Saving Chimpanzees, One App at a Time
Who doesn’t love mobile apps? They make life easier and are so much fun to use. Working with chimpanzees at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, I can’t help but think of how mobile apps could help create awareness. Imagine a mobile application developed to allow you to take photos of chimpanzees and get all the information on them immediately. The information could include the chimpanzees name, history, general details about chimpanzees and how you can take action to help prevent chimpanzees from becoming extinct.
Information is a powerful tool for change and the application could be used to not only educate on chimpanzees but to educate on environmental destruction and the effects this has on plants and animals worldwide. App users would be encouraged to respect and take stewardship of the natural world and the animals within it. The information would be readily available for sharing via social networking sites – reaching audiences far and wide.
The level of awareness regarding rhino poaching is such that rhinos now have an international day celebrating them. With an application giving users information on great apes and enabling them to share we could soon have a World Great Ape Day to celebrate our closest living relatives!
Technology could be used for more than just awareness; it could be used to protect great apes in their habitat. Through Dr. Jane Goodall’s research, it was discovered that chimpanzees communicate just like humans and one of the ways they communicate is through sounds and calls. Why not use these chimpanzee vocalizations to protect them? Microphones that link to a central system could be placed around wild chimpanzee territories. A computer system would then listen to the sounds and identify what each means. Once the computer system recognizes a chimpanzee distress sound, it would send a message to rangers alerting them of the danger. This system would alert authorities on possible poaching or illegal logging activities.
Four years ago, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy made headlines all over the world. We had an elephant that could send text messages! Thanks to a pioneering project by Save the Elephants, Kimani’s collar was placed with a SIM card that would alert rangers in the Conservancy whenever he got close the community fence. This innovative idea saved both the farmers crops and the elephant’s life. I have no doubt technology can be used to save great apes too. Thanks to GRASP-UNEP’s blogging competition that is looking for ways technology can save great apes, maybe Ol Pejeta will get a chance to make headlines again with a technological advancement helping chimpanzees or as the testing ground for another innovative idea mentioned by other contestants.