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FrontlinesSMS as an early warning network for human-wildlife mitigation: Lessons learned from tests conducted in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Le Bel S., Chavernac D., Mapuvire G., Cornu G.. 2014. Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries, 60 (6) : 13 p..

Human-wildlife conflicts (HWCs) have drastically increased around conservation areas in Africa in recent decades, thus undermining the peaceful cohabitation of wildlife populations and rural human settlements. Mitigation packages include HWC reporting, which is often ineffective since the information conveyed is generally scattered and useless. The booming mobile phone sector and the popular use of text messages (SMS) have provided an opportunity to assess the impact of real-time communication systems in HWC mitigation strategies. This paper presents the results of preliminary tests conducted in Mozambique and Zimbabwe with FrontlineSMS, a mobile data collection system. With sets of 52 wildlife playing cards, any wildlife events from patrol reports to HWCs were easily translated into explanatory variables listed on forms. Sending written information as text messages was hampered by IT problems linked with the use of commercial 3G USB modems. The overall system could be improved by using GPRD modems allowing a higher SMS flow and, at the informant level, by introducing ad-hoc SMS models to facilitate data capture on mobile phones. Once adopted, HWC early warning systems could be deployed at low cost.

Mots-clés : zone protegée; animal sauvage; genre humain; télécommunication; système d'alerte rapide; conservation des ressources; système d'information; zimbabwe; mozambique

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