Did you know that there are only around 60 Amur leopards left in the wild? This is just one of the many shocking statistics that Imgur user JJSmooth44 visualizes in his blurry animal photo series. Each endangered species is visually represented in as many pixels as there are animals still alive. “The more pixelated the image,” the artist explains, “the closer it is to extinction.”
JJSmooth44 was inspired by a similar series made for World Wildlife Fund in 2008 called WWF Japan – Population by pixel. Creative directors Nami Hoshino, Yoshiyuki Mikami, and designer Kazuhiro Mochizuki (of Hakuhodo C&D / Tokyo agency) are the creatives behind the original concept, but JJSmooth44’s version is just as poignant. He writes, “I did it as a programming challenge.”
Scrolling through the series reveals just how close some species are to extinction. With each animal symbolized as a colored square, some images don’t even have enough pixels to make a clear image. Now with only 600-650 Indochinese tigers left in the wild, the species is represented as an indistinct grid of orange and brown pixels. One of the clearer images include the Asian elephant, which has an estimated population of 40,000-50,000. Although the Asian elephant seems to be doing better than the other animals in the series, the species is believed to have declined by at least 50% over the last three generations.
Check out JJSmooth44’s series below. These animals might disappear sooner than we think.