Paul G. Allen – A Conservation Visionary

Influenced by a myriad people, policies and organizations, wildlife conservation is complex and multi-faceted.  From the well-trained boots on the ground to the demand reduction initiatives in distant foreign markets, wildlife contraband continues to be a major global market – albeit an illegal one. Consequently, the conservation world and the organizations working to protect wild spaces and biodiversity often focus on specific aspects of conservation, ranging from protected area management organizations implementing conservation at the rock-face to those dedicated to raising funds or to changing the mind-sets of an ill-informed general public.

Very few organizations have the vision and capacity to positively influence multiple facets of this challenging conservation dilemma, and to address a variety of wildlife conservation needs in the process.  However, Paul G. Allen and his philanthropic impact organization Vulcan Inc. have been quietly doing just this for decades.  Recently, the Grumeti Fund – in conjunction with Vulcan Inc. – hosted the Vulcan Inc. EarthRanger (formerly known as DAS) conference at Grumeti. Over 35 leading protected area managers and field conservationists from the Grumeti Fund, African Parks, Lewa, Northern Rangelands Trust, Wildlife Conservation Society, Frankfurt Zoological Society and many more leading African conservation organizations came together to discuss how this innovative conservation technology could further develop to enhance and positively impact on-the-ground conservation in Africa.

EarthRanger is in essence a domain awareness system that works to collect, collate and visualize real time law enforcement and biological field data. Ranging from research data and human-wildlife conflict information to law enforcement data and anti-poaching incidents, protected area managers now have real time data at their fingertips to make more informed management choices. Quick and effective decision-making results from accurately knowing what is happening where and when – a shift away from the old system where information and data and assets were only accounted for on a weekly basis!  As EarthRanger continues to develop, it is becoming an increasingly important backbone to protected area management, helping organizations to be far more targeted and proactive rather than reactive.

EarthRanger is only one of Vulcan Inc and Paul G. Allen’s initiatives for wildlife conservation.  Others include  pan-African projects, such as the Great Elephant Census: a research project that has completely transformed what people know and the way they think about the plight of elephants.  Using this interest and knowledge Vulcan has also produced movies, such as “The Ivory Game”, which translates a serious conservation dilemma into a gripping documentary that the general public can relate to. This film has undoubtedly changed many minds and increased global awareness about the poaching pandemic sweeping Africa.

Paul’s vision spanned beyond one place, one organization or one issue. His ideas and impact were all-encompassing, and this has led the conservation world to a new place where collaboration is critical and knowledge sharing is encouraged.  Thank you to Paul and to Vulcan Inc. for your commitment to protecting Africa’s wild places and for partnering with the Grumeti Fund, thereby enabling us to develop and evolve faster. We look forward to our continued involvement with Vulcan Inc. and are excited to be working together to optimize the various conservation technology projects we are jointly developing now and in the future.