New Citizen Science Tool to Record Birds of Prey Sightings Across Africa

Abu Dhabi, 7 July 2014 – A new smartphone application (App) to record raptor sightings throughout Africa is launched today.  Developed by Habitat Info,in collaboration with the CMS Raptors MoU, this user-friendly, free-of-charge application enables birdwatchers, naturalists and members of the public to capture information offline on their Android phones and tablets anywhere.

Habitat Info has pioneered the development of the African Raptor DataBank (ARDB), which is a non-profit, citizen science project that aims to inspire and empower birdwatchers and other observers to record and submit information about any birds of prey they see in Africa.  The Coordinating Unit of Raptors MoU is actively supporting this important project, which should help reveal the conservation status of raptors and the state of their habitats throughout the African continent. These data can now be collected in the field using Android devices without the need for a cellular network or access to the internet.  When a connection becomes available, the observations will be uploaded to a live data observatory housed on a server in Wales, United Kingdom.  From here the data will be analysed to model the abundance of each species and to help identify and monitor the health of their habitats across one of the most biologically rich yet vulnerable continents on Earth.

Raptors are one of the most sensitive indicators of ecosystem health. They are the first creatures to decline or be lost from our skies when something is amiss lower down in the food chain.  More than 75% of all raptor species worldwide occur in Africa.  But there are huge knowledge gaps, concerning species distribution and ecology during the breeding season, whilst on migration, and in the wintering areas of many species.  Casual observations and data from surveys and monitoring projects are all required to enhance baseline information which will enable better targeted conservation programmes to be established.

The new African Raptor Observations’App allows data for the ARDB to be captured offline for the first time, which means that it can be used anywhere, even in parts of Africa where no internet access is currently available.  This will ease the recording process and should encourage greater use of the database by the general public, ornithologists, researchers, residents and tourists alike.

In addition to the CMS Raptors MoU, the phone app is also sponsored by The Peregrine Fund and Kurt Eckerstrom.

The free ARDB Android App is downloadable now here.  Habitat Info’s Press Release is here.

A similar iPhone application is being developed for release later this year.

Last updated on 29 January 2015