Have you ever lost something but never found it again? I just sometimes hope that everything should be accompanied by some kind of GPS device so that we always know its location. It may sound impractical, but I can imagine that I can find my favorite jacket, which was left over on a connecting flight, or on a bumpy bus or even in the rain forest. Bluetooth headset not available. But I am not here to tell you about losing your umbrella. Hope my experience can help you find what you need.

My work in consulting companies and research organizations involves conducting wildlife and forest surveys. These need to travel to remote areas to document the various habitats and the species they support. My work mainly involves mapping these habitats to understand the research area and what species to look for in that area. When I asked them if they found “champagne” or bats, I like outdoor activities, meeting friends and looking at their amused faces, all of which are pleasant. It also feels a bit like a detective, following clues, trying to reveal nature’s secrets.

When I first started making these measurements, I used a dedicated GPS device that could accurately triangulate my position to an accuracy of about three meters. I am using Garmin eTrex 20 (ironically, I think I also misplaced one of them-a device designed to find a location), which is solid hardware in this field. But when you know that everything from small toys to refrigerators now has a touch screen, a device without humans begins to feel almost prehistoric.

To my delight, I found myself clicking on its screen more than once. The device does not have any map as a basic map in the background. Imagine that Google Maps is just a blank screen with an arrow on it showing your location. Trying to figure out how to add the base map to the GPS also seems cumbersome.

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Therefore, after several trials, I started to research Android applications that can achieve the same purpose. The desktop-based Google Earth software can view the points collected using GPS, but at that time there was no Google Earth for Android. Enter the track map for free.

Locus Maps is unique because it can support a large number of file formats used in different desktop mapping software. It can also recognize standard “.gpx” extension files generated by GPS devices. With its intuitive interface and built-in compass, this software can completely win your favor. Most importantly, you can select any base map in the background by installing additional apps from Google Playstore. This way, you can load the Google image as a basemap.

Rohit Pansare
Photo source: Track map looks a lot like Google Maps, but you can import GPS data

So now, before starting field work, I transfer all data layers (such as study areas, forest or protected area boundaries, settlements and water bodies) to my android device, and then load it on the “track map”. This way, I know where I must go, and can visualize and plan the next survey location based on road connectivity and time constraints.

However, an event occurred that made Locus Maps permanent in my application list. This happened in a remote location in the middle of the bush (the location should be kept secret due to a non-disclosure agreement). It can happen to anyone. I mean, many of us have forgotten the habit of putting mobile phones in auto rickshaws or leaving them on restaurant tables. Unfortunately, this time the call was not left in such a convenient location.

Hardly any traces were found for the whole day. My colleagues and I are looking for birds of prey or birds of prey, such as eagles or condors. Although sightings are rare, they are very important for our research because these birds are considered vital. This bushy forest looks promising, but only experienced drivers can drive in four-wheel drive. Therefore, we took time to arrange this part of the investigation in the evening. On one of the tracks, I found a bird perched on a small tree stump. The sunset was just behind the bird, which made it unrecognizable.

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We stopped at a safe distance so as not to disturb. I slowly opened the door, got down, and then shook my camera backward and crawled towards the bird. In order to get close to it, I have to be fast before the sun disappears behind the horizon, but do so secretly. I found it to be an adult long-legged vulture, a bird of prey that breeds in the Himalayas and Central Asia and winters in the North Indian Plains. I quickly got some photos, and then returned to the car. After taking note of the last survey point, we decided to return to the hotel.

After driving for about half an hour, I realized that my phone was missing. I calmly searched in each of the six to eight pockets of the seat, bag and pants. No! Panicked, I told the driver to turn on the lights when it was dark, and then started searching again. Hit me right then!

When I got out of the car to take the last photo, I was quadriplegic. I knew I might be crawling, so I took the phone out of the front pocket and placed it in the phone, not in the bag, not in the seat, not in the other seven pockets, but in the small space on the footstool. car. I told the driver to stop, then jumped out of the car, and checked whether my phone was successfully attached to the footstool to maintain his good life. Of course not, who am I trying to lie?

The next thing happened very quickly, we turned the car around and started moving towards our last position. Getting there before dark is crucial. Fortunately, I brought another mobile phone equipped with a “track map”, which has been used to record survey points. I clicked on the last point and a small pop-up window popped up with detailed information such as the distance and direction from the current location. I clicked an option to navigate to that point. Just like Google Maps, Locus Maps started to give me instructions at every turn. When we entered the bush, it was already dark. My colleague started to call me, hoping that when the car was approaching the end, our ears could hear the ringing. About a hundred meters from there, my eyes caught the dim light on the dusty road below. There, covered in dust, but still intact. At first, we didn’t encounter this as a miracle, but fortunately, Locus Maps saved the day!

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Rohit is an independent environmental consultant, professional trainer and documentary photographer based in Mumbai. In the past ten years, he has participated in interdisciplinary research and consulting projects related to change, urban biodiversity, environmental education, open source mapping and citizen science programs.

When not using the camera, you can find that he tends to grow plants on the Instagram handle or struggle with the writer’s obstacles. You can also mail him here.

This series is a project initiated by the Nature Conservation Foundation under its Nature Communication Program to encourage natural content in all Indian languages. If you are interested in writing articles about nature and birds, please fill out this form.

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