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New year sees the trial of a new method for solving human-wildlife conflict

All of us involved in the conservation of wildlife have learnt, often painfully, that there is no silver bullet to solving each of the various issues facing the long-term survival of wildlife and wild spaces.

Though we wish that there were, that the solving of this one next issue would give us the fix we have long sought after, the globe is an ever-changing, ever in need of balancing, organism. Our solutions often create new pressure points or highlight previously unconsidered areas of concern.

We obviously learn from each of the earth’s new turns, from every new mistake that is made and we move forward after each new developmental target is met.

What’s more, we are proud to say that we have put that learning to good use. Our last article offered up a year in review summation of all that the Tsavo Trust accomplished in 2022. We won’t rewrite that article in this one, but suffice it to say that the results we witnessed, especially regarding the amelioration of human elephant conflict, were heart-warming.

We have seen results and we are justifiably proud of them. However, that does not mean we do not welcome any new tools built for the purpose of decreasing instance rates of human-elephant, and human-wildlife conflict.

That is why the development of a new satellite-assisted simulator, presently on trial in the Hwange-Kazuma-Chobe Wildlife Dispersal Area, is the cause of such excitement for us.

Pilot scheme for conservation policy simulator designed to predict policy results

A team of researchers comprised of experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Universities of Bergen and Nova Lisbon, have been working extensively with local stakeholders in a section of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier to collect data they hope will inform a simulator that is being designed to predict the outcome of policy decisions regarding conservation in the locality.

With their intensive stakeholder interviews, their on-the-ground research and with the help of satellite imagery, the simulator is made increasingly more aware of cause and affect actions that influence wildlife conservation in the area. The work on the simulator is going well. The UNEP describes the development of the simulator optimistically, considering it now “accurate enough to simulate real policy choices.”

What is being trialled here is a method of forecasting how certain wildlife conservation decisions will play out long-term. If we, here in the Tsavo Conservation Area for example, decided to encourage a certain shift in agricultural policy, away from one crop and into another, the simulator could be programmed to tell us what the result of that policy would be in five or ten years time.

This tool could have incredible real world application and it could be applied to streamline policy making in a way that is presently impossible. We wish the researchers down in Hwange-Kazuma-Chobe many speedy returns in their research. This tool could promise great things to come for wildlife conservation.

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