There are nine species of gazelle living in Africa, five species of fox, and more than 50 species of primates (a new monkey species was discovered as recently as 2012). Then there are aoudads, blesboks, lechwes, and other animals most people have never heard of.
A fascinating infographic called Endangered Safari charts the 174 largest African mammals, color-coded by how endangered each species is. The direction each animal faces shows whether the population is increasing or decreasing; if you hover over the animal, you can also see a map of its range.
Designer R.J. Andrews was inspired to create the visualization after he and his wife, a physician, lived in Africa in 2015 doing global health work. He would visit different national parks and was awed by the diversity of life there.
The visualization pulls data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and shows the most endangered animals in red and orange. “When I found this data, I discovered that it really hadn’t been presented in a way that the average data-illiterate consumer can appreciate,” he says.
The simple silhouettes are meant to create an emotional connection with viewers, and the arrangement of animals is intentionally overwhelming. “I wanted to create a feeling like you’re being overpowered by the animals,” says Andrews. It was a feeling he continually experienced on safari. At one park, he watched as wildebeest approached a river, and crocodiles, hearing them, lined up in preparation. Lions waited nearby. Then baboons sounded an alarm, and the wildebeest bolted.
“It’s not like going to a zoo here, where it’s like, here’s an animal on its own,” he says. “There’s actually an enormous amount of complexity, in terms of how the animals related to one another.”
Andrews recently won the Data Stories competition for a video based on the infographic. Watch here: