Shooting the endangered kea

The Kea Conservation Trust
A recently-released app allows locals and tourists to identify and help protect New Zealand’s endangered kea. A GPS navigator within the ‘Wildlife Tracker’ app means whenever anyone (from a bird enthusiast to a tourist) takes a photo of the endangered kea and uploads it through the app, information is sent to The kea Conservation Trust about when and where the bird was found.

With its olive-green feathers and magnificent orange under-wing, the kea is a symbol of the South Island and is known for its intelligence and curiosity.  The world’s only alpine parrot, the kea has been fully protected by the New Zealand Government since 1986. However, with less than 5000 in the wild, the species is still considered at risk.

Wildlife Tracker was developed by web/app development consultancy Boost New Media.  Boost’s general manager Kirstin Donaldson says the company created the app after a meeting with Kea Conservation Trust director Tamsin Orr-Walker at the recent Start-Up Weekend in Queenstown. 

Donaldson says Boost was inspired by the opportunity to develop an app that could identify and protect the kea.

“We believe in protecting wildlife and as the Kea Conservation Trust would not be able to afford to develop the app without assistance, it was a great opportunity to get involved.”

The app is simple to use, and is loaded with tools to help identify and track the native bird, along with other wildlife within New Zealand bushes. When the user opens the app, they have three options: take a photo, submit a photo from their picture library or view a species list.

Once a photo is captured or submitted, the app takes the user to a list of birds and animals endangered in New Zealand, from there users are able to select the animal they have photographed.   The information gathered is directly submitted into an email, which includes the photo, coordinated by a GPS of where the photo was taken along with the date and time.

With the information gathered by users, the Kea Conservation Trust will be able to analyse the data and track the birds, allowing for better protection by understanding their movements and patterns.

The Kea Conservation Trust plans to use the data from the app to help other conservation organisations to track endangered animals from all over New Zealand.

“There are many of us in conservation who are passionate about protecting wildlife, but we don’t have the resources to keep tabs on all of the animals that need our help. This app will allow people all around New Zealand help us track and identify Keas and other endangered species,” says Orr-Walker. 

 The free app is currently available in the Apple App Store, and an Android app is currently in progress. Boost is also working on new features that add more information on species and conservation projects.