Mobile nature guide helps identify world around you (With Image)

June 3rd, 2009 - 11:45 am ICT by IANS  

By Quaid Najmi
Pune, June 3 (IANS) The next time you see a beautiful flower but don’t know its name, use your mobile phone. A six-month effort by Pune-based naturalist Shrikant Ingalhalikar has led to a field guide for the Sahyadri range around here that is now available on mobile phones made by Nokia.

Commercial launch is scheduled for August. Ingalhalikar said the entire 2 GB database could be downloaded for around Rs.4,000.

“The compact database on the biodiversity of the sprawling Sahyadri range of mountains can be downloaded to your cell phone from the website. You can carry it anywhere and it will serve as a field guide when journeying into the wild,” Ingalhalikar told IANS.

Not only does the database help identify birds, animals, reptiles and many types of plants, it also lists references to books and links and maps of the mountain range. It can even produce the recorded sounds of many of the birds found in this region.

“It would be of immense use to not only professional naturalists but even amateurs, trekkers on nature trails as well as school and college students for their nature field trips. Since it does not require any network to operate, it is free from recurring costs,” Ingalhalikar explained.

Most nature trips entail lots of library and background research. Plus, one has to carry bulky books and field guides to make them a success, said Mumbai-based professional naturalist Himanshu Prem.

“Moreover, the field guides are very expensive, hard to get, and only the hard-core professional naturalists use them. A mobile application like this could be a boon. It would attract more amateurs to explore the beauty of nature,” said Prem, who runs the 23-year old nature group, Wild Holidays.

Ingalhalikar said the software - named ID Sahyadri - would be more than a field guide. It contains the data of most of the recorded species of plants, flowers, birds, butterflies, reptiles, geckos, turtles and mammals.

“I have provided information on 2,265 species, ranging from common to rare, in a user-friendly format. It can be quickly downloaded, so you can experience the thrill of understanding the species while actually watching them in their natural environs,” he said.

Picturesque and rich in biodiversity, the Sahyadri range encompasses a huge geographical area in western India, extending from south Gujarat to North Kerala.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

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