IPhones and Conservation? Attention Naturalist Journey’s Kenya Tour Participants, Grab Your Phones!

Leopard Hunting Squirrels

IPhones, Apple and Conservation?  Who would ever connect an IPhone App with Kenya and its majestic BIG cats.  In this month’s online Science News (Nov. 14th), I read that an IPhone App can be used by visitors on safari. Hidden cameras report IMAGES, but it’s on the ground guides and groups that can determine just what species it is, saving wildlife managers valuable time.  Pretty cool.  Our Naturalist Journeys group will be in Kenya, Feb. 5-19, with a keen eye out for Leopards and other species and I’m sending out a note today to all our participants with IPhones, load the app and bring it along!  Leopards rank as near-threatened on the IUCN Red-List .  One of the biggest challenges of running a Natural History tour company is keeping abreast of events in places that we visit, places that matter tremendously while our tour group is there, but can then slip off to the sideline as we move on to the next trip rotates on the calendar. Before our trip, I’ll search out updates on a host of the species we find.  Lines like “Leopards have vanished from almost 40% of their historic range” in a recent Natural History Magazine article (a quote from the New York-based conservation group Panthera’s president Luke Hunter), remind me that this challenge is vitally important. Through our Africa wildlife tours, people come face to face with threatened cats, canids and other predators.  On safari, we lead them to experiences that create a bond, a connection; it’s our hope that they will continue to care, to take the step to get involved.  This important article points to long-standing threats to Africa’s wild species: loss of habitat, conflict with livestock, and illegal trade in skins and body parts. But it also reveals the growing direct competition of man and beast, as markets for “bushmeat” abound.Kenya is the first country I visited in Africa, and twenty years later, and it still retains a strong pull on me.  I can’t wait to return in February; you could join me!  We have space for three more to join our custom safari with Preston Mutinda; we have flights that you can join us on to ease the trip over, and we’d love to see you try the new IPHONE app if we get in range of one of the motion-sensing cameras near Amboseli.  I’ll be looking further into just where they are located. In the meantime, you can download the free app at the ITunes store, or at the fascinating Edge of Existence website.  What will Apple think of next that can benefit conservation!

A Leopard Engrossed in its Task

Photos by Peg Abbott, owner and guide, Naturalist Journeys, LLC

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