Freeland’s Director attends SMART training in Nepal

(27 February 2016 )

Uttara Mendiratta, Co-Director, Freeland India, attended the South Asia Training of Trainers Workshop in SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool), held from 22nd – 26th February 2016 at Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

The workshop provided participants with hands-on experience in the use of SMART software to perform Law Enforcement Monitoring (LEM) tasks. SMART is a freely available software application that is designed to improve the ability of protected area agencies to combat poaching through a suite of best practices. It can be used by managers to plan, evaluate and implement activities and promote good governance. SMART has been designed by a team of software engineers in collaboration with conservation scientists and conservation managers. The trainers at the Chitwan workshop were drawn from the pool of experts in the SMART partnership.

Participants were trained in the basics of how to create and configure conservation area in SMART, populate it with patrol data, perform analysis of the data and prepare reports. The overall goal was to provide participants with sufficient knowledge to be able to train other users on how to implement and use SMART. Mendiratta adds, “We look forward to helping Indian protected area managers in the use of SMART. The software is user-friendly and can be a great tool for managing and streamlining patrolling activities and enable better accountability.”

 

Mendiratta (extreme right) during field data collection

The workshop was attended by representatives from NGOs and government agencies from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and UAE. In addition to the software training, the workshop provided a platform for lively debates on best practices in field protection. A presentation by the Nepal Army, which has been entrusted with protection of protected areas such as Chitwan, provided insights on how patrolling activities in Nepal have been managed using a combination of mobile devices, phone networks and software to result in effective anti-poaching measures. These have perhaps enabled Chitwan to enjoy a long period of ‘zero rhino poaching’.

For many of the participants, a major bonus at the workshop was the sight of wild rhinos wallowing in the river during the coffee breaks. Not to mention it’s not always that the group photo of a workshop includes a wild rhino!

 

Copy of Nepal_Group Photo

Mendiratta (standing, extreme right) in a group photo of all the participants