Project: Instant Wild
Ever heard of camera traps? These fully-automated motion-sensitive devices have always been an important tool for wildlife conservation organizations. But it wasn’t until November 2011, and the launch of the Instant Wild App by Zoological Society of London (ZSL), that these devices became the center of a massive, yet a highly unique citizen-science project. Unlike most traditional wildlife conservation initiatives, all you need to do to volunteer is download the Instant Wild app on your smartphone. The app uses GSM-enabled camera traps and satellite connectivity to transmit live photographs of animals to your phone in real time, allowing you to remotely observe, monitor and learn about wildlife populations.
By analyzing the photographs and identifying rare or endangered species, you can help conservation scientists at ZSL and their partners understand and protect wildlife population. The Instant Wild citizen science app also features a Field Guide and an identification list for each location alongside photographs of the animals, to help users recognize and distinguish the various species that they spot. The locations where these camera traps have been installed primarily include the several ZSL field project sites. Contributions made by citizen scientists from all over the world help scientists gain instant access to information regarding the population of endangered species and allows them to analyze this data faster.
The beauty of the Instant Wild app lies in the fact that it relies on a non-invasive technique. The camera traps do not intrude or disrupt the natural environment or habitat of the animals, but rather enable researchers and conservation scientists to gain direct understanding into the lives of somewhat elusive, and perhaps even shy, wild animals via hidden cameras – animals that would be too difficult to approach otherwise. Latest versions of the Instant Wild citizen science app offer a variety of features that allow users to engage in creative ways, such as the option to comment on images, the ability to choose and follow specific camera traps, getting additional information on the projects they are contributing to as well as viewing their current ranking in terms of wildlife identification count and speed as compared to other participants.
Instant Wild brings the joys and wonders of witnessing wildlife up close to smartphones across the world, allowing citizen scientists, wild-life enthusiasts and conservation scientists to share this unique experience with each other and embark on a global citizen science project as a team. The app is fairly simple to use and is available for download on both iOS and Android. Those of you who don’t own a smartphone can simply go to the Instant Wild website and start identifying species and right away.