Do you know which species of animals are indigenous to your area? Artist Anton Thomas has created a pictorial map that is both educational and stunning to look at. Titled Wild World, this large-scale piece is hand-drawn in colored pencil and pen, requiring three years to complete from start to finish.
From American bison to the kangaroos of Australia, this map features 1,642 animals across all seven continents, and the oceans that separate them. “I wanted to display our world through a different lens than we're used to. A perspective that celebrates the majesty of nature, the wild animals we share this planet with, and the ecosystems that support such diversity of life,” Thomas tells My Modern Met. “I hoped that such a map, if done well, would help inspire curiosity and love for our planet and its nature. While also being an excellent educational resource.”
To ensure that the basic structure of the map was accurate, Thomas used a Natural Earth projection as a template. He traced over the basic outlines of the coastlines, rivers, and mountain ranges, before slowing building up his own artistic touch to the drawing. “I settled on three criteria that came to shape the philosophy of the map. All animals on Wild World are 1) wild, 2) native, and 3) extant—not extinct,” Thomas says. “Wild and native animals invoke natural biomes only—pristine habitats without domesticated or introduced species.”
Unlike many other maps, which emphasize national boundaries and city streets, this piece focuses on what makes our planet special: the beautiful diversity of nature. Thomas chose to only illustrate extant animals because he wanted Wild World to depict our world as it is now and that we need to care for. He says: “It may seem an idealistic view of Earth, but it shows nothing that isn’t there. I want this map to inspire hope and curiosity, to show just how wild our world still is, and how much is left to protect.”
You can purchase prints of Wild World via Thomas's online shop.