MIST stands for Management Information SysTem and was developed as a tool for helping to prevent poaching. It is a GIS (Geographic Information System) that locates all data collected by patrols geographically, allowing the information collected to be presented easily as maps or graphics. By standardising the measures of success, MIST also makes it easy for managers to assess the different levels of success and effort of wildlife patrols over time, between different locations and even between patrol teams.
Measuring a tiger pugmark Implementing MIST has resulted in:
• Better planning of monitoring and patrolling efforts
• Enabling teams to adaptively respond to newly emerging or changing threats
• Standardized assessments of success across sites and over time
How does MIST work?
1. Data Collection
When they are working in the field teams record their patrol routes with GPS (Global Positioning System) units. They also note information on any activity they carry out (e.g. arrests, removal of snares) and log any evidence of the presence of their target species (e.g. tiger, elephant) into specially designed forms.
Snare Locations 2. Data Storage:
The information that the teams put in the forms and the GPS logs is entered into a MIST database, ready for analysis later on.
3. Analysis, Evaluation and Reporting:
Information is pulled out of the MIST database, processed, and presented as graphs, tables, charts and maps. This enables managers to easily compare effort, coverage and results between different patrols, and across time and space.
Regular meetings are held with project staff to discuss the results of the patrolling programmes, new approaches and to set new targets.
Where does ZSL use MIST?
Our work in Thailand is focussed in Salakpra, an area that extends over 1,200km2 and include the Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary, Chalerm Rattanakosin National Park and the Srisawat forest reserve. Salakpra supports around 200 asian elephants, almost 20% of the wild elephants found throught the western forest complex. Sadly, these elephants are fighting for their survival in this area, facing direct threats from retaliatory killings and resource competition (logging, bamboo cutting, cattle grazing, forest fire, forest product collection), and indirectly from bush-meat hunting and dry-season shortages of food and water that prompt the elephants to raid agricultural crops.
In 2010, ZSL and the Elephant Conservation Network
(ECN, our partner organisation in Thailand)
began working with the Department of Nature Conservation, WCS-Thailand and the Border Patrol Police to train Salakpra rangers to use ‘smart’ patrol systems using MIST. The data collected through this system is then used to inform and improve future management in the area. This method of patrolling is now Thai government policy.
In addition to organising training courses and study visits, essential equipment has been provided (GPS units, cameras, patrol kits and boots) for Salakpra’s 15 ranger patrol teams and the patrol unit’s main offices. We also help the patrol units ensure the accuracy of their data logging, and assist with supplementary analysis and reporting to ensure that feedback to local and national management teams feeds into regular reviews and improvements to the smart patrol systems. This initiative has been so successful in Salakpra that we are now supporting the development of similar programmes in Chalerm Rattanakosin National Park. Find out more about our work in Thailand
The world’s largest remaining population of wild Amur Tigers , approximately 400 individuals, can be found in the Russian Far East. Unfortunately, numbers of these majestic animals and the prey on which they depend are in decline, with poaching and habitat loss the most likely culprits. A collaboration between four important natures reserves in the Russian Far East, the Zoological Society of London, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the United States Agency for International Development and the Phoenix fund is aiming to increase the effectiveness of anti-poaching patrols in the area to effectively combat illegal hunting of both Amur Tigers and their prey. The MIST software programme forms an integral part of the patrol monitoring system that is at the heart of this initiative.
Last year Lasovskii Reserve, a focal site for ZSL in the area, was found to be the second most successful site in Russia for the implementation of MIST. The use of the software at this project has helped develop a more strategic approach to both patrol work and law enforcement. Over time, this has shown an improvement in the effectiveness of patrols, leading to an increase in the number of poacher interceptions and consequent citations. The use of this powerful tool to combat poaching in one of the Amur tigers final strongholds increases the chances that this beautiful creature will survive in the wild for many years to come. Find out more aboiut Amur tigers