The term “citizen science” is intended to widen the network of people whose contribution to science is acknowledged. But the word “citizen” can be problematic.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing away of Master Tracker Horekhwe (Karoha) Langwane of Lone Tree in the central Kalahari, Botswana. Karoha is known to millions of people worldwide as the Kalahari San hunter who ran down the kudu in the video narrated by David Attenborough (see https://cybertracker.org/persistence-hunting-attenborough ). Karoha was also one of the first oralate trackers who used the CyberTracker software to gather data for wildlife surveys. He co-authored several scientific papers published in high-impact journals. His passing is a huge loss to indigenous trackers in the Kalahari.
11 April 2021
The heirs to a cultural history brutally interrupted by colonialism and apartheid are relearning the skills of their forebears in the red dunes of the Kgalagadi
Amidst all the bad news in 2020, there was at least one silver lining. Kenya recently reported that not a single rhino was poached throughout 2020—something that hasn’t happened in the country in over two decades. What’s more, Kenya also saw record lows in the number of elephants poached—only 11 elephants were killed in 2020, the lowest-recorded total in the history of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and a sharp decrease from 350 a year just five years ago.
As the director of the KWS underlined, the authorities’ abilities to keep poaching low even amidst decreased footfall during the Covid-19 pandemic is “not just luck, it’s down to lots of hard work and dedication”. Indeed, Kenyan authorities have taken a number of critical steps towards implementing better anti-poaching policies in recent years and have deployed a number of innovative tools to stamp out the abhorrent practice—from high-tech secure radios from French company Ellipse Projects, to mobile app CyberTracker which has simplified patrols, to community engagement and ensuring that poachers face serious consequences.
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Authors: Louis Liebenberg, /Am //Ao, Marlize Lombard, Michael Shermer, /Uase Xhukwe, Megan Biesele, Di //xao, Peter Carruthers, ≠Oma Kxao, Sven Ove Hansson, Horekhwe (Karoha) Langwane, L. Mark Elbroch, N≠aisa /Ui, Derek Keeping, Glynis Humphrey, Greg Newman, /Ui G/aq’o, Justin Steventon, Njoxlau Kashe, Robert Stevenson, Karel Benadie, Pierre du Plessis, James Minye, /Ui /Kxunta, Bettina Ludwig, ≠Oma Daqm, Marike Louw, Dam Debe, Michael Voysey
In response to recent discussion about terminology, we propose “tracking science” as a term that is more inclusive than citizen science. Our suggestion is set against a post-colonial political background and large-scale migrations, in which “citizen” is becoming an increasingly contentious term. As a diverse group of authors from several continents, our priority is to deliberate a term that is all-inclusive, so that it could be adopted by everyone who participates in science or contributes to scientific knowledge, regardless of socio-cultural background. For example, current citizen science terms used for Indigenous knowledge imply that such practitioners belong to a sub-group that is other, and therefore marginalized. Our definition for “tracking science” does not exclude Indigenous peoples and their knowledge contributions and may provide a space for those who currently participate in citizen science, but want to contribute, explore, and/or operate beyond its confinements. Our suggestion is not that of an immediate or complete replacement of terminology, but that the notion of tracking science can be used to complement the practice and discussion of citizen science where it is contextually appropriate or needed. This may provide a breathing space, not only to explore alternative terms, but also to engage in robust, inclusive discussion on what it means to do science or create scientific knowledge. In our view, tracking science serves as a metaphor that applies broadly to the scientific community—from modern theoretical physics to ancient Indigenous knowledge.
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“A Smart Patrol System for safeguarding the Lesser White-fronted Geese in Greece” and “A combined patrolling scheme for safeguarding the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece”
Rob Williams, Erin Ashe, Katie Gaut, Rowenna Gryba, Jeffrey E. Moore, Eric Rexstad, Doug Sandilands, Justin Steventon, Randall R. Reeves.
Endang Species Res. Vol. 34: 149–165, 2017
ABSTRACT: Small cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) face serious anthropogenic threats in coastal habitats. These include bycatch in fisheries; exposure to noise, plastic and chemical pollution; disturbance from boaters; and climate change. Generating reliable abundance estimates is essential to assess sustainability of bycatch in fishing gear or any other form of anthropogenic removals and to design conservation and recovery plans for endangered species. Cetacean abundance estimates are lacking from many coastal waters of many developing countries. Lack of funding and training opportunities makes it difficult to fill in data gaps. Even if international funding were found for surveys in developing countries, building local capacity would be necessary to sustain efforts over time to detect trends and monitor biodiversity loss. Large-scale, shipboard surveys can cost tens of thousands of US dollars each day. We focus on methods to generate preliminary abundance estimates from low-cost, small-boat surveys that embrace a ‘training-while-doing’ approach to fill in data gaps while simultaneously building regional capacity for data collection. Our toolkit offers practical guidance on simple design and field data collection protocols that work with small boats and small budgets, but expect analysis to involve collaboration with a quantitative ecologist or statistician. Our audience includes independent scientists, government conservation agencies, NGOs and indigenous coastal communities, with a primary focus on fisheries bycatch. We apply our Animal Counting Toolkit to a smallboat survey in Canada’s Pacific coastal waters to illustrate the key steps in collecting line transect survey data used to estimate and monitor marine mammal abundance.
In 1996 we developed an Icon User Interface design for handheld computers that enabled non-literate trackers to enter complex data. When employed in large numbers over extended periods of time, trackers can gather large quantities of complex, rich biodiversity data that cannot be gathered in any other way. One significant result in the Congo was that data collected by trackers made it possible to alert health authorities to outbreaks of Ebola in wild animal populations, weeks before they posed a risk to humans. Trackers can also play a critical role in preventing the decimation of large mammal fauna due to poaching. Collectively, the seven case studies reviewed in this paper demonstrate the richness and complexity of scientific data contributed by community-based citizen science. Furthermore, trackers can also make novel contributions to science, demonstrated by scientific papers co-authored by trackers. This may have far-reaching implications for the development of an inclusive citizen science. Community-based tracking can significantly contribute to large-scale, long-term monitoring of biodiversity on a worldwide basis. However, community-based citizen science in developing countries will require international support to be sustainable.
What if the world stopped seeing autism as abnormal? Many people with Asperger’s syndrome or autism embrace their condition. They seek respect for ‘neurodiversity’, not a cure.
Acquiring reliable data on large felid populations is crucial for effective conservation and management. However, large felids, typically solitary, elusive and nocturnal, are difficult to survey. Tagging and following individuals with VHF or GPS technology is the standard approach, but costs are high and these methodologies can compromise animal welfare. Such limitations can restrict the use of these techniques at population or landscape levels. In this paper we describe a robust technique to identify and sex individual pumas from footprints. We used a standardized image collection protocol to collect a reference database of 535 footprints from 35 captive pumas over 10 facilities; 19 females (300 footprints) and 16 males (235 footprints), ranging in age from 1–20 yrs. Images were processed in JMP data visualization software, generating one hundred and twenty three measurements from each footprint. Data were analyzed using a customized model based on a pairwise trail comparison using robust cross-validated discriminant analysis with a Ward’s clustering method. Classification accuracy was consistently > 90% for individuals, and for the correct classification of footprints within trails, and > 99% for sex classification. The technique has the potential to greatly augment the methods available for studying puma and other elusive felids, and is amenable to both citizen-science and opportunistic/local community data collection efforts, particularly as the data collection protocol is inexpensive and intuitive.
PlosONE. Published: March 8, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172065