With financial and technical support from ESCAMP, the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) has introduced the Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool (SMART) to all of its leading Wildlife Protected Areas (WLPAs), since 2017. SMART is a globally used software application that enables field staff of protected areas to collect field data based on their observations, while patrolling within and outside protected areas. This is enabling the Department of Wildlife Conservation to develop a computer database, to analyse information and plan for better management of wildlife resources.
With the support provided by ESCAMP, the field staff of DWC are being trained in handling hand-held devices for the collection of field data to develop a SMART database at the WLPA Head Quarters under the supervision of the Officer in Charge. Necessary equipment was also provided by ESCAMP under the programme. Data and information on key wildlife species, human activities and physical features, and so on, collected by the field staff while patrolling can be uploaded to this database. The patrol tracks taken by patrolling teams, locations where key species of wildlife and human activities were observed are mapped using GIS technology in the database.
Using the SMART tool, periodic reports on law enforcement strategies implemented in WLPAs can be reported to the DWC Regional Assistant Directors and other management at the Head Office in Colombo, allowing them also to supervise closely.
In addition to the introductory training programmes conducted for the field staff, SMART Patrolling has now been institutionalised by including it as a new module in the syllabus of the Diploma course conducted for DWC Wildlife Rangers by Colombo University, through financial support provided by ESCAMP.
The first training workshop on SMART Patrolling for Diploma-level trainees was held successfully at Veheragala in Lunugamwehera National Park from 7 to 10 March 2021. The participating Wildlife Rangers were trained on the latest version of the SMART tool to conduct field exercises, collect field data, and to develop a computer data base. At the end of this introductory session, the participants were guided to make a presentation on their findings.
The introduction of SMART Patrolling through the support of ESCAMP is enabling DWC management to device appropriate long-term management strategies that are effective. Such a fact-based management methodology will invariably ensure the long-term protection of wildlife resources in Sri Lanka.