At Internet of Elephants, we are developing games to make wildlife a part of daily life for millions of people around the world. We love discovering other games, apps and initiatives created by like minded people who share the same mission. Here is a list of some of my favorite nature and wildlife apps, that I believe more people should try!
Unlike the usual ‘doom and gloom’ stories that have become the mainstay of conservation messaging, these games change the narrative and have the potential to be effective in driving a far more motivated conservation action by involving a much larger audience.
1. iNaturalist App | Category: Citizen science project
Who should try it: Anyone interested in stepping outdoors and observing nature. Ideally suited for kids and parents.
Why: What I really love about the app is that it really gets us outdoor to explore and creates a child-like curiosity to keenly observe and notice even the smallest life forms around us, which otherwise would have been non-existent.
Imagine 600,000 pairs of human eyes around the world, getting outdoor and keenly observing the natural world wherever they go. From the common house sparrow to the rare atlas moth, all such backyard observations are shared through the app. These observations are then identified and documented by the larger community connected through the app. Created by The California Academy of Sciences, iNaturalist is a citizen science project, and by far one of the most engaged community of naturalists – researchers and nature enthusiasts alike. With 8 million observations and 150,000 different species identified, it is a powerful data of biodiversity observations from around the world. It demonstrates the strength of tech and collaboration.
2. BeastBox – Wildlife DJ | Category: Creative learning game.
Who should try it: Karaoke fans! Again this is for anyone who appreciates the magical sounds of nature.
Why: I can assure you this is an amazing stress buster…entertaining, addictive and equally informative! Who doesn’t love the sound of nature? – flowing water, wind blowing through leaves and most of all the songs and sounds of birds, insects and animals.
Imagine being a Wildlife DJ, mixing the calls of different animals and making some peppy hip-hop music in the process! And while you have fun mixing real animal sounds along with the ecosystem track created from sounds recorded in their six ecosystems, you get to learn so much more about the different species and their respective habitats. Sound artist, explorer and wildlife DJ, Ben Mirin teamed up with Cornell Lab of Ornithology to create this ingenious creative learning game that allows users to explore nature through sound and find their own creative inspirations for conservation through it.
3. Elephant Expedition | Category: Citizen science project
Who should try it: Elephant lovers! If you love going for wildlife safaris and watching elephants in the wild, then this is the closest to a virtual safari that you can get. Counting elephants can’t get better than this... And we just love anything and everything that has an ‘elephant’ in it.
Why: Observing elephants in their natural environment can be one of the most enriching moments in the wild. You could spend hours just watching a herd, how they protect their young ones, how they interact with each other - not very different from human society. Ellie-Expedition is possibly the closest that you can come to this experience of observing and counting African forest elephants in the wild through camera trap images.
It is like going on a virtual safari, sifting through thousands of images of elephants and other wildlife from Central African rainforest and helping scientists and researchers classify the millions of pictures their camera traps capture throughout the year. Ten thousand people around the world classifying 3 million images and identifying 700, 000 animals in a span of 10 months is definitely an impressive feat. Credit and kudos to ecologist Anabelle Cardoso for this wonderful citizen science project connecting users from around the world with the Ellies of Gabon.
4. eMammal Lite | Category: Citizen science project
Who should try it: This is for you if you are a fan of candid camera and love watching and observing animals as they go about their daily routines, undisturbed.
Why: This could be your daily dose of nature and wildlife, watching and classifying animals from images captured from camera traps placed in forests around the world.
Catch a bear in the act! A fun citizen science project and archive for camera trap research projects from around the world. Getting to see what animals do when they think no one is looking, can be so hilarious. eMammal lite is one such fun project that lets users tag animals from camera trap images and learn more interesting information like location and geographic distribution of the species correctly identified. Credits : NC State university.
5. Virry VR | Category: Creative learning app.
Who should try it: Anyone who wants to experience African wildlife up close and personal, in their living room.
Why: The immersive VR experience puts you right in the centre of the action and allows you to virtually engage with real African animals. It is a great new way to experience interact and connect with wildlife.
Filmed in 4K VR at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, using strategically placed high-definition cameras, Virry VR creates a safari-like experience which also allows the user to control aspects of the narrative – sharing a mud bath with a rhino, getting licked by a lion, feeding a cheetah. With three live cameras broadcasting from the site, Virry VR is available for PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and Gear VR, giving an impressive experience of meeting real wild animals up-close in their natural habitat
I will keep updating and adding to this list as we discover more. Have you come across other such interesting and fun games, apps or tools that connect people with nature and wildlife? Share your favourites with us in comments below.