So, your iPhone's a-buzzin'. Sure, it could be your great-aunt Sue emailing you about something neat she saw on the intertubes, or it just might be an extremely elusive African lion striking a candid pose -- but only if you have the cool new app called Instant WILD. Biologists from the Zoological Society of London released a fascinating bit of software which transmits images from motion-sensing cameras in Kenya to your smartphone whenever a creature wanders into view, effectively digitizing an important conservation tool and crowdsourcing the search for as-yet-undiscovered species.
Camera traps have been used for years as way of recording animals in remote regions with minimal disruption -- and has even returned images of species so rare as to never have been photographed before. As you might imagine, sorting through and identifying all the snapshots captured by these cameras would normally be quite time-intensive for biologists; that's why they're enlisting the help of the iPhone-owning public.
So far, cameras have been set up in Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia, in regions where biologists suspect some undocumented species may be lurking, just waiting to have their photos snapped. When an animal wanders into view, folks with the Instand WILD app are alerted on their smartphones and invited to either identify the creature as a known species or not.
"By asking people to help us identify species through the app, we are turning wildlife conservation into the massive team effort that it needs to be," says Jonathan Baillie, conservation director for the Zoological Society of London, via New Scientist.
For those who want to assist in the conservation effort, but who are without a fancy iPhone, worry not -- you can help as well by visiting Instand WILD's website here.
And who knows, maybe great-aunt Sue would like it too.