Rat in a trap? There's an app for that
If you hear your smartphone squawk instead of ring, fear not - it could simply be the new app letting you know your trap has caught a pest.
Squawk Squad was developed by an Auckland business which raised funds through a Kickstarter campaign. It's is set to launch next month after raising $70,000 - $50,000 more than the target set by its co-founders in May this year.
"Initially our campaign was for a project in west Auckland," co-founder Racheal Herlihy said. "However, when we hit our first target we got in touch with other sanctuaries around the country including one in Wellington and another in the South Island. Suddenly our support grew nationwide.
"We said if we raised enough money we would be able to support a second project and that our backers would get to vote for their sanctuary of choice. We hit our goal and the voters chose Te Rere Penguin Reserve in the Catlins."
Squawk Squad was essentially designed as a conservation tool, using crowdfunding to buy traps. Metrics inside the trap relay information about the type of pest as well as when and where it was caught. This information is relayed to the donor's mobile device in real time as a push notification.
When the project launches in late November, more than 700 people who helped fund traps will begin to get notifications in real-time once the app and traps go live. This follows the installation of 60 sensor-connected traps at Ark in the Park in West Auckland looking after the kōkako.
"We see this as an easy way for anybody to play a part in the movement that is Predator Free 2050," Herlihy said.
"The idea grew from Startup Weekend Auckland last November where we took out the title for winning social-enterprise idea. We were all very passionate and excited about the potential of the idea so decided to take the plunge and put our idea on Kickstarter. It was a great way of validating our idea and seeing whether people were actually interested."
Herlihy said that Squawk Squad provided anyone with the opportunity to help protect birds with the swipe of their thumb - and they didn't even have to be in New Zealand.
"It was interesting to us to see we actually have backers from 10 countries around the world. People in Germany, Canada and Singapore are going to now have this unique connection to our native birds as they play a role in helping protect them."
Squawk Squad recently teamed up with DOC, Forest and Bird, Predator Free NZ, Moana and Zealandia to provide a free education programme for teachers during Conservation Week - 1380 classrooms for 38,000 kids had signed up.
The Department of Conservation estimates that 25 million native birds are killed every year by predators such as stoats, rats and possums. Forest and Bird say that 68 per cent of New Zealand birds are in trouble and one in three are at risk of becoming extinct.
- NZ Gardener