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A Conservation Tail: Open Source Conservation for a Bigger Impact

At Lion Guardians, there is no secret vault, hidden key, or confusing riddle to-be-solved to obtain information. Open-source conservation is at the core of building partnerships, even with those outside of their industry. Information sharing means a greater impact on conservation efforts around the globe. As a partner of Lion Guardians, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo financially supports their mission of finding and enacting long-term solutions for people and lions to coexist.

Going Digital with LoRaWAN(Long Range Wide Area Network) 

Since 2004, Lion Guardians has been working on hard collaring lioImage From Lion Guardiansns to help track and prevent conflicts, with a focus on the lions identified as ‘conflict-prone lions’, i.e. lions that are at higher risk of conflict. However, through these efforts, they have noted many challenges with the GPS collars; high failure rates, insufficient battery life, large and bulky sizes, and most of all, the collars are not effective conflict mitigation tools.

In 2021, a partnership with Tech 4 Conservation (T4C) brought about a new system for tracking and alerting technology, which has led to mitigating conflicts faster.

LoRaWAN technology has been used successfully in the cattle industry to track animal location and movement. Lion Guardians and T4C are working to integrate the LoRaWAN trackers into collars for conflict-prone lions. By placing small mobile LoRaWAN gateways that pick up signals from the lions’ collars (fitted with LoRa tags) in conflict hotspots, Lion Guardians are immediately alerted once a lion crosses a specified perimeter. This early warning system allows our teams to respond when lions wander into high risk areas near homesteads, increasing our ability to effectively mitigate conflict.

Knowledge Sharing App

Lion Guardians created a smartphone application that acts as a platform for sharing knowledge and lessons learned from almost 20 years in conservation. The app has been designed to be used both internally and externally with other conservation organizations and partners. The app also documents traditional Maasai conservation knowledge and has an offline version that will be released to Guardians, which contains videos and audios for them to access in Maa (native language of the Maasai).

Lion Identification Network of Collaborators (LiNC)

LiNC is an open-source database with AI algorithms that are freely available to conservationists and researchers across Africa and beyond. Lion Guardians has focused on updating the software’s interface, documentation, security system, all while consistently updating the Lion Guardians LiNC database with all the newest sightings of lions.

In addition to LiNC developments, Lion Guardians has been assisting organizations working on similar problems. Through supporting them in developing AI individual recognition tools for non-patterned species, for example, North American wolves and lions in the Gir Forest of India, and sharing existing algorithms, organizations such as ACW (African Carnivore Wildbook) and WildMe have used lion photograph datasets to test and develop new algorithms.