A seminar on the new record-keeping and anti-poaching data analysis solutions offered by the SMART programme was recently held at Land of the Leopard. Attending the seminar were heads of security departments and state inspectors working at eight nature reserves and national parks in the Far East, where the programme has already been or is being implemented. The event was organised by the Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF Russia.
The list of seminar speakers included experts from protected areas that are already using this system successfully, such as the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve, the Lazovsky and Ussuri nature reserves, and Land of the Leopard, Anyuisky and Bikin national parks.
"The populations of the Far Eastern leopard and Amur tiger are growing, and the SMART system significantly contributes to the success in preserving these wild cats," said Viktor Bardyuk, director of Vorontsov Land of the Leopard National Park. "The southwestern part of the Primorye Territory was the first to launch this system in Russia, so it seems fitting that a seminar bringing together all the SMART system's partners in Russia is being held here. This programme has already proven to be beneficial, and has great potential for further development, which should be used to preserve our country's unique biodiversity."
The issue of switching to collecting data with the help of mobile phones was the key theme of this seminar. Earlier, inspectors had to use GPS trackers to work with the SMART programme; today, they can mark routes and write down their observations with the help of smartphones via a special GLONASS system application, which allows them to make entries about violations and animals. When users synchronise the application with the common database, this app automatically transfers the data to the appropriate sections.
"By bringing the role of the human factor down to a minimum, we have almost excluded the possibility of an error," said Sergei Bereznyuk, director at the Phoenix Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Our seminar is dedicated to obtaining and analysing this data, plus subsequently developing recommendations on the methodology of conducting raids."
The programme has recently been updated and now features a new expansion for the main animal count indicators. Now, apart from recording violations, inspectors can use the system to monitor animal tracks and get a full picture of the predators' and ungulates' distribution.
"The main advantage of this system is that despite it being easy to use, it is equipped with a range of powerful tools for automatic analysis and making reports using the data entered into the database with the help of modern information technologies in real time," said Alexei Kostyrya (PhD in Biology), senior coordinator of the rare species conservation unit at WWF Russia's Amur branch.
The SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) system was created for collecting and managing data obtained in the course of anti-poaching raids in tiger habitats. Introduced at the initiative of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Phoenix Fund back in 2010, this programme was first put into practice in Russia at the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, which is now part of Vorontsov Land of the Leopard National Park.