LONDON, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- At the START Summit in London, IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced how it is working with Marwell Wildlife, a conservation charity, to help secure a future for Grevy's zebra, an endangered species with less than 2,500 individuals in the wild.
Predictive analytics is playing a key role in helping conserve wildlife in northern Kenya. Marwell Wildlife is conducting a survey on Grevy's zebra where local nomadic herdsmen are interviewed about their attitudes towards the zebras, what they think the key threats facing them are and where they think they are within this large area. The herdsmen have very good knowledge about wildlife and interviewing them is a very efficient means of collecting information over this vast and inaccessible area.
Marwell Wildlife selected IBM predictive analytics software to help identify patterns and analyse data which will help inform decisions on conservation measures for Grevy's zebra.
By improving Marwell's insight into herders' attitudes through the surveys, and combining this with information from aerial surveys, camera traps and radio collars on the zebras, Marwell now has a more detailed understanding of the issues surrounding the zebra and are therefore able to understand the main threats facing the species, which allows limited conservation resources to be focused towards these areas.
For example, one of the main reasons for hunting is to produce traditional medicines from the zebra's body fat. If herding communities were able to access modern medicines then the need for hunting would be much reduced.
"The IBM predictive analytics software is critical in analysing the information we collect from the field. The data from the surveys is vast and complex and requires powerful software to analyse it. The software is ideal for identifying trends and patterns from this data," said Dr. Guy Parker, Head of Biodiversity Management at Marwell Wildlife. "In the case of the recent interview survey, the software enabled us to determine peoples' attitudes towards the Grevy's zebra. Furthermore, we were able to determine what influence factors such as education level, age, location, and wildlife benefits had upon peoples' attitudes. This is the kind of complex multi-variate analysis that the IBM predictive analytics software is designed to tackle."
"The work at Marwell Wildlife takes the use of analytics to a whole new level," said Colin Shearer, predictive analytics strategist at IBM. "It is great to see analytics play such a critical part towards the conservation of Wildlife."
Dr. Guy Parker will explain the benefits of using predictive analytics to achieve sustainability of wildlife in his presentation 'The Management of Information', to take place on Wednesday September 15th from 14.45 – 15.30 during the START Summit. For more information, please visit: http://www.ibm.com/uk/start.
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Notes to Editors
For more information about Marwell Wildlife please contact Helen Jeffreys, PR Officer, Marwell Wildlife firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marwell and partners surveyed the far north of Kenya at the beginning of 2010. Because the area was so difficult to survey, Marwell decided to interview local people. Pastoral communities live across the whole of northern Kenya and move their livestock with the rains. They know a great deal about the landscape and its wildlife. Therefore, talking to them is the most efficient means of collecting information.
The far north of Kenya provides a link between northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. This area is also vast and may contain large numbers of wildlife. In addition, there are currently only 2 conservation areas in the whole of the far north, so there is little protection for the wildlife there.
Marwell has been working with Kenyan conservation partners for 15 years to conserve the Grevy's zebra. This has involved working with the Kenyan government to get the Grevy's zebra protected by law, conducting surveys to work out where the Grevy's zebra occur and in what numbers, and working with local communities in northern Kenya to protect the Grevy's zebra and other wildlife.
Marwell Wildlife works with a number of conservation organisations including: Northern Rangelands Trust, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Grevy's zebra Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service, Denver Zoo and St Louis Zoo, as well as a number of community conservancies across northern Kenya.
There are believed to be approximately 2,500 Grevy's zebra left in the wild. However, there is some uncertainty about the numbers because they range over a vast area and are notoriously difficult to count.
While Grevy's zebra used to live across the Horn of Africa, today they are only found in northern Kenya – their stronghold – and small areas of southern Ethiopia. The core of their range is in central northern Kenya where their numbers have stabilised and they appear to be recovering.
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