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HKU Scientist Co-develops Birding App

Image Credits: HKU, Press Release

Nowadays, citizens often stick to the flat screens of mobile phones. To reconnect people in the city with nature through their mobile devices, the School of Biological Sciences of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society jointly developed the iOS app “HKBirds: Birds of Hong Kong”.

The app facilitates observation, identification, recording and sharing of bird records at any time and anywhere. It encourages users to observe and reconnect with nature, raises public awareness on biodiversity and enhances appreciation of nature. The app is available for free download worldwide and acts as a field guide for the birds of Hong Kong.

The Chairman of Hong Kong Bird Watching Society stated that the mobile application records over 40% (240 species) of the birds in Hong Kong and provides detailed information including characteristics, habitats, conservation status, bird calls, etc.

The public can also systematically record their observations in the app, which makes this app a comprehensive learning platform. The app facilitates Hong Kong people to learn more about the diverse bird fauna of Hong Kong and enables knowledge exchange. The project coordinator, who is HKU School of Biological Sciences stated that urban populations have been growing fast worldwide. Apart from protecting biodiversity in the natural environments, promoting biodiversity conservation in urban environments has become a global trend in recent years.

The “HKBirds: Birds of Hong Kong” is a Mobile App under the project titled “From Flat Screen to Nature via Birding”, which is supported by HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund. Technical support of the Mobile App is provided by the HKU Department of Computer Science.

Hong Kong is using tech to boost awareness of biodiversity and conservation in multiple areas. For example, Ocean Park launched a new attraction spot called Explorer R recently which is a new interactive technology experience hub with an array of additional conservation and education elements.

Explorer R is located at the Park’s Whiskers Harbour and other designated locations in the Waterfront area. The new spot is a technology-driven attraction that applies a stimulating mix of virtual games and interactive fun play to spark children’s imagination and scientific thinking through experiential learning.

Kids, by creating their own AI SuperAnimal and going through the “think, try and modify” process with Redd, will be motivated to figure out how the body parts of animals help them adapt to their habitats.

Children aged from two to five can join the Camouflage Kids! and Ninja in Nature with their parents, in which they will find out more about local biodiversity and observe how animals protect themselves from predators using camouflage through fun games.

The park also designed the Sea Land Expedition for children aged from six to 11. It allows them to travel to different locations of the park, from Rainforest, North Pole Encounter to an African Adventure to observe animals up-close. A coding session will also be included.

Kids can then visit Explorer Stops located at different locations inside and outside Whiskers Harbour as they step out of Explorer R. They can conduct special missions to observe and explore nature using their five senses.

Families can also sign up for four Whiskers Harbour Maker Workshops hosted by the popular Whiskers Village Team for some DIY upcycling activities while enjoying quality family time and becoming more eco-friendly together.

“Ocean Park is dedicated to conservation and education…Children will now get to learn about nature and conservation in a much more creative, experiential and tech-powered way that’s never been done on this scale before at the Park”, said the Deputy Chairman of Ocean Park.

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