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Launched in July this year, Pokémon Go has become a global phenomenon, reaching 500 million downloads within two months of release.

What can Pokémon Go teach the world of conservation? Wachiwit

Image: www.shutterstock.com

The augmented reality game, designed for mobile devices, allows users to capture, battle and train virtual creatures called Pokémon that appear on screen as if part of the real-world environment.

But can the game's enormous success deliver any lessons to the fields of natural history and conservation?

A new paper by a group of researchers from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, and University College London (UCL) explores whether Pokémon Go's success in getting people out of their homes and interacting with virtual 'animals' could be replicated to redress what is often perceived as a decline in interest in the natural world among the general public.

Or, could the game's popularity pose more problems than opportunities for conservation?

Read more on the University website (opens new window)