Tracking the Wild is a smartphone app and interactive website that enables you to document and share wildlife sightings whilst on your African safari.
Soruce: Tracking the Wild
Runs offline: partially
Last update: Android 27/07/2016 (v. 0.66) – iOS 03/05/2016 (v. 1.6)
Website of the developer: Tracking the Wild
Notes: article updated on 30/07/2016
Tracking the Wild is a social platform to share sightings of wildlife that can be done in parks and natural reserves of Africa. The application includes natural areas of 5 African countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
An account with a username and password is needed to use the app, although in the iOS devices is possible to use the app without complete this step (you can’t access to all features).
The app’s content is distributed as follows:
- 3 tabs at bottom that give access to list of sightings (“List”), which is displayed as a news feed; a map where sightings (“Map”) are geolocated; and a search option filtered by park or natural area, category (birds, mammals…), species, date, etc.
- 3 icons at the upper right enabling a search by name, taking pictures and accessing to the application menu itself.
This latter menu provides access to the settings of the application, the user’s guide, the contact section, new sightings, queries to observations of other users, view wildlife hotspots, etc. The data sheets of the parks and natural areas are also included and it’s possible to download a guide with the most common species and maps for offline consultation. Likewise, these data sheets provide access to contact data, including a specific phone number to report poaching activities, accommodation options, etc.
Regarding to news feed that shows the latest wildlife observations, when you click on it, a detailed data sheet in which it can make comments, give opinions or ask doubts is displayed. The article on this species available on Wikipedia (can be accessed offline) and the georeferenced point where the sighting took place is also included. It’s interesting to point out that the geographical information is left hidden when the species are vulnerable or endangered, the observation is made out of bounds the protected area or the sighting is unidentified. Data collected through the application are also employed by the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town and become part of Virtual Museum, a citizen science platform.
Images: Screenshots 08/02/2016. ©Tracking the Wild
Tracking the Wild is a tool that combines a citizen science project to collect data about African wildlife and a social network to know the natural areas of the countries included in the app, the accommodation options, make consultations, etc. Although it is a project focusing on the African continent, “the concept of Tracking the Wild can be replicated on a global scale” as says Natalie White, creator of the application with her husband John, on the web Ventureburn. In fact, the backend of the platform has been designed with this idea in mind.
The application highlights for its ability to consult numerous data offline, although the maps are very simple, limited in most cases to mark out the zone’s boundaries and the main roads that cross it. It would be interesting to locate the accommodations geographically, for example, or point out other facilities of interest. Likewise, it might be useful to include an option to delete the downloaded data when you finish the trip in order to free up space on your mobile device, since it is not clear where they are stored the maps and guides. Of particular interest is the option to hide the location of endangered species to hinder the activity of poachers (in fact, all sightings of rhinos are deleted). This is an aspect lacking in most of the applications for recording wildlife observations. The importance of this option is clear when, as The Guardian published in January 2016, poachers are using scientific publications to find populations of endangered species with which to trade.