Wildlife conservation tool launched – Kenya News Agency

There is renewed hope in wildlife protection, restoration, conservation and management after an interactive data-driven tool, wild eyed east africawas launched with support from USAID and the United States Department of the Interior through Internews Earth Journalism Network.

Andiswa Matikinca Associate Journalist OXPECKER Investigative journalism at the launch of WildEye at a Ugandan hotel via Zoom webinar.

The launch by Oxpeckers South Africa in collaboration with InfoNile Uganda will help tackle wildlife crime by providing updates, alerts and information, tracking crime reports, seizures, court proceedings and the convictions.

Speaking at the launch in Uganda yesterday, Andiswa Matikinca, trainer and data manager for WildEye East Africa, said the tool will track and expose eco-criminals in East Africa.

Analysis of East African data collected by journalists (Data Wranglers) using WildEye over the past few months shows that environmental crime in East Africa is on the rise.

Andiswa noted that there was however a drop in 2020 and 2021 likely due to Covid-19 and difficulties with record keeping and delayed court dates.

Andiswa, who is also an associate journalist with the Oxpeckers Investigative Journalism Network, said Kenya topped wildlife crime incidents, accounting for 64% of the 650 recorded data points.

She added that Nairobi, Kampala, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Kwale were the hotspots where the incidents occurred.

Popular item stats in the tracking report were ivory, tusks and wild meat, while incidents recorded on WildEye East included 43% convictions, 34% arrests and 23% court cases. . Noted that the sentence imposed on criminals convicted between 2017 and 2021.

The WildEye tool could be used by journalists and law enforcement to track patterns, trends, routes and specific incidents for law enforcement, forensic investigations, to inform policy, research and training, environmental crime monitoring, data journalism, access to court records, police reports and other official documents.

Wild animals are public resources and should not be trafficked for the benefit of a few disadvantaged countries, their wealth and their heritage.

Annika McGinnis, director and co-founder of InfoNile Investigative Journalism, observed that the Nile, which is the longest transnational river basin that crosses 11 countries in East and North Africa, is threatened by climate change, threats to biodiversity, population growth, water pollution and worsening water scarcity.

She observed that there is a critical gap between the data published by scientists and researchers and their translation into mainstream knowledge through the media, saying the WildEye tool would harmonize the two disciplines for consistent information and credible.

Internews’ Kiundu Waweru observed that the tool could not have come at a better time, especially now that media houses are experiencing declining revenues and are unable to cope with the costly aspects of news gathering. .

He said there are new ways to tell stories like the survey tool that was launched calling it a game changer in the murky waters of wildlife surveys.

Waweru noted that the project is in line with Internews’ philosophy to help the media produce quality local news that reaches millions of people with quality information to save lives, improve livelihoods and sustain institutions. responsible.

The Internews EJN workshop in Uganda brought together 24 participants of which 8 were editors from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and more participants via a virtual webinar.

He emphasized that impact journalism works in building communities of like-minded collectives passionate about impactful journalism, the environment, heritage including flora and fauna, and serving the people who depend information to make choices and decisions about their lives.

He called on project partners to strive to sustain the Wild Eye East Africa tool.

Jane Shuuma of Traffic, an NGO working on the global trade in wild animals and plants in the context of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, said the NGO ensures that the trade in animals and wild plants does not threaten nature conservation thanks to the Connect project.

She said the project involves conserving natural capital and improving collaborative transboundary resource management in East Africa and implemented in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda with support from USAID.

Ms. Shuuma reiterated that the event is significant in the fight against wildlife crime using the digital journalism tool developed to collect and share data on legal interventions against wildlife trafficking.

She underscored the importance of data for empowerment and making informed strategic decisions to help identify issues, policy decisions and amendments as countries or regional blocs indicating the state showing improvement, stagnation or decline. decline of the efforts made so far.

The behavior change expert noted that wildlife crime cannot be ignored given the role it has played in corruption and the loss of natural resources.

The WildEye project was courtesy of support from partnerships including USAID, US Department of the Interior, Internews, Oxpeckers, InfoNile, IUCN, WWF, JRS Biodiversity Foundation, and Water Journalists Africa, among others.

By Joseph Kamolo

Betty T. Simpson