Old cell phones are modified so they can be recharged with solar panels. These are placed 40 meters high, in the treetops. Photo: Courtesy Humberto Castillo / Jocotoco Foundation Isabel Alarcón Editor (I) READ ALSO Old cell phones are becoming the new guardians of nature.

An international project, now carried out in Ecuador, promotes the reuse of these devices to monitor the last forest of Chocó. The telephones are placed on top of the trees.

From there they capture all the sounds that are produced in a radius of one kilometer and transmit them in real time. This allows us to know which species are in the area and detect any abnormal activity, such as illegal logging or hunting. Michael Moens, director of Conservation of the Jocotoco Foundation, explains that since last month they started using this system in the Canandé Reserve, located in Esmeraldas.

The system was developed by Rainforest Connection, an international organization that promotes this initiative in different parts of the world. According to the organization, the project began in 2014 to fight against deforestation in countries such as Peru, Brazil and Cameroon. Moens says that last year he had a meeting with the director of Rainforest Connection, who was interested in the efforts being made in Canandé to protect the last remnants of the Chocó forest.

After obtaining the financing, the first four cell phones were installed in the key points of this place, where it is complicated to patrol daily. These phones, which are more than 10 years old, are modified for use. In addition, they work with a battery, which is recharged with solar panels, which are also installed in the trees.

To place these devices, specialists must climb a height of 40 meters. Moens says that this system also detects chainsaw sounds and gunfire. The moment you perceive these activities, it sends a direct alarm to the rangers of the reserve.

In the next few months, eight more cell phones will be installed in Canandé, which covers an area of ​​7,000 hectares. The idea is to protect this site, which is a ‘hotspot’ of the world’s biodiversity.

There, you can find more than 60 species of birds and inhabit animals that do not exist in another area of ​​the planet. The system has allowed registering the presence of threatened fauna, such as the greater green macaw and the brown-headed spider monkey.

Cell phones also work to inform about the presence of new species. People can be part of the monitoring through the website of the foundation. (I) 



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