Research to action: maximising ranger-collected data to tackle elephant poaching

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ICCS postdoc Tim Kuiper and Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland are partnering with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to help tackle elephant poaching through leveraging poaching data collected by wildlife rangers. Ranger detections of elephant carcasses have immense value for tackling poaching – helping park managers track changes in poaching, and strategically direct and measure the performance of different antipoaching strategies. In late 2020, Tim was awarded a Fellowship from the Oxford Policy Engagement Network to translate his PhD research into action in Zimbabwe. Tim’s PhD assessed the reliability of ranger-collected data and how these data were used by park managers in the Zambezi Valley.

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A ranger uses a handheld device to record an old elephant carcass while on patrol (Photo: Tim Kuiper; used with the permission of the ranger).

 

 

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Two-way knowledge exchange

ZimParks staff have been close research collaborators since 2018, co-authoring two recent publications with Tim: one on participatory modelling to identify elephant poaching hotspots from ranger-collected data, and another on ranger perceptions of data collection. Knowledge Exchange thus started with ZimParks partners sharing their local knowledge and experience to direct Tim’s PhD research. Now ZimParks partners and ICCS are working together to identify specific policy processes and strategies to maximise the use of ranger-collected data to tackle elephant poaching in Zimbabwe.