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updated 9/18/2012 1:58:32 PM ET 2012-09-18T17:58:32

At the World Conservation Congress, which just wrapped up in Korea, conservationists announced the launch of SMART, a free, high-tech tool designed to help combat the wildlife poaching crisis.

SMART, which stands for Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, is an open-source, non-proprietary software system meant for rangers working on the ground.

"This new system will ensure rangers in the field have the best training and most sophisticated tools they need to patrol wild places threatened by well-armed and well-funded criminals illegally killing off wildlife across the globe," David Wilkie, Director of Conservation Support for the Wildlife Conservation Society, was quoted as saying in a press release. "We need to provide our rangers with the smartest technology to effectively stop the high level of poaching now killing off tigers, elephants, gorillas, rhinoceros, turtles and other endangered species."

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According to the WCS, here are just a few of SMART's functions:

  • collects field and intelligence data to provide timely and accurate information on where, how and by whom poaching, illegal logging and other direct threats to biodiversity are occurring;
  • enables rapid feedback and communication between protected-area managers and front-line enforcement staff;
  • measures the impact of anti-poaching efforts in order to judge which tactics yield the best results;
  • provides information to government agencies to assess cost-effectiveness of law enforcement efforts.

"SMART is a tool that has tremendous potential to tackle wildlife crime, and while we are excited about this potential, we recognize that the right people -- rangers, local law enforcement and governments -- need to be in the driving seat,” said Barney Long, manager of Asian species conservation at World Wildlife Fund. “The success of SMART depends on support from grassroots to the global community and WWF stands ready to help."

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Jean-Christophe Vié, Director of SOS ( Save Our Species) said: "All members of the SOS partnership, along with other donors, decided unanimously to fund this effort for two reasons: first a consortium of the largest conservation organizations are behind it and, second, given that poachers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques, we absolutely need to provide the best possible tools and use the latest technology to those people fighting everyday to preserve wildlife around the world. We call on other donors to join us in supporting SMART, and countries and conservation groups to adopt it."

© 2012 Discovery Channel

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