Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Free endangered wildlife ringtones made available

February 27, 2007 - 12:50AM

ALBUQUERQUE - Amid the cacophony of cell phone ring tones these days, add these: the clickety-click-click of a rare Central American poison arrow dart frog, the howl of a Mexican gray wolf and the bellows of an Arctic beluga whale.

An environmental group is hoping that the more people hear these sounds from threatened animals, the more they’ll wonder where they came from — and question the fate of the animals and birds that make them.

“The point here is education and inspiration,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity’s office in PiƱos Altos, N.M.

Like other activist groups, the center is looking to the immediate attention cell phones can bring to its cause.

“With the ring tones, this is the tip of the iceberg,” said Peter Leyden, director of the institute, which studies the impact of cell phones — what he and others call “mobile media” — on political and social campaigns.

Take for example the efforts of U2 front man Bono. He got thousands of people to sign up for the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting global AIDS and poverty, by asking fans to send a text message during the band’s concerts.

Amnesty International also uses text messaging to send action notices to members.

Katrin Verclas, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network and a coordinator with MobileActive.org, said there’s a lot to be learned as campaigns — political and social — try new ways to connect with people.

“Nonprofits have been using online tools such as Web sites and e-mail to get out a message, but the handwriting is on the wall as far as the possibilities for mobile devices to be added to that mix,” she said. “Mobile phones are just another piece of the equation. There is still so much room for experimentation.”

Peter Galvin, a co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity, came up with the idea for the free ring tones of endangered and rare species as a way to educate people — especially the younger, technologically savvy generation.

“And with young people, it has to be interesting and it has to be cool,” Galvin said.

The rings are certainly that.

- 24,000 people have downloaded the rare rings for free from the center’s Web site (www.biological diversity.org).
- 80 percent of voting-age Americans have cell phones, and that number is expected to keep growing.
- 30 percent of wireless users by 2008 are likely to forgo their land lines, according to a New Politics Institute study.


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