Smart Patrol Technique for
Protected Area Management
Valuable natural resources in protected areas cannot survive without strong protection. Patrol is globally proven as an essential form of protection to valuable resources in protected areas, especially species of high commercial value. Sadly, many such species have been severely diminished or extirpated from protected areas where park rangers are available. Managers and conservation scientists have tried to modernize patrol activity with science and technology to help park ranger cope with the current and impending situation. In Thailand, this development was named, “Smart Patrol System” together with a patrol database called, “SMART” (Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool). It aims to equip park rangers and managers with information and technology to better protect areas, boost their morale, and instill a sense of pride in their duty. The ultimate purpose is to guarantee that species and the intrinsic value provide can forever survive the greedy demands and indifferences in our human society.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Thailand Program, trainers from the Special Training Division 2 – Border Patrol Police Bureau, and Special Operation Division – Crime Investigation Center Provincial Police Region 3 have continuously arranged trainings under the Strengthen Law Enforcement System using Smart Patrol Techniques for Protected Area Management Project in two target levels.
1. Operation Level
The operation level rangers are trained both in theory and practical application for “best practice” field patrol with the newest technology. The training lesson includes: physical strength practice, patrol techniques (e.g. encounter and confrontation skills), first aid training, weapons use and maintenance, map reading, and GPS and compass use. In addition, lessons also have other training including: wildlife tracks and signs identification, wildlife data form use, threat recording and other data collection, and the use of digital cameras to collect evidence of threats and wildlife encountered during patrol.
Park rangers are also contributing to the quality of the patrol by direct communication at the monthly patrol meetings. This engagement with other supporters can give park rangers a strong sense of self-esteem. They can maintain their smart performance on smart patrol for securing the future of wildlife and its habitat.
The Smart Patrol manual which is used in training.
2. Management Level
The training in management level aims to enhance the power of information and “good governance” for site protection management. The officers in management level will understand the overall idea of the Smart Patrol System. And SMART is introduced to support a site management plan based on the collection of field patrol data.
The training lesson includes: introduction of current crisis, significance of Smart Patrol System, data structure of SMART database, how to analyze and report data, and a presentation from the SMART program.
Important Next Steps
In Thailand the system has been in place since 2006. It started in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and then later expanded into Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary. These sanctuaries are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and situated in the "core area", one of the largest protected area systems in mainland Southeast Asia. The system also has been used in the biggest national park in Thailand, Kaeng Krachan National Park. Together, this large, intact forest of western Thailand is also connected with huge forests in Myanmar, and the whole system represents a hopeful future for tigers, elephants, and many other endangered and threatened species.
Due to the fact that results in Huai Kha Khaeng and Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuaries operating under this system have shown a clear decrease in poaching pressure inside the areas the DNP is scaling up the system and implementing in other key wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The idea is to equip the most diverse wildlife sanctuary and national park in each protected forest complex with the Smart Patrol System. Then, we will use the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks as a training base to expand the system into other protected areas within the same forest complex.