Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

School boy's wildlife-tracking website helps tourists spot big beasts

Sixteen-year-old Nadav Ossendryver has created Latest Sightings, a wildlife-tracking website that informs tourists about the whereabouts of animals in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Sixteen-year-old Nadav Ossendryver has created Latest Sightings, a wildlife-tracking website that informs tourists about the whereabouts of animals in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
HIDE CAPTION
Nadav Ossendryver
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Nadav Ossendryver
Nadav Ossendryver
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Nadav Ossendryver
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nadav Ossendryver, 16, has created wildlife-tracking website Latest Sightings
  • It uses crowdsourcing to gather information about animals in Kruger National Park
  • The website has grown to have over 33,000 members, says Nadav
  • Latest Sightings does not display any rhino sightings

(CNN) -- He's helped save a rhino's life, spoken at major tech conferences, won several awards and created an online community of thousands of users -- and he is just 16 years old.

Teenager Nadav Ossendryver is the founder and developer of Latest Sightings, a crowd-sourcing website that provides real-time updates on animal sightings in Kruger National Park, South Africa's largest game reserve.

Founded in November 2011, the site harnesses the power of social media to enable Kruger visitors to share the whereabouts of animals with other holidaymakers, thus increasing their chances of spotting the diverse wildlife that's populating the vast park -- from lions and cheetahs to leopards and elephants.

Click to expand map  Click to expand map
Click to expand mapClick to expand map

Read: New monkey discovered

"WOW! What a way to end the day!! 3 lioness and 9 cubs! Thank you for this wonderful page," reads one comment posted on Latest Sightings. "YOU ARE A LEGEND!! Thank-you! Thank-you! Most amazing experience at Kruger... Wild Dogs SO close!!" says another.

It all began last year after one of Nadav's numerous visits to the world-famous Kruger, a stunning wildlife haven stretching out over 7,500 square miles.

"Whenever we came here I used to beg my parents to stop every car passing and ask them what they'd seen," remembers Nadav, who is currently a grade 10 student. "After a while they got irritated, so I was thinking, what's an easy way of getting people to share their sightings without having to stop every car?"

When he returned to his Johannesburg home, the bright teenager put his mind to the task and after two weeks of non-stop work he created his first wildlife-tracking iPhone app.

We don't ever share rhino sightings because of the poaching.
Nadav Ossendryver, Latest Sightings

A little over a year later, Nadav says, the crowd-powered site has grown to win fans all over the world, helping wildlife enthusiasts enhance their safari experience.

"All together on Facebook, Twitter and the website, we've got over 33,000 people," says Nadav. "When I started I thought I won't even get 100 people. I never thought they'll be more than 100 people that like Kruger enough to actually follow the sightings but now there are 33,000 people, it's just unbelievable."

Read: Last of the bush trackers on the trail of a dying art

Nadav remembers the case of an American couple visiting Kruger on a mission to see a leopard for the first time in their lives. The solitary, elusive cat is one of the most difficult animals to spot in the wild, but thanks to the site, Nadav says, the couple got lucky on their first day at the park.

"People go there for years and don't even see a leopard and they saw two leopard cubs in one day," he says. "They said they could have gone home that afternoon and still be so happy. And when they got home finally, they told all their friends of how they had such an amazing time in Kruger."

But while members can report movements of any wildlife whilst scanning the open savannah, there is one animal whose whereabouts is banned from the site.

"We don't ever share rhino sightings because of the poaching," explains Nadav. "It's a huge problem, there's poaching more or less every day."

Rhino poaching rates have soared in recent years in South Africa -- according to the country's officials, more than 450 rhinos have been killed this year.

Latest Sightings carries telephone numbers where people can directly report rhino poaching, says Nadav, who encourages his followers to keep an eye out for hunters.

Earlier this year, he was informed by a member about an injured rhino caught in a poacher's snare in Kruger. Nadav immediately passed on the details to a park ranger in order to prevent the animal, which was bleeding around its neck, from becoming an easy target for hunters. The ranger rushed to the scene and managed to save the stricken animal.

"If you see any suspicious activity then you can share it to us and we create awareness," says Nadav.

Read: Wildlife puts Tanzania on the tourist map

The 16-year-old schoolboy, who wants to pursue career in IT in the future, was born in Israel in June 1996 and moved to South Africa when he was eight years old. Like many teenagers, he also loves soccer and tennis and plays drums in his school band.

His remarkable feats have not gone unnoticed by the world -- Nadav has held meetings with Google executives and has been invited to speak about mobile applications and the internet at some of the biggest technology events in the continent, including the Tech4Africa conference.

His numerous accolades include being named the youngest virtual honorary ranger from SANParks, South Africa's national parks service, as well as an eco ambassador for the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Looking ahead, Nadav says he'd like to expand the service to other game reserves so that he can improve the wildlife safari experience for tourists and help protect endangered species.

"I love every second of it," says Nadav. "I just love knowing about all the sightings, seeing and helping animals especially, creating awareness, trying to end poaching and learning more about Kruger -- I love every single second of it."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Photojournalist Daniella Zalcman asked Uganda's religious leaders their views on homosexuality. Their answers might surprise you.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1726 GMT (0126 HKT)
Nazis, bomb raids, and a mysterious man with a mustache. The search for the spinosaurus reads like a spy novel.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Can a rat be a hero? It can if it saves lives. Meet the giant rats that sniff out landmines and TB
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
In Africa, royalty is an endangered species. Meet the man on a mission to photograph the last remaining kings and queens.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1110 GMT (1910 HKT)
Can state-of-the art schools in rural Africa rescue the environment? One charity is betting on it.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
To save the rhinos, one charity is moving them out of South Africa, where poaching is at an all time high.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1542 GMT (2342 HKT)
mediterranean monk seal
Many of Africa's animals are facing extinction. Is it too late for them? Our interactive looks at the many challenges to survival.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
No one knows what causes "fairy circles" in Namibia's desert. A new study, however, may have solved the mystery.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
A picture shows the Rwenzori mountain range on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 8, 2014. At 5,109 metres (16,763 feet), Mount Stanley's jagged peak is the third highest mountain in Africa, topped only by Mount Kenya and Tanzania's iconic Kilimanjaro.
The 'African Alps' are melting, and it may be too late. Now may be your last chance to see the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the oldest people on Earth. Today, they battle for land, and continued survival.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1438 GMT (2238 HKT)
One company thinks so. They're investing in insect farms in Ghana and Kenya. Could bugs build an industry and curb malnutrition?
March 21, 2014 -- Updated 1020 GMT (1820 HKT)
Morocco is famous for its historic cities and rugged landscape. But it's becoming known as a surfer's paradise.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
A photographer took to an ultra-light aircraft to capture Botswana's savannah from above. The results are amazing.
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 0437 GMT (1237 HKT)
Vintage helicopters, ziplines, private flying safaris offer new, spectacular views of wildlife and rugged terrain.
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 1016 GMT (1816 HKT)
Makoko Floating School
A new wave of African architects are creating remarkable buildings in the continent, and beyond.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 1415 GMT (2215 HKT)
A huge spiral in the Sahara had Google Earth users baffled by what it could be. So what exactly is it?
Each week Inside Africa highlights the true diversity of the continent as seen through the mediums of art, music, travel and literature.
ADVERTISEMENT