Muruthi, vice-president of the African Wildlife Foundation, told VOA that reproduction of the rare mammals and survival rate of the young are declining.
“It’s very difficult to use or manage something that you don’t know,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important. It will tell us what species we have, where they are and which ones might be endangered, what we need to do about them. And above all, not only the big things, but also the small things, like the bats.”
Wildlife officials say Kenya is home to at least a third of Africa’s mammal species and hope app users will step up efforts to protect them.