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Kenya App Allows Users to Help Track Rare Mammals


Nairobi, Kenya — Kenya’s wildlife authorities have launched a free mobile phone app that allows users to track sightings of rare mammals to help authorities protect them.

The Mammal Atlas Kenya, or Makenya, allows any user who spots a wild mammal to identify it and log the location.

Kenya is home to nearly 400 species of mammals, 22 of them natives to regions of Kenya, according to national figures. Authorities say it is getting more difficult to protect them, as climate change and human activities take a toll on their natural habitats.

So the National Museums of Kenya, the Mammal Committee of Nature Kenya and partners designed the mobile app, which also provides a way to upload photographs and details, such as the number of mammals sighted and their exact locations.

“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 it’s important to engage the public using technology to help the country’s limited number of mammal specialists. Wildlife authorities said staff would keep records of the animals’ changing environment and survival conditions.

There’s a need “to bring in many people who can contribute a lot of data,” he said. “These are people like safari guides. These are people like students, tourists, people who go out and come across animals and will be willing to submit data.”