04 January 2019

    Chana Boucher

    Latest Sightings founder has only ‘scratched the surface’

    Nadav Ossendryver, who used tech to solve a problem he identified, speaks about his future plans, must-have tech and projects close to his heart.

    Nadav Ossendryver, who used tech to solve a problem he identified, speaks about his future plans, must-have tech and projects close to his heart.

    Seven years ago, when most 15-year-olds are sharing selfies and watching silly videos on the internet, Nadav Ossendryver found a more meaningful and rewarding use for it.

    He created a website that allowed people to share their sightings while visiting the Kruger National Park in real-time. This allowed others to view them and for guests in the park to navigate to the site if they wished. This branched out to cover other game parks in South Africa and to include an app (which is available on iOS and Android, and has more than 50 000 downloads to date), a YouTube channel (with more than a million subscribers, making it one of the most-watched South African channels) and an engaged and passionate social media following.

    It also brought much-deserved praise for Nadav, who has won numerous awards, met with world leaders including Barack Obama and conservationist Kingsley Holgate, and been invited to speak at top tech and tourism events.

    Where to next for the young entrepreneur? Nadav is currently studying a BCom part-time at Wits, but says: ‘With Latest Sightings, we still haven’t scratched the surface. There is a lot to do still. Our new focus on bookings has taken us to a new level.’ He explains that the Latest Sightings website tracks cancellations on reservations made in the Kruger Park, so when something opens up, Latest Sightings reserves it and offers it to interested guests. ‘We have managed to send nearly 1 000 people since we started in April,’ he adds.

    The idea for Latest Sightings was born of Nadav’s frustration at the lack of information sharing between visitors at his favourite game park. While he says there are always ‘hacks’ he thinks of that would make life easier, he doesn’t have plans to launch any new initiatives at the moment. ‘Running a tight team with Latest Sighting, and still being so involved operationally, means I don’t have much time to explore other areas just yet,’ explains Nadav.

    It’s not just fellow nature-lovers who benefit from Latest Sightings, it has been incredibly useful for conservation efforts too. ‘We aren’t involved intricately with the operations of any conservation projects, but we do help with data,’ he says. The sightings data is used by researchers for an EWT Wild Dog project in the Kruger National Park, while reports of injured animals are sent to Lize Bester of Enough is Enough to ensure they are tended to. ‘That is extremely important to me, because it shows that there is a direct relationship between people sharing their sighting on Latest Sightings and the saving of animals’ lives!’

    The right tools

    When visiting the Kruger National Park, Nadav says he always has a GPS with him. ‘I leave nowhere, actually, without my Waze app. Even in Kruger, it works well.’ In addition to that, he, of course, has the Latest Sightings app loaded.

    Nadav uses a window tripod for his video camera for easier, better-quality videos and says he recently purchased a FlashAir memory card. This creates a wifi hotspot that sends photos and videos from his camera straight to his phone to be shared with his followers. ‘It has been an absolute gamechanger in terms of sharing brilliant quality photos right at the sighting and not having to wait to get home to transfer everything.’

    Nadav’s top videos

    ‘My favourite videos so far have been the ones with a really crazy ending! There was one sent in by a guide where a pride of lion took down a buffalo, then a lioness from another pride came in to try and eat. The pride started chasing her away, allowing the buffalo to escape!’ (See it below.)

    ‘I also love the ones where one animal ‘rescues’ the other or where you just know you are watching something remarkable (like this one).’

    Read more about some great apps for nature lovers, and then check out the Vodacom website for great deals on the latest smartphones with the brilliant cameras you'll need for your next Kruger adventure. 

    Chana Boucher