Zoomph Enriches Data to Revive Wildlife in Gorongosa National ParkSeptember 15, 2015
We all love doing our bit for the environment. Some of us do it by volunteering at national parks, some do it by fundraising. At Zoomph, we found a unique way that combines our passion for wildlife with our expertise at collecting ordinary data and enriching it for better research and education.
The WildCam Gorongosa Lion Project
Situated in the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley in Mozambique, the Gorongosa National Park is a spectacular 4,000-square kilometer preserve with some of the densest wildlife populations in all of Africa, including charismatic carnivores, herbivores and over 500 bird species.
However, once a superb animal-spotting destination, the park’s animal population was severely affected by the Mozambican War of Independence, followed by the 15-year civil war in Mozambique. Having wiped out many species from the region, the latter was especially damaging to the large-animal populations of the biodiverse park. It is only in recent years that the scientific community started rallying efforts to restore the park.
“The Wildcam Gorongosa Project” is one such effort. This project is a scientific mission for discovering and cataloging all the animal species within the park. The project has placed 50 trail cameras at strategic locations throughout the park. These cameras will snap a picture every time they sense movement within their viewing range. These photographs are then cataloged by scientists who are aided by a crowd-sourced effort, due to the scale of the project.
The benefit? Ecologists, environmentalists and conservationists now have a wealth of information and insight into data such as species/season/time/location/environment that allow for analysis in ways like never before. So far, we have processed 200,000+ photographs from the trail cameras installed in Mozambique using the cataloging process we initiated.
Zoomph’s Role in Restoring the Gorongosa National Park
For this project, Zoomph partnered with Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) – a philanthropy focused on biomedical research and science education. They, in turn, partnered with the Gorongosa Restoration Project and the Mozambique government to sustain the restoration of the park.
Using an Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure backbone, Zoomph collected field data and provided the scientific community at HHMI with content moderation and sophisticated query, analytics and visualization tools.
“Zoomph and Amazon Web Services have been an invaluable partner to HHMI as part of our ongoing efforts to revive the war-torn Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. With their support, HHMI is now able to provide scientists, conservationists and educators with vast amounts of crowd-curated field data, coupled with tools and analysis to manage revitalization efforts effectively.” – Bridget Conneely, Ecologist & Science Education Fellow HHMI
The details of how we are contributing to this cause:
- Providing HHMI administrators with a data-cleansing and moderation interface
- Auto-cataloging photographs with seasonal, time, location and environmental conditions
- Integrating with crowdsourcing application to allow cataloging of species in photographs at scale
- Providing scientists with the capability to query and catalog photographs
- Providing scientists with powerful analytics to understand animal behavior patterns on multi-faceted data spanning seasons, time, location, environment and species
- Providing curated visualizations for educators to build awareness for revitalization efforts
Phase one of this project focuses on the lion population in the park, but we are excited at the prospect of implementing this for other animals projects too. After all, we love all animals equally
“The WildCam Gorongosa project is a revolutionary managed approach to restoring a damaged magical place on our planet. Zoomph is honored to participate and contribute to this amazing program.” – Thomas Mathew, Chief Product Officer, Zoomph
How can YOU participate in this project and help?
Begin by heading over to wildcamgorongosa.org. Once there, you will see an image from one of the park’s cameras. Study the picture carefully and determine some key facts – which animal(s) do you see in the picture? What are they doing? Do you spot offspring? Are the animals in a group? These are the some of the questions that you as a WildCam citizen scientist will answer.
Are you ready to go on an adventure in Gorongosa? Get involved now at wildcamgorongosa.org, and be sure to join us and the scientists on WildCam Gorongosa Talk to chat about your discoveries. By joining the project, you will not only work with researchers to help track the recovery of animals; but also help write the next chapter in this amazing wildlife comeback story.
So get set and travel to the most remote corners of the park and start spotting some of Africa’s most beautiful animals today! Your help will go a long way in restoring wildlife at the park.
“Every individual matters.
Every individual has a role to play.
Every individual makes a difference.”
— Jane Goodall
Happy searching! And, don’t forget to tweet us at @Zoomph to let us know of your adventures.