When Apps Go Wild

Project: Wildsense

If you’re interested in either wildlife or games, there’s a new app made just for you.

Wildsense is a new app for the iPad that creators Aaron Mason and Paul Krause from the University of Surrey hope will “change the way wildlife is monitored in the future.” The app is a game that loads animal photos from the web; it is currently focused on tigers. Players like you will analyze the photos to determine if there is a real tiger in the image, or just something with the word “tiger” associated with it (e.g., Tiger Woods or a stuffed tiger). The data you provide about images of real tigers in the wild is then collected and analyzed to study animal behavior.

“Thousands of tourists visit India’s tiger reserves every year and load their photographs on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram,” states the WIldsense website. “This is a valuable and under-used source of data about tiger movements and habitats, which could provide important information about the activities of poachers if tigers go missing.” The app also analyzes photos from camera traps located in various reserves.

According to Aaron Mason, ““People love to share photos online and the information about wildlife through these channels is vast and potentially very useful. We decided to turn this social data into a game that consolidates information on endangered animals and lets wildlife enthusiasts have a direct impact on welfare in an interactive way.”

So far the game has already been played thousands of times, with top players on the leaderboard racking up hundreds of “gems,” the game’s method of keeping score.

“Monitoring top predators such as tigers provides an important indication of habitat quality, as well as gaining insight into these beautiful animals themselves. The Wildsense app is an important step forward in our programme of developing methods to track wild animals without resorting to intrusive physical tags or collars”, said Professor Paul Krause.

For more information, check out the site’s blog.

Chandra Clarke is a Webby Honoree-winning blogger, a successful entrepreneur, and an author. Her book Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science is available at Amazon. You can connect with her on Twitter @chandraclarke.