This week we have been training Protection and Ecology staff of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park in use of QGIS, in collaboration with the Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre and GIS fundi Nick McWilliam (of Map Action and Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge). Quantum GIS (QGIS) is open source, completely free, high quality GIS software and therefore a great option for Tanzanian Protected Area managers and researchers to manage their spatial data, and make the maps that they need for their work. Special thanks to the US Fish and Wildlife Service African Elephant Fund for supporting this training.
Hi all, and Happy New Year; we hope you’ve had a relaxing break. After a showing of BBC’s Frozen Planet and some dancing on Saturday night, we have been straight back into it, facilitating a training workshop yesterday for the 30+ rangers of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park who were around for the new year. For those of you not familiar with MIKE – Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants – it is a CITES-managed, Africa and Asia-wide programme for monitoring trends in elephant populations and illegal killing. There are 51 MIKE sites across 28 countries in Africa. Of the four designated MIKE sites in Tanzania, the Udzungwa Mountains are part of the largest site, the ‘Selous-Mikumi-Udzungwa ecosystem’ (the others being Tarangire, Ruaha-Rungwa and Katavi-Rukwa).
At the request of the Protection Department of Udzungwa Mountains National Park, the Udzungwa Elephant Project is helping with training so that the Udzungwa sector of the site can fully participate in contributing all the different types of MIKE data to the central database. All of these data are assessed to look at which populations are suffering the most serious declines, and to try to identify the most important factors driving the killing of elephants. While it has become clear over the last three years that elephants are facing a new crisis of poaching for their tusks across much of Africa, the quantity and quality of data being contributed to the database from around the continent provide a major challenge for the MIKE programme.
Udzungwa Park rangers, MIKE training workshop, Mang'ula, 2nd January 2012
Yesterday’s workshop was specifically for the rangers, to introduce MIKE and ensure data are collected correctly in the field when on patrol using standard MIKE field forms. We used an example provided by Save The Elephants from Laikipia-Samburu. Feedback was good, including from senior wardens, and we are continuing to work closely with both the Park Protection Wardens and the rangers, to help with protection of elephants in whatever ways we can. Next on the agenda will be a GPS workshop for the rangers who need an introduction or re-fresher in the use of GPS hand-held units.
Many thanks to the US Fish and Wildlife African Elephant Program for supporting this work, and to the Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre for hosting this first of a series of workshops.
- Our bungalow at UEMC
The Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre (UEMC) – which acts as our base – was established as a research facility in 2006 by our long-time collaborator Dr. Francesco Rovero of Trento Museum of Natural Sciences, together with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA). UEMC’s research community is growing each year. UEMC’s current manager Arafat Mtui has been generous in contributing help and advice to our project on Udzungwa elephants. For a list of research taking place in the region, please see Monitoring, Data, and Research.