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New GEF-Funded Project to Deploy EarthRanger to Strengthen Protected Areas in Africa, Prevent Poaching and Reduce Human-Wildlife Conflict

Supports management of 4.9 million hectares of Protected Areas in Botswana, Mozambique, Republic of Congo 

A silverback gorilla at Mbelli Bai in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. Photo courtesy S. Ramsay with WCS

NAIROBI, Kenya (Nov. 16, 2022) — The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council has approved a US$7.2 million project to deploy EarthRanger to support the management of 4.9 million hectares (ha) of terrestrial Protected Areas (PAs) in three African countries. The effort will help enhance real-time prevention and response to escalating threats of poaching, human-wildlife conflicts and habitat loss.  

Since its inception in 2015, EarthRanger has helped PA managers, ecologists and wildlife biologists make more informed and effective conversation-related decisions. In partnership with many conservation and technology partners, it is a software solution that combines real-time data from ranger patrols, remote imaging and various sensors to provide monitoring information that helps keep wildlife, habitats and communities safe. 

Funded by a US$2.4 million GEF grant and US$4.8 million co-financing from partners, the three-and-a-half-year project (July 2022-March 2026) will be implemented in six PAs: Botswana’s Chobe National Park (NP), Mozambique's Limpopo and Zinave NPs and the Republic of Congo's Nouabalé-Ndoki, Odzala-Kokoua and Conkouati-Douli NPs.  

A look at EarthRanger being used inside Odzala-Kokoua National Park's command center. With EarthRanger, rangers and conservationists can see, in real-time, where exactly their wildlife are improving the way they protect these threatened animals. Photo courtesy Irene Galera / African Parks

The partnership will allow for improved infrastructure such as operations rooms, vehicle and animal tracking devices, and communication networks such as digital radio systems and Long-Range Radio (LoRa). These improvements will increase the effectiveness of conservation technologies to protect critically important ecosystems that are often in areas with limited connectivity.

“Many Protected Areas in Africa are facing pressures that are leading to biodiversity loss and unchecked habitat destruction. Reversing these trends will require improved monitoring to better inform the adequate response and to improve the management of these important areas for biodiversity and people. We see tremendous potential from EarthRanger’s technology and data collection, which will help Protected Area managers, ecologists, and wildlife biologists make more informed operational decisions for wildlife conservation,” said Claude Gascon, the GEF’s Manager of Programs

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), EarthRanger’s parent organization, and Conservation International will execute the project in partnership with Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), the Mozambique National Sustainable Development Fund, the Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Tourism and Environment, African Parks, Noé, Peace Parks Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society.

"We're proud to be serving a role in the protection of critically important areas for biodiversity across the world. We hope and expect that this partnership with the GEF will help these six parks become some of the most advanced Protected Areas in the world, giving them the infrastructure and capabilities that will make them examples for how technology can assist the women and men on the ground to protect and establish habitats where wildlife can thrive," said Jes Lefcourt, Director of the EarthRanger program at AI2.

“The planet is facing a biodiversity crisis and these regions are home to a vast number of species that are important for the overall health and balance of their respective ecosystems. Innovative tools like EarthRanger will help support the protection efforts already underway in each of these African parks,” said Suzanne Ngo-Eyok, SVP from Conservation SVP.

Protecting wildlife with real-time data

Developed by Vulcan LLC and partners, and now part of AI2, EarthRanger is a data visualization and analysis system giving conservationists the real-time information they need to keep wildlife, habitats and communities safe. It collects, integrates and displays remote sensing data and field reports to effectively monitor collared wildlife, rangers, enforcement assets and infrastructure within PAs. The application of EarthRanger is diverse and varies relative to the primary needs of the area or organization. Among them, the platform is used to monitor vast areas, track and study wildlife, coordinate ranger units and proactively mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

The EarthRanger program has been in place for over six years and has reduced threats to biodiversity and habitats in 200 Protected Areas across Africa and 50 Protected Areas on other continents. It has facilitated the reintroduction and restoration of diverse species and ecosystems that deliver global environmental and socioeconomic benefits.

This project will promote the uptake of the EarthRanger system in other Protected Areas across Africa through the dissemination of success stories and best practices via the EarthRanger website and other platforms.

Additional information about the project is available HERE.

About Conservation International 

Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships, and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. Conservation International works in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable planet. Follow Conservation International's work on Conservation News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube 

About the Global Environment Facility  

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established 30 years ago on the eve of the Rio Earth Summit to tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, it has provided more than $21.7 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $119 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 projects and programs. The GEF is the largest multilateral trust fund focused on enabling developing countries to invest in nature and supports the implementation of major international environmental conventions including biodiversity, climate change, chemicals, and desertification. It brings together 184 member governments in addition to civil society, international organizations, and private sector partners. Through its Small Grants Programme, the GEF has provided support to more than 26,000 civil society and community initiatives in 135 countries.  

About The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence  

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) is a non-profit research institute founded in 2014 with the mission of conducting high-impact AI research and engineering in service of the common good. EarthRanger is part of AI2’s efforts to drive fundamental advances in science, medicine, and conservation through AI. Developed by Vulcan Inc. in partnership with many conservation and technology partners, it is a software solution that combines real-time data from ranger patrols, remote imaging, and many various sensors. Both AI2 and Vulcan LLC were founded by the late Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, Paul G. Allen.