The SANParks' CyberTracker will be operational in most national parks by the end of 2008. Collective fund raising initiatives throughout 2007 and 2008 have enabled SANParks to purchase new Airis T620 pocket PC and GPS, Wifi and BTs for the Augrabies, Kalahari, Mokala, Namaqua and Richtersveld; Tankwa Karoo; Golden Gate, Mapungubwe and Marakele National Parks.
These devices are used to collect field information for effective environmental management and research. CyberTracker software is customised for each national park to facilitate park-specific monitoring, e.g. important field observations in Mapungubwe might include aardvark and cultural sites while Kruger's may contain elephants and baobabs. "We were further able to support our local communities by asking community craft programmes to design and make protective canvas cases for the fragile devices,"' says Sandra Mac Fadyen, Geographical Information Systems/Remote Sensing (GIS/RS analyst at Kruger. "The bulk of the funds were generously sponsored by the Richtersveld Poverty Relief Unit (R17 000), Unitrans (R25 000), Medscheme (R25 000) and the West Rand Honorary Rangers (R25 000)."
Unitrans is a diversified transportation, distribution and logistics, motor retailing and car rental company. Its business interests include freight and passenger transport, warehousing, distribution and logistics services, express freight, vehicle retailing, fleet management, vehicle leasing and insurance, and car rental. Medscheme's products include Medscheme Health; Medscheme Health Risk Solutions and Medscheme Financial Services. Medscheme Health is a multi medical scheme administrator while Medscheme Health and Risk Solutions provide health and risk management facilitates. Medscheme Financial Services completes the company portfolio.
"The Ranger Support Services unit of Honorary Rangers have been SANParks' rock of support over many years. Through the tireless efforts of John Turner, Margaret Stafford, Snowy Botha and many others we are one step closer to achieving our national conservation management and research goals." Furthermore, the West Rand Honorary Rangers annually make a meaningful contribution to SANParks and conservation with the funds they raise from the Kruger Big Birding Day, under the guidance of chairman Peter Zietsman. In addition, over 40 members of the public made numerous contributions towards the CyberTracker program through the donations pages on the SANParks website. These donations were further encouraged by creative fund raising initiatives such as Operation Duke, "A"-List Birders Weekend and Cricket@Skukuza, created by the SANParks forum moderators and members, "who not only generously offer their money but also their valuable time in aid of conservation."
"I would therefore like to send out a heart-felt thank you on behalf of myself, SANParks researchers, park managers, section rangers and field rangers, to everyone who generously donated (big or small) to the SANParks CyberTracker initiative over the past year. Our next goal is to expand the project further to equip the rest of SANParks and perhaps increase the number of units per Park."
For more information about the CyberTracker programme check out the http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/conservation/scientific/gis/cybertracker.php link on the internet, while www.cybertracker.org will give you more information about the cybertracker itself and http://www.sanparks.org/forums/ will put you in touch with other SANParks forum members.