Wildlife Protection Solutions (WPS) is an international conservation non-profit based in Denver, Colorado, that works to provide national parks with the tools they need to monitor and protect the animals within reserves from poaching. They firmly believe that technology is the best way to protect wildlife, and to that end apply computer vision, virtual reality, camera traps, and all manner of tools to situations where their expertise is requested. A byproduct of all of this work is an extensive archive of 360-degree videos, videos, and pictures from around the world that have, in the past few years, become the groundwork for modelling virtual environments for immersive experiences for WPS, along with other companies and conservationist societies interested in utilizing virtual reality. There is, for example, an experience where one can have a bit of buffoonery with Sumantran Orangutans, or roam with the Cape Buffalo. All of their footage and material is available for free because WPS believes in the power of VR to inspire the public and motivate conservationist attitudes worldwide. While their intentions are benevolent, and they have made an effort to democratize access to their data, WPS also appears to have fallen into a common trend amongst conservationist organizations and visual experiences that seek to highlight nature by shining a light on the more “flashy” species, or charismatic megafauna. These species, like rhinos, giraffes, wildebeests, and lions all capture the popular imagination and are easily identifiable. But the number of species at risk is so much greater than just the charismatic megafauna, and all the rest of the tens of thousands of species at risk for extinction receive a fraction of the public’s attention if any. There is a utility in using popular species to attract attention, but there is also a serious risk of forgetting that the risk of extinction extends far beyond popular animals.


Aesthetic/Leisure, Biodiversity, Illegal Resource Extraction, Immersive Technology, Lifestyle