In a world where personal digital assistants are the hallmark of harassed executives in a high pressure business world, many people would be surprised to find illiterate trackers with a strong rural background making use of little hand held computers in the deep bush of the Kruger National Park.
Introduced first in 2000, with more units being purchased in 2003, the CyberTracker computer system with its integrated Global Positioning System has become an important tool for the rangers in all 22 management sections of the park.
Unfortunately, while not likely to be lost in an urban mugging, some of Kruger's CyberTracker units have been damaged during incidents with dangerous animals and due to normal wear and tear. The park is now looking for funds to replace the equipment. "This equipment has become such an integral part of management and research in the park that it would be devastating to conservation services if we could not replace the units."
A unit costs in the region of R5,720 and the park is hoping to buy 10 units in its first phase of renewing the equipment. "Any donations would be greatly appreciated by Kruger's field rangers, section rangers and managers." Using icons with English and Shangaan descriptions, data can be captured in the field and then downloaded into the park's central geographic information systems database.
In this way, rangers have collected information ranging from the area covered by routine patrols, poaching activities, the amount of water available at waterholes, fence line breakages, sightings of rare game, and fire mapping.
The rangers are also roped into scientific research programmes, recording on their CyberTracker units the distribution of alien invasive species, the location of beehives, the presence of archaeological remains, wild dog monitoring and many others. For more information or to make a donation contact Sandra MacFayden on 0137354378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.