Betting company Ladbrokes is the unlikely architect of one of the best uses of the Internet we’ve seen for quite a while.
It has teamed up with the Conservation Foundation and the Tasmanian state government to stage an environmental project it claims has all the excitement of the Grand National.
The Ladbrokes.com Big Bird Race (‘The Ultimate Flutter’) follows the passage of a group of Tasmanian Shy Albatrosses (TSAs) as they migrate from small islands off Australia’s mainland to South Africa.
Ladbrokes.com has provided the funding for 18 of the birds to be fitted with satellite transmitters so their progress can be closely followed by scientists.
Ladbrokes’s key interest is that punters will also be able to follow their flight path on the Internet and place a variety of bets on the ‘race’. The company has also lined up a group of celebrity ‘owners’ of the birds to increase the race’s profile. Youngsters will also be able to follow the race, though obviously they won’t be placing bets.
Sadly not all of the birds will cross the finish line. Many won’t make it due to longline fishing techniques – thousands of baited hooks dragged behind boats. Around 300,000 seabirds die from longlining each year, with many albatross species facing extinction.
Ladbrokes and the various environmental groups backing the race hope that it will raise public awareness and bring pressure on authorities to make changes in fishing techniques. Any income generated from the race will be fed back into seabird conservation projects.
Needless to say Tech Digest will be having a flutter on one of the birds and you’ll be able to track its progress on this site.
More details nearer the time. The basic are here.