Safari Central

Safari Central was launched in August of 2017 with an app that brings people closer to animals at risk through augmented reality and photography. Using one’s cell phone, a grizzly bear, for example, begins to walk on a nearby surface or stand up next to somebody else in the frame, almost becoming a real part of the environment. Users are actively encouraged to snap photos with their animal of choice and share it over social media. Pictures show a woman on a mountaintop standing toe-to-toe with a grizzly, a man yawning in synch with a cheetah, and an elephant walking down the streets during the New York City marathon; in general, the pictures show what would appear to be genuine enthusiasm for the animals they are virtually interacting with. As of August 2019, there were over 180,000 users— concentrated in the US, India, and Brazil— who had snapped and posted 100,000 photos. Like other experiences that seek to create a sense of awe, the app can engender a false sense of security. Every animal that they chose to be a part of their app is threatened either directly through dwindling population numbers, climate change, or habitat loss. However, it does not appear that users are given information that could prompt action beyond snapping a photo that could actually aid in conservation, which seriously dampens the efficacy of this app beyond being a cool experience.


Aesthetic/Leisure, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Ecological Modelling, Immersive Technology, Psychology, Visual Technologies