Land Restoration Using Tech on World Environment Day

On World Environment Day, Mara Elephant Project wanted to highlight how we’re using technology and data to monitor and restore the ecosystem’s health and there’s no better person than MEP Data and Reporting Manager Francis Odero to explain.

Francis is an active member of Generation Restoration (a World Environment Day theme) having grown up in Kajiado in Kenya fascinated by the role technology and data plays in better understanding the landscape. “If you think about it, data is the crude oil in the current world, it’s fueling discovery,” says Francis. “It enables us to see what we cannot see with our naked eye, and it gives us more insights and identifies trends so early intervention is possible.”

At MEP, Francis and the team are incorporating AI into elephant identification and using technological tools like EarthRanger and Ecoscope to collect, visualize and analyze conservation data. “These tools allow us to take a data-driven approach,” says Francis. “We don’t just decide what will have the most impact, we see it thanks to the data.”

Take conflict for example, MEP alongside the Wildlife Research and Training Institute has collected data on the number of human-elephant conflict incidents since 2016 and have identified trends which inform more effective intervention methods. These findings drove MEP to invest in training and equipping rangers with drones to more effectively respond to human-elephant conflict day and night. MEP’s investment continues by offering drone training to other conservation organizations alongside our partner Expert Drones Africa so we can share this tool with others working toward the same coexistence goal. “How we use of the data to engage with stakeholders is key,” he says. “I really enjoy creating outputs that share the data with my colleagues and fellow managers to help them apply conservation practices.”

Francis has hope still that we can make peace with the land and restore biodiversity. “I want to be in the era when the change will happen,” he says. “I want to be part of the change and I’m pretty sure it’s all relying on conservation.”

Hear more about Francis in the latest Boots on the Ground podcast, sponsored by MEP.