7 great wildlife applications

Posted by Alison Westwood on 29 October 2018

What weighs less than a bar of chocolate but can hold an arkload of information? Your phone, of course. Use these wild applications to open your eyes to the amazing life around you.

Photograph by Sylwia Bartyzel.


1. Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa

R290. Free sample version

Twitchers, if you’re only going to buy one bird app, this should be it. It has all the illustrations, info and distribution lists of the 975 species from the book, but also features more than 1 000 photos and 800 calls. What makes this app stand out, is how easy it is to use. Browse by recognisable bird groups, do a smart search by location, bird size or colour, or compare birds side by side. Record all your sightings on the life list, which is automatically backed up to the cloud so there’s no chance of losing it should something happen to your phone. newmansbirdsapp.com Get it on iTunes or GooglePlay.


2. Woodhall’s Butterflies of South Africa


If butterflies have always been a beautiful mystery to you, this app will reveal a new world. The interactive version of Steve Woodhall’s book covers more than 670 species, many of which are found nowhere else. For beginners, the search tool makes it easy to identify them based on size, location, habitat, colour, pattern and the probability of sighting butterflies by month. The detailed intro covers everything from their anatomy and behaviour to the best way to sneak up on one to photograph it. Get it on iTunes or GooglePlay


3. eFrogs of Southern Africa


Suitable for everyone, including freshly spawned froggers, thanks to the GPS feature that automatically lists only the species that occur where you happen to be. Narrow your search using four distinctive characteristics, and compare species side by side. Adults and tadpoles are comprehensively described, along with photos, audio and video. (The footage of painted reed frogs fighting is delightful.) As well as logging your sightings, the app also allows you to submit them to FrogMAP, a citizen-science project that tracks the conservation status of frogs in Africa. Get it on iTunes or GooglePlay


4. Stuarts’ Southern African Mammals


This app crams a zoo into your pocket, with all 529 of our land and water mammals – from aardvarks to zebras (there’s even a rather humorous entry for humans). Identification is straightforward, thanks to more than 3000 illustrations and photos – including animal-to-human size comparisons, tracks and droppings – as well as video and audio clips of the animals. Search by name, country or even traces they leave behind, compare species and keep a list of your sightings. The downside is the app uses almost 1GB of memory. Get it on iTunes or GooglePlay


5. eSnakes of Southern Africa

R290. Free sample version

For anyone who loves spending time outdoors, being instantly able to identify any one of more than 150 species of snakes is certainly a superpower worth having. Aside from the fascination of seeing them, there’s also the possibility it could save a life. Thanks to the smart search, you can quickly identify a snake from its head shape, type of scales and habitat, while multiple photos and a comparison tool make it easy to eliminate uncertainty. There’s also a quick guide to first-aid measures in the event of a bite. Get it on iTunes or GooglePlay


Free but you’ll need an internet connection

6. iNaturalist

This fabulous app uses the power of community collaboration to identify, track and record nature all over the world, from the rarest butterfly to the most common garden weed. Record your observations, connect with experts to help you identify them, and explore the interactive map to discover what others have spotted around you. Get it on iTunes or GooglePlay


7. Seek by iNaturalist

Just like Shazam for nature! Snap a photo of any living thing and the app will try to identify it for you. Although you need a good, clear photo to improve success, it feels like magic when it works. Get it on iTunes

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