Mpala Live!

Creating a window to connect two continents

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For this Kenyan wildlife foundation, words on a web page wouldn’t be enough. They needed something to show visitors the educational side of their research while bringing it to life in an engaging way.

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Bring the African savanna to the World Wide Web. That was the task Mpala Live! brought us.

They wanted a website where visitors could access their wildlife 24/7 at the research center in Laikipia, Kenya, so users could experience for themselves the “living laboratory” that houses everything from parasites to elephants.

The Mpala Research Centre (MRC) has deep ties with the Smithsonian Institution and Princeton University and its own revolving-door group of international scientists. They’re already well known in their circle of researchers, but wanted to engage a broader audience.

Funded by Explore.org/Annenberg Foundation, MRC has an education mission to make their research available as a classroom learning tool for students. Valerie May, executive producer and founder of Mpala Live!, needed a way to take the scholarly material their scientists generate and make it engaging enough to spur interest in their conservation biology efforts.

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We made them an interactive field guide to help engage a younger audience with the animals, locations, and the mystery of Africa. To bring the field guide to life, Mpala contracted local Kenyan artist Lavinia Grant to provide original illustrations.

Users can filter animals based on class, eating habits and time of day they’re active. Clicking brings up a detail page that helps the reader learn about the animal’s habitat, size, sounds, and even the Swahili pronunciation of the animal’s name.

We also created a series of Stories from the Bush webcasts featuring Mpala researchers in the field talking about their work with the animals.

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The Live Cam is a live USTREAM feed running 24/7. Cameras are placed at various animal gathering spots. If you’re in North America, try viewing the camera in the morning to spot animals that are active during the day.