Since EarthRanger’s first deployment at Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in 2016, the online software solution developed by Vulcan Inc. has been helping protected area managers make informed, conservation-related operational decisions.
Now after three years, EarthRanger is working with over 100 sites across 30 countries, helping to protect over 650,000 square kilometers and monitor 50 species of endangered and threatened species and their habitats. Elephants, rhinos, snow leopards, pangolins, and invasive species are all being tracked by these 100 diverse sites, each with their own challenges in conservation, but all with the shared goal of protecting biodiversity.
EarthRanger was initially developed as an anti-poaching tool inspired by the results of the 2016 Great Elephant Census, the first pan-African census in over 40 years. The census results were sobering – Africa’s savanna elephant population plummeted 30 percent in just seven years. To reverse the trend, protected area managers and rangers needed support bridging the data gap, quickly integrating information they gathered in a central location.
“The thing we kept hearing was that even though they did not have enough data, they already felt overwhelmed by it,” Vulcan’s Ted Schmitt, a program manager on the Great Elephant Census and early lead on EarthRanger told Bloomberg. “There were all these little silos of data, but nothing to bring it into one picture to make use of it.”
EarthRanger was developed with scalability in mind, a one-stop data hub where protected area managers can monitor and make decisions in real-time. Protected areas are vast, in many cases tens of thousands of square kilometers. With EarthRanger, data from digital radios, animal collars, vehicle tracking, and sensors are centralized and visualized in one location, giving officials and rangers the ability to deploy their resources quickly and efficiently. If a snare is discovered or an elephant enters a human settlement, officials can direct the closest rangers to address the situation. Since its inception, Vulcan has connected with an increasing number of protected areas about how EarthRanger can benefit their teams. The steady growth in vastly different locations, from the North American prairie to the coast of Mozambique, shows how versatile EarthRanger can be for protected area managers. Each of the 100 sites are unique, but all have found EarthRanger to be useful in improving their daily work.