Kenya’s wildlife authorities have launched a free mobile phone app that allows users to track rare mammals in order to help authorities protect them.
The Mammal Atlas of Kenya, or Makenia, allows any user who discovers a wild mammal to identify it and record its location.
According to national data, Kenya is home to almost 400 species of mammals, 22 of which are found in the regions of Kenya. Authorities say protecting them is becoming increasingly difficult as climate change and human activity damage their natural habitat.
Therefore, the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Conservation Authority and partners have developed a mobile application that also allows you to upload photos and details such as the number of mammals seen and their exact location.
“You can also add behavior,” said Dr. Simon Musila, a researcher at the National Museums of Kenya. “When you see this animal, what do they do? They are resting? Are they running away? They’re eating? What are they doing the moment you see them?”
Musila said it’s important to involve the public in using the technology to help the country’s limited number of mammal specialists. Wildlife authorities said staff will keep a record of the animals’ changing habitat and survival conditions.
According to him, it is necessary “to attract a lot of people who can provide a lot of data.” “These are people like safari guides. These are people like students, tourists, people who go out and encounter animals and will be willing to provide data.”
Samson Onyok uses the Makenya app. Users like him have reported more than 2,500 sightings of mammals since the app launched in August.
“Firstly, I am proud to contribute to environmental initiatives in the country,” he said. “I think, as a Kenyan, this is my little way to contribute to conservation initiatives. So yes, with that comes satisfaction.”
Experts say Africa contributes minimally to climate change but bears the brunt of its effects. Dr. Philip Muruti, vice president of the African Wildlife Fund, told VOA that rare mammal reproduction and juvenile survival rates are declining.
“It’s very difficult to capitalize on or manage what you don’t know,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important. This will tell us what species we have, where they are and perhaps which ones are endangered, what we need to do with them. And especially not only big things, but small things like bats.”
Wildlife officials say Kenya is home to at least a third of Africa’s mammal species and hope app users step up efforts to protect them.