Wildlife officials in Kenya have created a free mobile phone app to help Track wild animals of the country. They plan to use the information from the app to help protect animals.
Kenya is home to nearly 400 species of mammals. Officials say it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect them as climate change and human activities damage their natural environments.
The Mammal Atlas Kenya, or Makenya, allows any user who sees a wild mammal identify it and indicate its location. Users can also provide other details.
“You can also add the behavior,” said Dr Simon Musila, a researcher at the National Museums of Kenya. “When you see this animal, what are they doing? Are they resting? Are they running away? Are they feeding? What are they doing when you see them?”
Musila said there is a need for many people to use the app to get more information about animals. This may help the small number of mammal specialists in Kenya. The specialists kept records of the evolution of the environment and the conditions of survival of the animals.
Many people, including safari guides, visitors, students or anyone who goes out and sees the animals, could use the app, Musila said. They can upload images and add details, such as the number of mammals and their exact location.
Samson Onyuok uses the Makenya app. He said he was proud to contribute to the protection of animals in his country. Users like him have reported more than 2,500 mammal sightings since August.
“I think as a Kenyan it’s my little way of contributing to conservation initiativessaid Onyuok.
Experts say that while Africa is not the cause of much climate change, it is badly affected by it. Dr. Philip Muruthi, vice president of the African Wildlife Foundation, told VOA that the birth rate of rare mammals and the survival rate of young are declining.
“It is very difficult to benefit to or deal with what you don’t know,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important. It’s going to tell us what species we have, where they are, and maybe which ones are highly endangered, what we need to do about them. And especially not just the big things but also the little things, like bats.”
Wildlife officials say Kenya is home to at least a third of Africa’s mammal species and hope app users will help protect them.
I am Andrew Smith.
Victoria Amunga wrote this story for Voice of America. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.
words in this story
Track -v. to find an animal’s location and get information about where it lives and where it goes
species -not. a distinct class of plants or animals whose members have the same characteristics and can reproduce with each other
mammal -not. species of animals whose females feed their young with milk
to contribute -v. do or give something to help
conservation initiatives -not. plans, projects or efforts to preserve environments in nature, such as forests, rivers, animal habitats, etc.
initiative -not. a plan or project, usually involving many people or groups, to accomplish or achieve a result
benefit to -v. to help produce a good result or add value
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