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A short history of CARINO

CARINO is a database dedicated to the following theme: “The evolution of rhino populations”. Access the database here.

1. Origin of CARINO

CARINO was created by Henri Carpentier (HC), a graduate of the “Ecole des Mines” in Paris, who worked in many countries throughout the world: mainly in Morocco (lead, barite), then in Turkey (chrome, boron), in Madagascar (chrome) and in Australia (uranium).  He also organized missions prospecting for various metals in several other countries. All these geological activities have kept him close to Nature.

Since his retirement, HC got better acquainted with different teams of the “Ecole des Mines” in Paris, more especially those of its Museum of Mineralogy, one of the most important in the world with collections amounting to 100,000 samples. Having observed that this rich set was completely lacking DP means, he gathered for this purpose his own little team of specialists: miners, prospectors, geologists, as well as a webmaster in the person of Michel Kremer, a geology engineer who designed a software package specially adapted to mineral collections, named and patented under the title of “GECOMINES”.  During 10 years of voluntary activity, from 1995 to 2005, the major part of the Museum’s collections was made accessible to all the interested persons via specialized DP tools. All this demonstrates HC’s interest for nature, in the largest sense, and his discovery of  the strength of computerized systems.

2. Creation of CARINO

At the end of his activity at the Museum of Mineralogy, HC searched for a similar study task in the field of zoology. Looking for emblematic but imperfectly known animals, pertaining to a limited number of species and occupying an endangered position at the planet’s scale, he was rapidly led to choose Rhinos.
Michel Kremer once again designed, at his request, a specialized software package well adapted to research work of this kind. The software was dubbed CARINO, in fact a bit too rapidly, because a better name could be CARHINO, in order to suggest both CARPENTIER and RHINO. The primary object was to evaluate rhino populations in time.  

3. Principle and originality of CARINO

Since the work would not be carried out by zoologists, the basic and original principle was to include all fields of research, with the exception of specialized treatises. The aim was to discover all mentions of rhinos: in travel stories, exploration of unknown territories, hunting expeditions, geographical studies, etc. After the evaluation of the contents and the programming tasks, the input of the data into the automated system allows everybody to perform all kinds of information retrieval, by species, by country or area, by size of population, etc. Due to the statistical aspect of the method, this approach offers also a response to the initial problem about the evolution of the populations.   
Of course, CARINO’s principles can be applied to all kinds of animal species, and why not, plant species too.

4. Development and implementation of CARINO

The concept was developed since 1997 by HC, and in 2000 Michel Kremer installed the software.  After encoding, each information source leads to a first screen related to the source itself: nature, author, title, localization and evaluation. Later on, under the same reference number, one or more screens encode for each information item, the IUCN number and status, the accurate localization (geographical coordinates), with a very short note of a possible comment. By the way, one can remark that, even if the study of the source does not allow the explicit identification of rhinos, it is kept in the base with the mention “nothing on rhinos” in order to avoid useless attempts carried out by possible future researchers.
Up to this day ( July 2011 ), CARINO registered in this way more than 750 sources having produced approximately 1600 punctual information items.

5. The encounter with the “Rhino Resource Center”

After this initial step, HC discovered as early as 1999 the work carried out within the universal framework of the IUCN and of its specialist groups dedicated to rhinos from Africa and Asia ( SSC: AfRSG & AsRSG ), which were led, in the latter case, by the most renowned specialists, Thomas J. Foose, Nico van Strien (who died recently) and Kees Rookmaaker. Contact was established contact, in particular with respect to rhinos from the former French territories, especially Indochina, for which documents were lacking. Nico van Strien invited HC to the Netherlands and discussed with him a universal project which resulted in the “Rhino Resource Center”.
Unfortunately, the two systems had not been synchronized since the beginning, and were developed in separate ways, despite an agreement in principle for integrating into the RRC all the interesting materials discovered by CARINO. Thus, it was necessary to wait until 2011 for a successful solution to be found due to the intervention of the webmasters from both sides.

6. Contribution of CARINO to the RRC

All the collected information was first examined by HC in order to get rid of all spurious and/or doubtful information: duplicated inputs, no proved presence of rhinos, recent publications, etc.; in this way, 70% of the sources have not been conserved for integration into the RRC. Then, HC eliminated other 10%  from the existing contents of the RRC, to arrive at a final result of approximately 20% (i.e. 140 items) of the CARINO’s sources being considered as presenting an original contribution and, for this reason, transferred into the RRC.
Nevertheless, since the CARINO reference number has been maintained, RRC users will be allowed to find out the original information in the previous framework of the database, a feature that supports the production of statistics by species, country, period, etc.  

7. Future of CARINO

The aim of the IUCN-SSC, at the moment the creation of the RRC, outstandingly developed by Kees Rookmaaker, was to put together all potential information about rhinos on a worldwide scale ; thus, it would be possible to think that working with the CARINO system was no longer necessary, and so this system had to be stopped for good.
However, zoologists and researchers in other specializations are still given the possibility of discovering new evidences of rhino presence, which can be connected only to a historical past. Even if they become scarce, it would be interesting to integrate them into both the RRC system and the CARINO database, from where information is so easily retrieved. An example could be constituted by the case of Ethiopia, where rhino populations were still abundant until the Italian invasion of 1936, but practically disappeared afterwards, without leaving any reliable trace.          

H. Carpentier (July 2011)

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