New Maps May Help Chase Down Poachers Before They Strike

LEWA WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY, KENYAA tiny bungalow in the central Kenyan bush is the joint operation center for a new kind of weapon in the war against wildlife poaching: information—lots of it.

It’s searingly hot in Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and the ceiling fan ticks above a wall-mounted touch screen displaying a map with icons of elephants and rhinos scattered throughout the area.

Selvam Velmurugan presses a finger on one of the elephant icons, and an information window pops open above it. “These are live animals roaming the reserve as we speak,” he says. If one of the animals wanders past a border and into a human settlement, he explains, Lewa's managers are sent an alert on their phone so they can react immediately. “It’s like we have a virtual data fence surrounding the reserve. We’ll know exactly where and when the animal has crossed by taking one look at the screen.”

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