ZELA: Embrace digital tools to revolutionise wildlife conservation

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has called for digital technologies to revolutionise wildlife conservation efforts, enhance efficiency, and facilitate wildlife protection.

ZELA emphasised integrating technologies like species identification apps, artificial intelligence, and drones to enhance monitoring and protection.

In a statement commemorating World Wildlife Day (WWD), ZELA noted the ongoing global digital revolution, which breaks barriers to inclusive digital governance and offers equal opportunities for leveraging digital transformation in wildlife conservation.

The day was commemorated under the theme, “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation.”

“Technologies such as species identification apps, camera traps, artificial intelligence, and drones are increasingly being utilised for monitoring and protecting wildlife. Technology plays a critical role in aiding law enforcement efforts to disrupt criminal networks, providing valuable tools for dismantling wildlife crime and the broader illegal wildlife trade.”

ZELA stated that technology also plays a crucial role in promoting harmonious human-wildlife coexistence through enhanced mitigation efforts.

“ZELA remains at the forefront of enhancing wildlife conservation and complementing ongoing wildlife conservation interventions in Zimbabwe, by spearheading the development of digital innovations such as the Envirobot app and the Environmental Crime and Incidents Tracker app. These pioneering digital tools serve as crucial platforms for disseminating wildlife information among stakeholders and act as centralized hubs for wildlife data.”

They added that wildlife conservation must prioritise a transition towards a digital approach, which has the potential to foster the development of technologies and services that support sustainable and legal wildlife trade, as well as harmonious human-wildlife coexistence, all while considering the needs of future generations.

“The pivotal moment for wildlife conservation lies in not only recognizing the existing digital innovations but also in identifying and addressing any digital blind spots.”

The natural resources organization added that there is a need to further explore how digital solutions in wildlife conservation can be advanced to mitigate negative impacts for wildlife conservation effectively.

“Exploring digital innovation in wildlife conservation offers a unique opportunity for intergenerational exchanges within wildlife conservation spaces. These exchange spaces serve as platforms to empower youths, who often possess greater technological proficiency, to take a leading role in driving the paradigm shift towards digital conservation solutions.”

“As ZELA, we recognise the importance of engaging youth in this endeavour, which is why we established a dedicated youth network, the ‘ZELA Youth Network.’ Through this network, we aim to empower young people and harness their potential to contribute significantly to wildlife conservation efforts.”

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