Kenya’s wildlife officials have made a free mobile phone app to help track wild animals in the country. They plan to use information from the app to help protect the animals.
Kenya is home to nearly 400 species of mammals. Officials say it is getting more difficult to protect them, as climate change and human activities damage their natural environments.
The Mammal Atlas Kenya, or Makenya, lets any user who sees a wild mammal identify it and give its location. Users can also give other details.
"You can also add the behavior," said Dr. Simon Musila, a researcher at the National Museums of Kenya. "When you see this animal, what are they doing? Are they resting? Are they running away? Are they feeding? What are they doing at the moment you see them?”
Musila said there is a need to have many people use the app to get more information about the animals. This can help the small number of mammal specialists in Kenya. The specialists have kept records of the animals’ changing environments and survival conditions.
Many people, including safari guides, visitors, students, or anyone who goes out and sees the animals, could use the app, Musila said. They can upload images and add details, such as the number of mammals and their exact locations.
Samson Onyuok uses the Makenya app. He said he is proud to help protect animals in his country. Users like him have reported more than 2,500 mammal sightings since August.
"I think as a Kenyan, that is my little way of contributing to the conservation initiatives,” Onyuok said.
Experts say that while Africa is not the cause of much climate change, it is badly affected by it. Dr. Philip Muruthi, vice president of the African Wildlife Foundation, told VOA that the birth rate of rare mammals and the survival rate of young ones are dropping.
"It is very hard to benefit or manage what you don't know," he said. "That is why this is so important. It is going to tell us which species we have, where they are, and maybe which ones are highly endangered, what we need to do about them. And especially not just the big things but also the small things, like the bats."
Wildlife officials say Kenya is home to at least a third of the mammal species in Africa and are hopeful app users will help protect them.
I’m Andrew Smith.
Victoria Amunga wrote this story for Voice of America. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
track –v. to find the location of an animal and get information about where it lives and where it goes
species –n. a distinct class of plants or animals whose members have the same characteristics and can reproduce with each other
mammal –n. species of animals whose females feed their young with milk
contribute –v. to do or give something to help
conservation initiatives –n. plans, projects, or efforts to preserve environments in nature, such as forests, rivers, animal habitats, and the like
initiative –n. a plan or project, usually involving many people or groups, to accomplish or achieve some result
benefit –v. to help produce a good result or add value
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