A Wild Ride: IT Projects for Endangered Species

Sandra Swanson

Something wild is happening with conservation IT projects. Sensors, big data and drones are helping global not-for-profit organizations track populations and identify threats to some of the world's most endangered animals. These ambitious projects aim to stop ruthless poachers and preserve dwindling habitats—all in an attempt to save at-risk species from extinction.

And the need for high-tech help is urgent. The earth's wild vertebrae population was more than halved between 1970 and 2010, according to a 2014 report by global wildlife preservation group World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as WWF. And an estimated 41 percent of amphibian species and 26 percent of mammal species are threatened by extinction, according to 2015 data published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature based in Gland, Switzerland.

The goals of IT conservation projects range from protecting elephants and rhinoceroses in Africa to preserving bumblebees and sea turtles in North America. And the risks these projects face are just as varied. Whether they're battling natural forces, corruption or uncooperative animals, project managers must fall back on the fundamentals.

“Conservation projects need to apply project management methodologies, because the unpredictable scenario is very much a part of [these] projects,” says Elena Bulmer, PMP, biodiversity …

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