OCTOBER 16th 2017, Nairobi

  • Hundreds of entries from around the world through a unique app
  • The competition and app are the result of a partnership between conservation organisations to engage new audiences with wildlife
  • The app features six real animals living in the wild, represented in Augmented Reality
  • App raises funds for animal charities in Africa and Americas

A world-first Augmented Reality photo competition has resulted in hundreds of submissions from around the globe. Photos depict, amongst others, a rhino roaming the Louvre and blocking traffic in Bangalore, selfies of people of all ages roaring along with a jaguar, and tiny tots getting up close and personal with a grizzly bear.


The photos were taken by users on their own smartphones using Safari Central, an Augmented Reality app by gaming company Internet of Elephants (IoE) developed in partnership with six renown conservation organisations: Space for Giants, Conservation International, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Pro-Carnivores, Chicago Zoological Society, and Tswalu Foundation. The app has been downloaded thousands of times since its launch at the end of August.


A panel of celebrity judges (wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein, activist and writer Bittu Sahgal and actress and conservation ambassador Anna Friel) choose the winning photo. It depicts Mweturia, a bull elephant living in Kenya, meeting a life sized elephant on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. The photo was taken by Richard Gudz from Pennsylvania, USA. Gautam Shah, founder of IoE: “Some submitted photos are funny, others tell stories about our relationships with animals, and many make a poignant statement about conservation. The winning photo has all three: there is the joke of seeing a virtual elephant meeting an elephant display, an interaction with the humans in the majestic museum space, and you can’t help but wonder if this is the only way we will see these animals in the future: as artefacts of a species that used to roam the world freely.”

Richard Gudz won a seven day trip to South Africa with a three day stay at Tswalu, a private game reserve in the Kalahari, to meet Rockstar the Pangolin, one of the stars of Safari Central, in person.

Real animals living in the wild become AR stars

Though the app is made to have fun, it has a serious purpose. IoE believes more people will support conservation if they can experience an emotional bond with individual animals living thousands of miles away. Conservation partners shared their data with IoE to create Augmented Reality (AR) versions of the real animals they research and protect, including Mweturia the Elephant and Lola the Rhino living in Kenya, Atiaia the Jaguar (living in the Atlantic Forest in Brasil), Bebi the Lemur (living in Madagascar), Rockstar the Pangolin (at home in the Kalahari dessert) and Ethyl the Grizzly (roaming the northern US). While playing, app users learn more about the real animal’s individual stories and can contribute directly to their conservation by purchasing more photo film.


Innovation in conservation

Gautam Shah, founder of IoE: “There is little time left for many species and habitats so it’s all hands on deck. We need to experiment with innovative technologies and collaborate across organisations in order to reach the big audiences we need to turn the tide.”

“We are absolutely thrilled about this project because it is an extremely clever way to get a lot of people interested in conservation really quickly. The fact that this app features real animals that have real stories will make a huge difference in raising interest in our projects,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s CEO.

“The Atlantic Forest is in risk of losing its top predator - the jaguar. There's only 1% left of this specie and we need to protect it urgently. What a better way to do it then raising awareness through a fun and engaging way!”, Mauricio Voivodic, Executive Director, WWF-Brazil.

"With the scale of the challenge facing wildlife across the world, particularly in Africa, we need to continuously find better ways to engage people and policy makers,” said Michael O'Brien-Onyeka, Senior Vice President, Africa Field Division, Conservation International. “Safari Central offers us a huge opportunity to do this."

Full game set for release in 2018

Safari Central’s AR animals will go on to feature in a full game, scheduled for release in the summer of 2018. The fulll game will use GPS data of the animals’ movements across their territories – a jaguar patrolling the Brazilian rainforest, perhaps, or an elephant browsing Kenya's savannah - and overlay it to players cities. Players can track their movements and spot the animals' avatars, picking up insights into their behaviour and lives along the way.


Notes to Editors
Safari Central is available for Apple and Android and is free to download. To learn more and download the app please go to www.safaricentralgame.com

are available royalty free for features regarding Safari Central. Please find a selection of low and high resolution images through our Google Drive Folder.

Contact us

Gautam Shah, founder Internet of Elephants
+31 6 10 70 30 87