In September 1996 the first prototype of the CyberTracker was tested in the Karoo National Park, South Africa. Karel Benadie (photo) was the first tracker to use the CyberTracker and played an integral role in the design of the user interface.
Although they cannot read or write, Karel Benadie and James Minye used the CyberTracker to record their observations in the field and download the data onto the PC by themselves. They demonstrated that they were able to use the computer independently.
The main objective of the project was to monitor the highly endangered Desert Black Rhino. The data they collected were very detailed. For example, shifts in rhino feeding behaviour could be seen every two months, shifting from the rainy season through to the dry season. Benadie and Minye have published their first article (co-authored with Louis Liebenberg and Lindsay Steventon), on “Rhino Tracking with the CyberTracker Field Computer”(see below).
In addition they recorded tracks of rare or nocturnal species that were not normally monitored. They recorded virtually everything in the veld that they found interesting. This type of data may make it possible to monitor long term trends that would not otherwise be noticed at all.
Field tests indicated that a tracker can generate more than 100 observations in one day. One computer could therefore generate more than 20 000 observations in a year.