Often times, we think about the problems plaguing our planet and wildlife as separate issues. When we think about going green, we tend to consider saving water, protecting endangered species, reducing the use of toxic chemicals and eliminating paper waste individually. Recently, I ran across a story that serves as an example of how with creativity, efforts to protect the Earth and the creatures that inhabit it can intersect.
The story involves the endangered African rhino, which is killed by poachers who collect its horn and sell it on the black market in Asian countries where its powder is believed to have healing powers. African governments and international animal welfare groups have launched programs to try and discourage poachers and apprehend the criminals in the act.
At the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, poaching has become a serious problem, and the conservationists who work there have been trying to develop a mobile application that could be used to track where poachers were striking to enhance patrols. Believing they might be able to develop their own app inexpensively, they began to search Google for information about programming.
Instead of finding a tutorial on how to build an app, they found one that was perfect for their needs--Canvas. This mobile app for Android devices is designed to help companies move to paperless contracts and record keeping. It uses a sophisticated GPS system to track the location of employees and gives users the ability to capture electronic signatures, images and more and transmit them to the Cloud.
The conservationists at Sadi Sand Game Reserve are now using the app for record tracking and have so far had some success with combating poachers. They also introduced the app to nearby Kruger National Park, so that the two facilities could coordinate their efforts.
This story was very eye opening to me and made me think more about how solutions for one environmental problem may be useful tools for affecting change in other areas. If you'd like to learn more about the plight of endangered rhinos, you can check out this great article from the World Wildlife Federation.