Play the conservation biology game

20th March 2018

News, Student news, Alumni news

Discover what it’s like to be a conservation biologist through a new board game.

  • Photos and video by Laurie Hedges at

Co-designed by Wadham Lecturer Cedric Tan, the game encourages players to work together as researchers for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), founded and directed by alumnus David Macdonald (Zoology, 1969).

Players work as WildCRU researchers to gather resources to complete carnivore conservation projects across the globe. With stories taken directly from the real experiences at WildCRU, players choose adventures and gather field and research equipment, personnel and transport resources for their projects.

Answering multiple choice ‘research questions’ players reveal the flora, herbivores and competitor carnivores within their study sites. Players face the additional pressure of ‘Global Events’, which can cause serious setbacks.

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

Cedric Tan, who has been trialling the game added: “It  appeals to children and adults who enjoy learning about the challenges of real situations. We hope the game provides an opportunity for people to learn about their local wildlife and how to live smart with them.”

Through innovative approaches like this, WildCRU hopes to increase environmental awareness and understanding of real-world conservation issues.

WildCRU has launched a Kickstarter project to fund development of the boardgame.