In 2002, Vodafone launched their Vodafone live! service in the UK along with a range of live!-enabled high-end handsets with colour screens, cameras, video and polyphonic ringtones. The live! portal provided a range of services to the user within a single, consistent, easy-to-use interface, including sport, news, entertainment, games, ringtones, wallpapers and chat.

At around the same time, a visionary team at Fauna & Flora International (FFI) were exploring the potential for these new mobile devices in conservation. The ability to reach a massive audience through what was rapidly becoming a hugely successful consumer device lead to an approach for funding, and the creation of a project which began in January 2003. A team of three was assembled to make it happen, and kiwanja.net project-managed the process.

wildlive! UK was approximately ten months in development, and at launch (reported on BBC Online and covered on Vodafone‘s website) provided conservation news and information including field diaries, discussion forums and SMS competitions and alerts to Vodafone live! users. In addition, a range of animal ringtones and spectacular wildlife wallpapers – taken from FFI’s own archive – were sold on the platform, along with a range of conservation-based Java games. wildlive! – the first conservation-based mobile phone fundraising and awareness-raising portal of its kind – was launched at the Natural History Museum on 11th December 2003 at an event which coincided with FFI’s centenary celebrations.

This short 45 second video on the wildlive! service was prepared for the 2004 Wildscreen Awards.

wildlive! adopted a combined web- and WAP- approach, providing conservation content on the internet and mobile phones. News, diaries, discussions and other content was added to the website which was then in turn rendered for mobile devices accessing via the Vodafone live! network. A community of interest was created, allowing users to contact others with similar ideas and views, and a wide range of conservation-based resources and downloads were made available online.

Throughout 2004 the service was rolled out across Germany, Hungary, Malta, Spain and the Netherlands, with local-language homepages and targeted content provided on both the web and WAP sites. During the first year approximately £100,000 was raised through the service and wildlive! was a finalist at the 2004 Wildscreen Festival in the Interactive Award category. It was also featured as a double-page spread in Vodafone Life magazine (PDF, 280Kb).

As part of FFI’s centenary fundraising strategy, a slot was arranged on the BBC’s Lifeline charity appeal. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough – who also launched the fuller wildlive! service – this was the first time the BBC had promoted mobile giving on the programme, which focussed on gorilla conservation. SMS was later used to keep donors up-to-date with all the latest gorilla news.

wildlive! Wallpapers

(Images © Copyright Juan Pablo Moreiras/FFI)

Just some of over forty high-quality wildlife wallpaper background images sold on the wildlive! service, based on five themed categories: Gorillas, Rainforest, Patagonia, Safari and Weird & Wacky.

wildlive! Ringtones

Over twenty realtone and half-a-dozen polyphonic ringtones were available, proving incredibly popular and accounting for a large percentage of wildlive! income. The polyphonic ringtones were composed by an FFI supporter in Cambridge as an experiment, and more were planned (including the mixing of realtone and polyphonic tunes together. The Crazy Frog put pay to this!).

wildlive! Games

A total of five mobile phone games were developed for the project – Silverback, Ribbix, a wildlive! nature quiz and two ‘Tamagotchi-style’ products. Silverback was the first, and received great reviews in the mainstream mobile phone press – the “Mobile Choice” (January 2004) and “What Cellphone” (March 2004) reviews are shown above. Sample mobile screen shots are below.

Silverback: Face the challenges of life in the forest as you grow from a juvenile gorilla into a fully-grown silverback. Across eight challenging levels try to guide yourself and your new family to the safety of the reserve, but watch out for fires, traps, poachers and rival silverbacks!

Frog and Tiger: Frog/tiger is your own virtual animal that you have to look after. Make sure he has a balanced lifestyle and he will live for a long time. You will need to check back on him regularly to make sure he is well.

The two ‘Tamagotchi-style’ games were based on two popular animals – the frog and the tiger (white throated cochraine frog and a bengal tiger, to be precise). Both needed to be looked after to keep them alive. Built into the game were a number of educational screens, and links to web resources on conservation.

wildlive! Quiz: A 500-question quiz based on nature, zoology and conservation was developed and translated for a number of European markets. The German version is pictured here. Blocks of ten questions at-a-time were randomly delivered from the database. Only once all ten were correctly answered in one session were they ‘flagged’ as answered. As with all wildlive! games it had a strong entertainment/education theme.

Ribbix: The fourth instalment in the wildlive! games series – was based on an old popular arcade game, with a unique conservation theme.

Put yourself in the shell of a leatherback turtle, slip into the skin of a Sumatran tiger, live out the life of a Marco Polo sheep or see how you cope as a colobus in this mobile game with a difference. Guide your animal around the screen marking off territory whilst avoiding predators, to reveal a stunning FFI photo!