Kenya App Allows Users to Help Track Rare Mammals


Kenya’s wildlife authorities have launched a free mobile app that allows users to track sightings of rare mammals to help authorities protect them.

Mammal Atlas Kenya, or Makenya, allows any user who discovers a wild mammal to identify it and register the location.

Kenya is home to nearly 400 species of mammals, 22 of which are from regions of Kenya, according to national figures. Authorities say their protection is becoming increasingly difficult, as climate change and human activities are negatively impacting their natural habitats.

So the National Museums of Kenya, the Mammal Commission of Kenya and their partners have designed the mobile app, which also provides a way to upload images and details, such as the number of mammals seen and their exact locations.

“You can also add behavior,” said Dr Simon Musila, a researcher at Kenya’s National Museums. “When you see this animal, what do they do? Do they rest? Do they run away? Do they eat? What do they do the moment you see them?”

Musila said it’s important to engage the public by using technology to help the country’s limited number of mammal specialists. Wildlife authorities said staff would keep records of the animals’ changing environment and their survival conditions.

He said there was a need to “bring in many people who can contribute a lot of data”. “These are people like safari guides. These are people like students, tourists, people who go out and come across animals and will be willing to provide data.”

Samson Onyuok uses Makenya app. Users like him have reported seeing more than 2,500 mammals since the app was launched in August.

“First of all, I think I am proud to contribute to the country’s conservation initiatives,” he said. “I think as a Kenny, this is my little way of contributing to conservation initiatives. So, yeah, there’s an investigation that comes with that.”

Experts say Africa contributes little to climate change but bears the brunt of its consequences. Dr. Philip Murthy, vice president of the African Wildlife Foundation, told VOA that the reproduction of the rare mammals and the survival rate of their young are declining.

“It’s very difficult to take advantage or manage what you don’t know,” he said. “That’s why this is so important. It will tell us which species we have, where they are, and possibly which species are highly endangered, and what we need to do about them. Especially not only the big things but also the little things, like bats.”

Wildlife officials say Kenya is home to at least a third of Africa’s mammal species and they hope users of the app will step up efforts to protect it.


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