KrugerExplorer app – the nature of technology

Posted by Anton Crone on 24 June 2020

Technology and social networking increasingly impact how we engage with the wilderness. Anton Crone reviews a new app that might just enhance that experience.

Image supplied

There’s one crucial thing that endears me to the new KrugerExplorer app: it’s not a social networking tool for finding the latest wildlife sightings.

I lament the previously released Latest Sightings app which is popular with visitors to Kruger National Park because it offers a live stream of wildlife sightings shared by its users. Their app-store pitch reads: ‘You never have to drive around the whole day seeing nothing, you can now see the magnificent Big Five, such as the lion and leopard, everyday on your safari.’

By inference, Latest Sightings regards driving in a landscape of riverine forest, for example, as ‘nothing’ if it doesn’t offer a member of the Big Five. Yet that forest contains boundless life: dozens of bird species, innumerable insects, reptiles, flowers, plants and mammals. You could explore this wonder for ages, or rush off the moment your phone ‘tings’ to join dozens of other cars at a traffic jam around a dozing lion. But in so doing, surely the whole point of visiting the wild is lost: the thrill of searching. As you hunt for prize sightings, you are compelled to observe every aspect of the wilderness – the flora, fauna, geology and climate, and that can be incredibly rewarding.

So, if it’s wonder you’re after, then the KrugerExplorer app is a worthwhile tool for your wilderness trips. I used it extensively on my northern Kruger trip (find out more on page 70 in the May/June issue). To put the app in one category is difficult for it has various features. Ultimately, it’s a compendium of the fauna and flora of Kruger, along with useful maps, detailed route recommendations, and a place to store all your sightings.

Image supplied

High-quality photographs of the fauna and flora are zoomable, giving you the detail you need to make positive identifications. The information on each species is extensive, including physical characteristics such as diet, habitat and behaviour, places you’re most likely to see them and quirky facts. Many species descriptions have a ‘Kid’s Corner’ with information which would be particularly interesting to children. Youngsters and adults alike will enjoy the ability to tick off sightings, whether they’re birds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates or plants. You can also store your sightings and refer to them when you have time to find out more detail about the species. The invertebrate and flora sections are sadly not well populated, but more than 50 mammals and 250 birds are covered in detail, and the reptile section deals with the major species.

Seasoned wildlife enthusiasts will find that the most useful features are the Maps and Routes sections. There are comprehensive maps for all regions, including geology and eco-zones, a waterhole index, distance charts and gate times for the park and individual rest camps.

I found the route recommendations particularly useful. It comprises two sections: one for circuits that are ideal for day visitors, and the other focusing on routes around each rest camp for people staying in the park. These include detailed maps and descriptions of each circuit along with common wildlife sightings and the flora and geology on the way.

Many of the sightings come from the observations of co-creator’s Danny Broome and Charlotte Kirke who are regular visitors to the park.

Broome says the information is regularly updated and that you can expect a larger variety of species and more information in the future. Best of all, there’s no mention of turning this into a social networking app for wildlife sightings. It works offline, just like the wilderness does.

I would highly recommend KrugerExplorer to park visitors as a companion for first-timers and kids, and as a handy tool for seasoned enthusiasts who want all the practical information they need in one place. R149,99 from the App Store or Google Play. krugerexplorer.com

 

 

This article was first published in the May/June 2020 issue of Getaway magazine.
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