Helping Save Animals From Your Computer

Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

On March 7th, we met with two presenters who work for the Institute for Conservation Research, Jenna Stacy-Dawes and Nikki Egna. Ms. Stacy-Dawes has her masters in Conservation Education while Ms. Egna just finished her undergraduate degree in environmental science. Throughout their presentation, they taught us their important roles in reticulated giraffe conservation.

In her day-to-day job, Ms. Stacy-Dawes educates the public, takes part in overseeing the giraffe conservation project, as well as spending time in Kenya conducting community-based conservation and research. Ms. Stacy-Dawes is a native San Diegan, and even attended Zoo Corps at the San Diego Zoo when she was a teen. She has always had a huge passion for animals and conservation, which lead her to the job she has today! Although, before she landed her dream job, Ms. Stacy-Dawes had to do a lot of volunteering in organizations and projects to get experience and to form relationships with people. Ms. Egna landed her job similarly. Everyday, Ms Egna does most of the data analysis behind the scenes. Just like Ms. Stacy-Dawes, Ms Egna did a lot of volunteer work and formed great relationships with people, and upon graduation, she went one step further. Shortly after Ms. Egna graduated, she sent emails to many possible employers. Both Ms. Egna and Ms. Stacy-Dawes are good examples of how hard work and dedication often pays off.  

After introduction, Ms. Stacy-Dawes informed us of some very sad facts about the giraffes, and how they are becoming more and more endangered. The major threats that giraffes are facing throughout Kenya are habitat loss, land degradation, and unfortunately, poaching. Often giraffes are poached for their pelts and meat.

Then, Ms. Stacy-Dawes talked about the reserves and conservancies in Kenya that are working to conserve endangered species, like the giraffe. In order to minimize some of the threats giraffes are facing, researchers rely on technology, including satellite trackers. The trackers give researchers a better idea of the movements of the giraffes. We also learned that the research team goes out to communities, and focuses research efforts on conservation education.

But you don’t have to be in Kenya to help out these animals. Ms. Stacy-Dawes showed us how the research team has placed cameras on trails that take pictures of animals. These pictures are then uploaded to a website called WildWatchKenya.org for the public to see. Because there are almost 1,000,000 pictures, it is up to the public to help identify the animals in the photos! With the help of the public, the researchers can spend more time working on other things while still being able to collect the necessary data. All you need is a computer and to follow these steps, and make sure to get your parent’s permission before logging on!

Finding the site:

Step 1: Go to WildWatchKenya.org

Step 2: Register and make a profile

Step 3: In the main bar, select the button at the top of the website tiled “Classify”, here it will set you up with a tutorial as well as a starting picture with a long list of animals. Here, is when we start looking!

Looking for animals:

Step 1: Look at the picture, if there is not an animal in it, then click the button that says “nothing here” and then “done”. If there is an animal in the picture, then it’s time to classify!

Classifying the animal:

Step 1: If it isn’t an animal that you can clearly recognize, there are tools at the top of the list of animals that help narrow down what your animal could be.

Step 2: Click the animal that most resembles the one in the photo

Step 3: Answer the questions about the animal (Ie. Number of animals, interactions of animals)

Step 4: Press “done”

Through this, we can make a difference from our homes!

Throughout our time with Ms. Stacy-Dawes and Ms. Egna, we learned a lot about their involvement with conservation as well as ways that we can help in the fight for conservation.

Lauren, Kids Corner
Week Six, Winter Session 2018

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