“Unseen Empire” uses 6,000,000 photos to create the Pokémon Go of wildlife
Unseen Empire has turned one of the largest-ever wildlife camera trap studies into a game using six million photos taken across Southeast Asia. If you’re searching for a phone game that lets you have fun, learn lots of new things, and it has cute animals – search no more, because you’ve just found it.
Unseen Empire is based on an ongoing, decade-long camera trap study. The massive study has been conducted by Professor David Macdonald and his team at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford. Initially, the research was conducted in Southeast Asia with the goal of studying clouded leopards.
“Little is known about these regal creatures, but with an estimated population of 10,000, the clouded leopard is considered vulnerable due to deforestation and poaching,” the story about the study reads. “I saw coming together an opportunity to study a species that was, in a sense, unknown,” said Macdonald. The forests of Southeast Asia are disappearing faster than anywhere else in the world, according to the team. This is due to several factors, including urbanization, illegal logging, and land clearing for agricultural production.
While the game is fun above all, it wants to help you better understand conservation science and learn new facts about wildlife. “Rather than just read about the study and the results, you play the role of a researcher,” Gautam Shah describes the game. He is the founder of Internet of Elephants, the company behind Unseen Empire.
Me being me, I downloaded Unseen Empire to try it out. The first task was to identify animal species from ten camera trap photos. There are some bonus missions as well and they are time-limited, but I plan on exploring them later. The first one for me was to identify a monkey selfie in one of the camera trap photos I see, and I’ll be happy to.
I didn’t delete the game right after trying it out, which means that it really has something to offer. Not many phone games have me stick with them for longer than a few minutes, honestly. So, if you’d also like to try it out, there are both Android and iOS versions for you to download.
[Update three hours later: I’m seriously hooked, this game is great! :)]
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.