Status/ ongoing

Client: MIT Media Lab and Wildlife Works

This is a joint project between iHub, MIT Media Lab and Wildlife Works‘ local project in the corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks.

Last year the iHub hosted the MIT Media Lab for their off-site visit to Kenya. During this period, we managed to make a joint trip to Wildlife Works offices — located in the crucial migratory corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West. Our aim then was to establish what problems technology such as sensors and various software could help solve out in the poaching-affected area. We learnt a lot on this fact-finding mission — for example, the area to be covered spans 14 large ranches, so sensors may not be as feasible as we initially thought.

We eventually settled on creating an app that would ease the data collection processes currently used by Wildlife Works rangers and embarked on developing a prototype late 2014. We have since organized multiple field trips to get more information from the intended end-users of the app: the Wildlife Works rangers and research team.

During the first field trip the aim was to

  • Identify potential issues such a solution might face - connectivity, backup, hardware challenges
  • Interact face-to-face with the rangers and get their buy-in

We brainstormed with the rangers on how to build an app that would make their work easier and lead to better data collection.

The solution was then refined after which a follow-up trip to Tsavo was made. Part of the main point of this visit was to see the app being used in the field. We concluded that the best way to do that would be to join the rangers on their patrols, starting out in a car then later, walking through the bushes for a foot patrol.

While there is an obvious need for improvement, it was incredible for us to share this technology with people who need it. We have taken our lessons and new found knowledge and are working tirelessly to deliver an improved solution. Our motivation is the rangers and research team — their excited undertones, wide grins, amused chuckles and shared sentiments on the usefulness of what we are building — gives us hope that our efforts are not in vain.