Carnivore conservation

A new choose-your-own-adventure board game created by researchers from the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology puts players centre-stage in a global carnivore conservation challenge. The educational game is launching a Kickstarter fundraising campaign today and here co-designer Dr Cedric Tan tells us all about it…

Have you ever wondered what it’s like being a conservation biologist? We have spent the past year creating and testing a brand new board game – The WildCRU Game: Global Carnivore Conservation – that reveals some of the challenges faced by conservationists, the animals themselves, and the indigenous people who live with them. We’re now looking to get the game out to schools and communities all across the world with a £40,000 Kickstarter funding campaign featuring lots of rewards and discounts for our backers.

The game has been co-designed by Jennifer Spencer and myself to appeal to non-scientists and people of different ages. Players work together cooperatively as WildCRU researchers to gather the resources to complete carnivore conservation projects across the globe.

Stories in the game are taken directly from the real experiences of the WildCRU team. Players must decide what to do in choose-your-own-adventure-style encounters to gather the equipment, personnel, and transport resources they need for their projects.

In developing this game, we chose six varied WildCRU projects including the Hwange Lion Research project, based in Zimbabwe, and the famous water vole study in the UK, to show players the breadth of WildCRU’s research.
– Co-designer Jennifer Spencer, WildCRU

Multiple choice research questions are also based on real WildCRU research; they reveal more about the environment of each project – the flora, herbivores, competitor carnivores, and study species of the study sites. With the additional pressure of Global Events, players will learn about how difficult wildlife conservation projects can be.

It has been great to see that the game appeals to both kids and adults. People have found it to be an immersive experience in which players experience the challenges of real people, real situations and real research. We also hope that the game will provide local families with the opportunity to learn about the wildlife around them, and how to live in harmony alongside it.

Through the game and our other education efforts we’re hoping to increase environmental awareness and to introduce a wide variety of people to the science and processes behind real-world conservation.

Images and video: Laurie Hedges (

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