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Minecraft: We Are the Rangers

Minecraft on the African savannah

Alasdair Davies

Alasdair Davies

Alastair Davies is a tech consultant with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). He’s been working for several years on various initiatives to educate the public and help raise awareness of endangered species, poaching, and conservation efforts around the globe. One of those projects is Instant Wild, a popular crowdsourcing app used to identify animals captured by camera traps in remote locations around the globe. He recently sent me this update. 

We wanted to reach out to new young audiences and get them excited about camera trapping and monitoring wildlife. Over 60% of the Instant Wild audience are over 30, so it was a space we wanted to fill—even more so as young people appreciating wildlife and understanding environmental change and sustainability is incredibly important.

Minecraft Ranger

Minecraft Ranger

So… we used Minecraft! (40 million players globally)

116 volunteer Minecraft players spent the last 12 months recreating an African wildlife conservancy map and added wildlife (elephants, rhinos, etc.) and actual camera traps to the game. Here’s someone playing the map and finding a camera trap, and here are people having a first play, rescuing pangolins from poachers.

The animals featured are the pangolin, elephant, rhino, and lion, the real victims of illegal trade, plus the rangers trying to save them. The aim of the game is to have fun and learn about conservation. Set in the African savannah, players take on the role of ranger. It’s a fun way to deal with real and serious issues.

We’ve called it We are the Rangers. It has its own website  where you can download the map and go on quests as rangers.

We are the Rangers home page.

We are the Rangers home page. Ready to roll!

You can help make it even more awesome.

There’s an amazing opportunity to take it further and have wildlife spawned (added) to the map in real time, based on the response from people using the Instant Wild app. Spawning wildlife in the game using Instant Wild as the engine would require a mod—perhaps there are some budding Minecraft developers out there who’d like to join in?

Imagine an elephant showing up on Instant Wild and if the percentage of positive votes over 2 minutes says it’s an elephant, we add one to the map next to the in-game camera trap! Perfect for Minecraft Edu that is played in schools worldwide now, and for classes to pretend to patrol as teams of rangers, reporting sightings—based on real-world animal sightings via the Instant Wild cameras.

If you’re interested in helping Alasdair and his team create this mod—or if you have other ideas about how Minecraft can help young people become aware of and get engaged in conservation, send email to al.davies@zsl.org

Comments: 5

  1. Does anybody know where to get a camera? I know you have to go to this ‘booth’, but I can’t find it anywhere! Please help.

  2. Hi Sapphire,

    Thanks for getting in touch. We’re actually going to make a walk through, so check out wearetherangers.com for more info and a helpful guide to the level / adventure.

  3. you can get a camera at the trading camp. you can find it when selling a mule there

  4. Hi, when I started playing, difficulty was on peaceful. I couldn’t find elephants, or rhinos, and I knew it was in Vanilla Minecraft so I turned difficulty on normal. Later on in the game, random poachers came out of the ground and I was letting my younger sister try. She was frightened by the poachers so I turned difficulty off.Before that, I came across a guy who gave me the quest to save the baby elephant, a key got jammed and the elephant died. I had difficulty on normal then. The quest went off my quest board, so I carried on finishing other quests. I came to a quest after getting blue flowers about a elephant, and I realised I had by mistake killed the elephant for that quest. That was just after I had put peaceful on. When I went to do the quest, I decided I would find a different baby elephant instead to complete the quest. only then I realised peaceful was on. I quickly put difficulty onto normal, but there were no elephants. The only safari animals were Guinea Fowls, Zebras, Bush pigs, Vultures, and Water Buffalo. The animals I knew to be textures on top of zombie like mobs (I found that out in the tracking quest, I by mistake tracked a turtle and it was glowing in the shape of a zombie) were missing. I looked everywhere I could without getting lost but they were not there. I tried switching to peaceful and normal back again, but it made no difference. What can I do? I don’t want to restart the map as I am quite far. Is there a way of skipping quests or removing them from our quest board and carrying on? (I by mistake took the Find_The_Puppies quest twice! Sadly, in the dropper into the secret lab, My dog died.)

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