ICTs and Environmental Safety

Published on 17th January 2012

Rangers using a transmitter              Photo courtesy
Human wildlife conflict in Amboseli National park has been reduced drastically by the use of information and communication technology. In the park, lions are colored using a transmitter that sends signals to a central data collection point. This has given a sigh of relief to environmentalists who were worried about the decreasing number of lions over the past years.

According to Stephen Muniu, a research scientist at the Amboseli National Park, the Maasai community living within the park have been killing the lions eying upon livestock, the Maasai’s only source of livelihood. Iregi Mwenja, The Kenya country manager of a local charitable organization called Born Free Foundation says that human -wildlife conflict is a great concern. The foundation lobbies for conservation of wildlife and has put up lion proof Bomas to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

The coloring of lions technology helps the Amboseli team to monitor the lion movement and body temperature. The community around Amboseli  is consequently in constant communication with the Amboseli to ascertain the whereabouts of the lions hence keep off  livestock from harm. This is just one example where ICTs have solved an environmental problem that had led to loss of wildlife.

ICTs are crucial in such areas as weather prediction and bird monitoring. Ornithologists  for example, tag birds with satellites to monitor their migration patterns right on their computers.

Other areas where ICTs have been of great help is in mobile telephony. With 635 million people in Africa connected, Hezron Gikanga, Group Head, Environmental Social Management Policy (ESMP) and Regulatory Information Support from Airtel Africa Group ensure that all connection related activities comply with environmental standards within the African region where Airtel networks spread. Some of the countries include, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DR, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

According to Hezron,  mobile telephony is an enabler of economic and social development far beyond its domain as evidenced by the evolution of important innovative and efficient value added services in commerce, health, agriculture and education. Key structures in all these is the need to be in harmony with environmental integrity. For example a mast cannot be erected in a protected area   area or where a wetland passes.

A lot needs to be done regarding E-waste management. The more ICTs come our way, the more lots of E-waste is generated. Having no clear regulations on how E-waste should be managed poses a risk. Prone to environmental catastrophes, Africans need to fully make use of ICTs to help them solve their environmental problems. The adoption should however conform to sound environmental discipline.

By Mary Mwendwa,

TransWorld Radio.

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