Horekhwe (Karoha) Langwane

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

Kenya reaping the benefits of its aggressive anti-poaching drive, bolstered by Ellipse Projects radios and CyberTracker app

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.

Read full article here:


Tracking Science: An Alternative for Those Excluded by Citizen Science

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.

Read Essay Here:


Animal Counting Toolkit: a practical guide to small-boat surveys for estimating abundance of coastal marine mammals.

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.

Click to access n034p149.pdf

Smartphone Icon User Interface design for non-literate trackers and its implications for an inclusive citizen science


Louis LiebenbergJustin Steventon!Nate BrahmanKarel BenadieJames MinyeHorekhwe (Karoha) LangwaneQuashe (/Uase) Xhukwe


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.

Download pdf of paper here…


The challenge of monitoring elusive large carnivores: An accurate and cost-effective tool to identify and sex pumas (Puma concolor) from footprints


Sky Alibhai , Zoe Jewell , Jonah Evans



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.

Read article here…


PlosONE. Published: March 8, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172065

CitSci.org and CyberTracker Team Up to Advance Citizen Science


by: Sarah Newman | February 16th, 2017 6:00 am

The year is 2001 and this is Central Africa. Reports are trickling in about an Ebola outbreak. The outbreak is unanticipated. Data for tracking and predicting the spread of the outbreak are scarce. Lives are at stake. What do you do?

Enter CyberTracker.

CyberTracker is a downloadable desktop software application developed to assist non-literate wild animal trackers collecting data about animal movements and behavior. CyberTracker, developed by Louis Liebenberg, Associate of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and Justin Stevenson, lead software developer, is a participatory citizen science project. Trackers reported data on gorilla and other wildlife in Central Africa at the time of the 2001 Ebola outbreak. The European Commission was funding part of the project at that time and turned to CyberTrackers for help.

CyberTracker patrol data showed presence of lowland gorilla before the outbreak and absence over a large area after the outbreak. When subsequent Ebola outbreaks occurred in Gabon and later in the Republic of the Congo, CyberTracker data again came to the rescue. Data showed a significant drop in signs of gorilla, chimpanzee, duiker and bushpig. Wild animal Ebola outbreaks, it turns out, began before each of the five human Ebola outbreaks. By keeping an eye on CyberTracker data, it became possible to alert health authorities to an imminent risk for human Ebola outbreaks on two different occasions weeks before they occurred.

“One of the great features of CyberTracker software is that it was developed with an icon-based user interface that enables expert non-literate trackers to record complex geo-referenced observations on animal behaviour,” says Louis Liebenberg.

But…there’s a catch.

“Unfortunately CyberTracker data are not yet available online. Cybertracker does not have an online back-end, which makes it impractical for citizen science projects, since it is not easy for citizens to get access to the data. Instead, data are stored in a physical Access database on individual PCs or, in MySQL, MSSQL Server, or PostGreSQL databases on a server. That’s where we come in,” says Greg Newman, a scientist with the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory.

That ‘we’ is the team at Colorado State University’s CitSci.org. In 2007, while CyberTracker software was continuing to be used to alert health officials of Ebola outbreaks, researchers at CitSci.org were busy developing an online platform to allow people around the world to create their own online, open, and easily shared citizen science and community based monitoring projects. They set about developing a platform that allows individuals and groups to create and customize their own citizen science projects in much in the same way that CyberTracker users configure their own apps.

So – it comes to no surprise that these two innovators – CyberTracker and CitSci.org – eventually became aware of each other’s work. They formed a collaborative team and recently received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation Directorate, SI2-SSI entitled Advancing and Mobilizing Citizen Science Data through an Integrated Sustainable Cyberinfrastructure, to integrate these two innovative software systems.

This new collaboration between CyberTracker and CitSci.org (dubbed the cyberFABRICS project) is novel in the rapidly growing field of citizen science because it focuses on integration of existing systems and interoperability between existing systems. Rather than build yet another platform or app or desktop software application, this grant instead wrestles with the challenge of integrating existing systems in a plug-and-play way to amplify the utility and reach of existing software.

By making the millions of scientific observations made by CyberTracker users freely available and accessible online via CitSci.org – the grant will mobilize these important scientific datasets and empower others to combine them in what are called meta-synthetic studies to generate novel findings and advance knowledge. Additionally, by extending the capabilities of CitSci.org to support the icon-based user interfaces of CyberTracker –  the reach and utility of CitSci.org will also be amplified – allowing the platform to better serve anyone – regardless of their literacy, language, locale or age. Other examples of envisioned software integrations enabled through this project include automated sharing of CitSci.org and CyberTracker species observations with the popular and global iNaturalist network of voluntary naturalists and enthusiasts that vet species identifications and the sharing of fine-scale meteorological observations made by a network of rain-gauge monitors powered by the Colorado State University-based Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

The results of this CyberTracker/CitSci.org partnership are due to be completed by October 2020. When that time comes, those alerting health officials of new Ebola outbreaks will be able to easily post their CyberTracker apps on CitSci.org for others to download and use to report new disease incidences. They will also be able to upload data captured by their CyberTracker apps to CitSci.org – making these data free and open for use by other scientists, partners, collaborators, and stakeholders around the world. The data may prove important for prediction of more than just Ebola. The creative sharing of software and data will open up opportunities to address a much broader array of locally relevant and globally important challenges.

From: CitSci.org Blog
Photos courtesy of Louis Leibenburg. Banner Photo: CyberTracker App; Insert photo: Damase Ekondzo using the CyberTracker app in the Odzala National Park, Republic of Congo