Clouder is a project focused on educating and promoting survival of Clouded leopards.
This fascinating wild cat still hides many secrets and is relatively unknown to science.
The design will improve education and spark interest in this fascinating wild cat species and hopefully help gather funds for amazing conservation projects working to save their wild habitats.
On website, You can learn more about those amazing animals and about field projects and research dedicated to protecting their survival. Join us in the fight to save these creatures.
This project was created as a final project for Google Professional Certificate course. It is my personal case study, and I was only one creating it: from research, design to testing. To generate a project concentrated on social good, I was randomly assigned a prompt: “Design a user experience to help conserve an endangered species of leopard”. I choose to concentrate on clouded Leopards.
Clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) take Their name from the large, ‘cloud-like’ markings. Their canines are the longest in relation to their skull size than in any other modern feline species. Amazing tree-climbing abilities are enabled by very long tail, short strong legs and flexible hind joints (with enable them to climb headfirst down from tree trunks).
Currently, three subspecies are recognized:
-Neofelis nebulosa brachyurus found in Taiwan, China – thought to be extinct in the wild
-Neofelis nebulosa macrosceloides found from Nepal to Burma
-Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa found from Southern China to eastern Burma
There are still many unknowns about their behavior: partially nocturnal lifestyle in a dense canopy makes them hard to observe. Prey consists of macaques, deer, pigs, porcupines, fish and civets.
Identify conservation struggles:
Effective conservation requires sufficient knowledge. It is crucial, as even estimating their numbers is very hard due to partially nocturnal lifestyle in a dense canopy makes them hard to observe.
The major threat to the clouded leopard, as is for most wildlife, is habitat loss. Forests in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia have been fragmented and decreasing at a rate of 10% per year since 1997. No single protected area is currently big enough to permanently sustain a viable population. There for, it is essential to maintain suitable habitat corridors to connect isolated subpopulations.
Illegal trade and poaching
The clouded leopard is hunted for its teeth, pelt, and for bones. Their parts are sold for the traditional Asian medicine. They have also been illegally sold on the menu of restaurants in Thailand and China which cater to wealthy Asian tourists. Such activities are illegal, but often the law is hard to enforce.
Conflict with local human population
With their habitat rapidly disappearing and decline in prey species, leopards find themselves in search for food closer and closer to human settlements. This makes them vulnerable to being killed as retaliation for killing livestock. It is crucial that humans understand that wild animals are forced to come by deforestation, as humans are the ones capable of stopping it.
This competitive audit is the least competitive possible: I created a list of organizational working on conservation, and I would love everybody to get to know them too.
Not only I can learn from them, and try to improve current solutions, but later in the project I will link them on my website, so someone interested in helping can have all the relevant information.
- https://wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/endangered_species/clouded_leopard/ WWF World Wide Fund for Nature is a well known organization. It was founded 1961 and is active in nearly 100 countries. The specific branches are curated to take care of the local environmental struggles and endangered species. This allows them to adjust their operations to local needs.
- https://www.hutan.org.my/ Hutan is a team of 80 people from the local community working since 1998 in Kinabatangan, Borneo. Their holistic approach to conservation consists of monitoring of wildlife, law enforcement, reforestation, environmental education, advocating for the forest and better laws.
- https://www.borneonaturefoundation.org/research/life-clouded-leopards/ A not-for-profit wildlife and biodiversity conservation and research organization that protects and safeguards tropical rainforests and the environment in Borneo. They plant trees, take part in firefighting and fire prevention, and set up camera traps that allow to monitor forest animals in their natural habitat.
- https://www.eocaconservation.org/project-detail.cfm?projectid=2345 European Outdoor Conservation Association, organization dedicated to conservation of non-urban environments and ecosystems. It is funded by different companies and offers grants for a variety of different projects.
- Species Survival Plan (SSP) is a program for the Zoo’s around the world to keep closed off population healthy. They collaborate with other zoos in the U.S. and Asia to breed and research the species. Even thou place for a wild animal is never in a cage, this allows to further understanding and kindness and hopefully will eventually benefit also a wild population.
Successful conservation efforts require that habitat destruction and poaching activity is prevented, public awareness is increased, and law implementation is enforced.
Types of efforts:
– educating a research
– camera traps (for tracking in the wild)
– habitat care (planting trees, green corridors, firefighting etc.)
– fund razing
– law enforcement preventing poaching and illegal farming
– supporting sustainable farming and development
I decided to generate as many ideas as possible and let my imagination run wild, to answer a question “How can an app help a Clouded Leopard?”.
I decided to go with the idea to create a dating app for Leopards. Hear me out! It is obviously not very likely that a clouded leopard would use a dating app. But it gives opportunity to seek in a good deal of information, and let users know much more about those amazing creatures in a style many can be already used to consuming information.
Cat profiles introduce facts about cats (such as: exceptional tale, long teeth, amazing climbing abilities because of rotating ankles) in a fun way. It is also crucial to reference freedom in profiles to remind users that those are wild beasts, and they were not made to be tamed.
Instead of writing to leopard, user will have to play a little game.
I spend a lot of time to figure out what type of simple game can be relevant in this contest. The first idea was “to set up camera in the forest” where u make a photo of leopard they are interested in. (a bit like one would like to find out more about other user in a dating app by getting to know them in writing). But later during creating wireframes I came up with a much better idea. Wild cats have to travel from their territories to territories of other cats and avoid humans, plantations and destroyed parts of forest: perfect setting for a Minesweeper type game (where instead of mine u try to avoid poachers).
I chose to use icons in the game because they represent real struggles wild population faces. However, this ran the risk of being confusing to the users. To make easier distinction between save and unsafe I decided to use color: green to indicate a save forest, brown that I use in many places in app to show dangerous human area and red for target and poacher.
This color palette was instantly understandable as it resembles traffic lights. There was only one problem, the shades had to be adjusted, so they will be at least differentiable with colorblindness.
That why I decided not to make any gradation and have one green and one red color.
The mobile app will be a game, to spark interest, but it is complimented by a website where the user can broaden their knowledge and learn about conservation projects and how to support them.
The website has to be much more informational. Because an app and website serve different purposes, it is crucial for the website to be responsive: it has to be possible to go from the app to website on your mobile phone.
If You would like to see a case study that i turned in as my graded Assignment from this project, You can find it here:
What I would love to add is sound. Clouded leopards make unique noises and I would love to incorporate them in game design. In the game panel You can find “battle sounds” but for now they are permanently off.
This project gave me the opportunity to make first step’s into understanding how to design a mobile game app.
It also reinforces in me how important it is to let imagination run wild in a creative process. Sometimes ideas that seem crazy at first are the ones that actually have something interesting to offer. I also learned a lot about leopards. 🙂
I think the impact of the game lies in its viral potential. Endangered species need to harvest more of our attention if we are to solve the crisis of rapidly diapering wilderness.
So, how did You like it? Let me know!