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World Wide Fund for Nature calls for more technology use to boost wildlife conservation

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The World-Wide Fund for Nature has called for more use of technology and digital innovations in a bid to carry out wildlife conservation in the country ahead of World Wildlife Day.

“Digital innovations facilitate streamlined awareness creation by providing new channels and tools for communication, education, and engagement. Platforms like websites, blogs, social media, VR, AR, mobile apps, webinars, and online courses contribute to educating the public about biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, and climate change impacts on wildlife populations,” said Simon Peter Weredwong, the Conservation Programs Manager at WWF.

“Digital innovations contribute to cost-effective monitoring of key wildlife species, real-time responses to human-wildlife conflicts, enhanced tourism, and easy conservation information exchange. Inclusiveness is promoted as everyone, regardless of location, can participate in conservation efforts,” he added.

He was addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala ahead of the World Wildlife Day to be celebrated in Kyenjojo district on March 3.

Weredwong said WWF has in the past focused on capacity building, knowledge exchange, and partnerships for digital innovation in wildlife conservation adding that in the coming years, they will install camera traps, and drones among others.

“These technologies have been key in monitoring glaciers in Mt. Rwenzori NP, identified many species (previously not seen in the area) an aspect that is critical for enhancing the tourism potential of the parks,” he said.

He called for strategic partnerships to facilitate the rolling out of digital innovations for conservation

“We equally urge the government to provide an enabling environment for rolling out innovation. Policy reforms such as data sharing protocols and incentives for digital innovations equipment shall be critical.”

The 2024 World Wildlife Day theme is “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation”.

He said digital innovations offer unique opportunities to redefine the connection between people and the planet.

“Exploiting the potential of technologies can lead our World to a sustainable future, establishing a harmonious relationship between the environment and its inhabitants,” Butime said.

“Digital technology has significantly transformed traditional wildlife conservation strategies. While we cope with human-induced conservation challenges, digital innovations such as drones, satellite tracking, DNA barcoding and social media have become critically relevant to the contemporary practice of wildlife conservation by improving our understanding of wildlife behavior, tracking illegal wildlife trade and trafficking, predicting biodiversity threats, and informing effective conservation strategies,” he added. 

He said this year’s World Wildlife Day celebrations will therefore focus on raising awareness about the application of digital technologies and interventions to promote wildlife conservation and management and sharing emerging positive impacts on ecosystems and livelihoods in Uganda.

“The celebrations will highlight new technological tools and related developments to complement Uganda’s efforts in safeguarding biodiversity and harnessing benefits from wild animals and plants. They will highlight key examples of digital innovations that have been used to enhance wildlife conservation efforts and, hence, could inspire practitioners to strengthen ongoing efforts to protect wildlife.”

According to the minister, this year’s celebrations will largely target the youths and leverage partnerships with other key stakeholders like schools, communities, civil society organizations, and political leaders to disseminate information on the use of technology in wildlife conservation and the need for enhanced collaboration.

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