Got bored kids? Or just kids that love animals? They can become citizen scientists and help track Giraffes and other animals! If your kids are younger this is definitely something you’ll want to do with them as you will be helping actual research scientists. Your kids can learn to identify new animals, learn about conservation, and do some good. Hopefully, it will be some good bonding time as well!
I first heard about this opportunity when I took my toddler to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. If you’ve never been, it’s absolutely amazing. You can ride a tram that takes you around enclosures that are acres wide where animals roam freely. It’s an amazing place that works hard to help ensure these animals will still be around for our great grandchildren to see.
One animal species that is surprisingly experiencing declines in their population in the wild are Giraffes. According to zooniverse.org in the last 20 years, one species of Giraffe has seen a 70% decline in their population and only about 9,000 are left in the wild today. To combat this research scientists have put up cameras all over the natural home of Giraffes in Kenya. These 100 motion-activated cameras take pictures of animals. They are then collected and the memory chips replaced so they can take more photos!
How you can help as a citizen scientist
100 cameras as you can imagine results in a lot of photos. That’s where you can come in. The research group needs help sorting through the photos and identifying what’s in them. Then they can keep the ones containing useful information and add them to their study materials. Through these photos, they hope to learn more about the behavior and population numbers of wild Giraffes so they can help the species to survive.
To help the scientists out you’ll need to go to WildWatchKenya.org to start sorting through photos. There are similar projects you can help out with on the projects page of Zooniverse.org. You can help track penguins, orangutans and many more. What a great way to teach your kids to love and save animals and keep them from being “bored all summer”. As I mentioned above, the tasks are simple, so even your younger kids can help you out!
Fair warning, you will view and classify a lot of “nothing here” photos. With the cameras taking photos constantly they often take photos of gorgeous grasslands, but no animals. That makes it all the more special when you do find one. I think I went through about 20 photos before I spotted an animal. Sometimes you get lucky and find animals more frequently. I’ve even spotted a couple Giraffes as well as Zebras, Impala, and lots of birds! And don’t worry, there is a field guide you can access on the right-hand side of the screen. This will show you photos of the animals you are likely to find so you can identify them correctly when you spot them.
Our kids will only get to know and love animals and our planet if they get to see it. These projects can help bring animals into your living room. They can experience conservation in a meaningful way and actually be a part of something bigger than themselves. Kids are never too young to start learning these valuable lessons.