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THE CASE FOR CREATIVES: Why Conservation Needs Artists by

A. Rose Sauer

A Thesis presented for the degree of Master of Arts in SCIENTIFIC ILLUSTRATION ZUYD University of Applied Sciences and Maastricht University Maastricht, The Netherlands


COLOPHON Cover illustration

Lions and Whales Oh My by Ashley Rose Sauer

Coeditors Rogier Trompert, Medical illustrator/Program Director/Teacher, Master Scientific Illustration (MSI) Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Arts Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Arno Lataster MSc. Vice head of the Department of Anatomy & Embryology Maastricht University (UM), Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Greet Mommen, Medical illustrator at the Department of Anatomy & Embryology Maastricht University (UM), Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Jacques Spee, former Head/ Teacher Master Scientific Illustration (MSI) Zuyd University, Faculty of Arts Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Ilse Wielage, Fine Art Professional, Study career counsellor, Teacher Master Scientific Illustration (MSI) Zuyd University, Faculty of Arts Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Dirk Traufelder, Medical illustrator, Teacher Master Scientific Illustration (MSI) Zuyd University, Faculty of Arts Maastricht, The Netherlands.

External supervisor

Big Cat Biologist. Alexander Braczkowski, domiciled in South Africa EsmĂŠe Winkel, Pepijn Kamminga, and Becky Desjardins at Naturalis

Design text and illustrations Printer

Ashley Rose Sauer

Walters BV, Maastricht, The Netherlands

ISBN 978-94-92741-39-4 Copyright 2020 Ashley Rose Sauer All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the author.

[Contact information student] email: arosesauer@gmail.com website: arosesauer.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS [Preface]............................................................................................................................5 Introduction......................................................................................................................6

Conservation & Illustration........................................................................................7 Human-Wildlife Conflict............................................................................................8 The Impact of Visuals.................................................................................................9 Study of two Cases...................................................................................................11 Method Comparison.................................................................................................11

The Projects....................................................................................................................12

Coastal Conflict: Whale Strandings....................................................................13 Research..............................................................................................................14 Needs...................................................................................................................16 Approach.............................................................................................................17 Artistic Research................................................................................................17 Execution.............................................................................................................19 Prides & Prejudice: Snaring of African Lions...................................................22 Research..............................................................................................................23 Needs...................................................................................................................26 Approach.............................................................................................................27 Artistic Research................................................................................................27 Execution.............................................................................................................29

Impact ..............................................................................................................................36

Relevance of Illustration to Conservation...........................................................36 Use of Design & Marketing for Creating an Agenda.........................................36 Drawing a Comparison............................................................................................37

Conclusion......................................................................................................................38 Acknowledgements..................................................................................................38

Bibliography..................................................................................................................39 ďżź


PREFACE My love for animals is what has driven me to choose my career path in scientific illustration and attend this Master’s program. I have had great appreciation for wildlife since I was young, and as I continue to learn more about the world and what is happening to ecosystems across the planet, I find it increasingly hard to ignore the severity of the situation humanity has created. Last year when I was in my first year of study here in the Netherlands, my hometown in California was in danger of being engulfed by flames of ravaging fires sweeping across vast regions of the entire state. I called my evacuated family and listened to their fears of our house burning while I sat helpless on the other side of the globe. When I returned home later that year after the fires had been controlled, I drove through the familiar hillsides to see them scorched and brown, with blackened trees and dead vegetation that stretched for miles. Today as I am writing this, fires are blazing uncontrollably in Australia, and are being set with intention in the Amazon rainforest, burning massive expanses of land. These fires all pose a terrible threat to the wildlife that inhabit these ecosystems, unable to escape the fast-moving flames. Fires are just one example of extreme weather caused by climate change that is endangering species all over the world, and climate change is only one factor of human-caused threats facing animals. The reality of environmental crises can no longer be ignored; there are noticeable symptoms on every continent in some form, with wildlife suffering from various causes. Controversy still remains surrounding the vulnerability of nature, and indifference plagues human behavior. It can be easy to see the peril the world is in and become overwhelmed with the “doom and gloom” of it all and embrace ignorance and apathy to ease the hardships of existence. But we are in a crucial moment of time when action or inaction makes all the difference in determining the fate of our planet. I believe that inspiring a deep passion for wildlife and breaking down the barriers between humanity and nature especially in future generations holds much greater opportunity for change than disheartening people’s optimism. There is a fine line to walk between scientific skepticism and hopeful fantasy, but when it comes to influencing collective behavior, inspiration is the best chance for positive change rather than forcing bitter compromise. I have dedicated my career to contributing to conservation and sustainability through my passion for illustrating in order to help bring needed awareness and outreach to work that protects animals. The preservation of biodiversity concerns everyone, and therefore requires a collective effort to create lasting change.


INTRODUCTION The field of scientific illustration has a long-standing history in its purpose of informing and visualizing science. Perhaps its most common reputation is the concentration of medical illustration that depicts subjects like surgery and anatomy for education, or biological representations in textbooks and journals. In reality, this profession includes a wide range of possible disciplines that are limitless in creative potential, reaching far beyond only anatomical depictions. Whatever the subject matter, visualizations must always serve a purpose in telling a story. This purpose must be clear at the core of any project in order to have direction for the illustrations, whether clarifying an otherwise complex and messy surgical procedure, visualizing a scientific concept, or anything else imaginable. I strive to maintain this sense of purpose consistently within my own work. The visual storytelling of this Master’s thesis will centralize around conservation biology and contribute to scientists who have dedicated their careers to studying and protecting our planet’s indispensable wildlife. In this thesis, the possibilities of scientific illustration will be expanded beyond the conventional applications and examined to discern what methods are possible and advantageous for this field of science. Through my research I have learned how essential visual storytelling is to gaining awareness for an important issue and inspiring change. Illustration has diverse potential in benefiting conservationists, such as community involvement, marketing, creating awareness, and scientific support and education. The creative process is invaluable to science, and through this thesis I hope to gain insight into the ways that visual problem solving can serve conservation agendas and the people working to find solutions for conflicts between humans and wildlife.

figure 1: illustration of photograph by Alexander Brackzcows

6 Introduction



figure 2: Islands & Seas scientists in Baja California

Conservation biology describes the efforts of scientists to preserve our planet’s biodiversity and protect wildlife that is threatened by human behavior. Forms of threats that face animals vary around the world depending on a species’ environment and their relationship with people. Animals are facing the imminent possibility of extinction not just from climate change, but from countless forms of direct human action, making it imperative for people to take responsibility in combating these effects. Biodiversity is invaluable to the collective health of this planet and concerns humanity’s wellbeing in addition to animals and wildlife. Conservationists and scientists are doing the needed work of researching species in order to gain more insight about biodiversity and how to protect it (fig. 2). The distribution of their research for both education within the scientific community and awareness within the general public is crucial for spreading the importance of their message and their scientific findings. Illustration serves this purpose through visually translating scientific information to add clarity, context, and intrigue to research (fig. 3, 4). Visualizations can provide anatomical or biological elaborations of a species, as well as illustrate broader concepts or behavioral patterns in a creative way. Illustrations can provide insight to a subject that otherwise might not have an impact by appealing to a viewer’s visual thinking. Creating this deeper connection with a conservation cause can greatly influence its ability to inspire passion among people for nature. Generating this passion especially in future generations is crucial to create support for science and avoid indifference, and it is why so many scientific organizations such as museums, documentaries, and magazines rely so heavily on visuals to inspire viewers.

While images designed to assist conservation can attempt to influence the behavior of individuals, the more important advantage is gaining enough public and scientific backing to generate a plan of action for a cause (Smith). This means that funding from stakeholders and donations can support the efforts of scientists and bring enough attention to an issue to generate momentum of concrete action. Using illustration to bring funding and awareness to conservation issues ensures that science doesn’t stand alone. It is well known that the planet is in increasing danger from many human-caused crises, but clearly this knowledge alone is often not enough to change individual behavior. Every method possible must be used to combat mass extinction, as the health of the planet affects everyone. Creating multifaceted solutions and interdisciplinary approaches is the best way to involve diverse problem-solving tactics and generate real change.

figure 3: rattlesnake photographed in Baja California

figure 4: illustrated rattlesnake page in Islands & Seas field guide

Introduction 7

HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICT On a global scale, people are becoming increasingly aware of the effect they have on the planet. Climate change is posing threats across the globe with increasingly extreme weather events, excessive plastic waste is contributing to worldwide ocean pollution, and deforestation and habitat loss are driving mass extinctions. These grand-scale risks to the health of the planet encompass global dynamics of complex systems and require just as complex and multifaceted solutions. While such daunting problems can feel incredibly overwhelming as an individual, it is important to remember the interconnectedness of the planet and the link between humanity and nature, and the fact that these realms are not as separate as they may feel. Humans are contributing to the decline of our global ecosystem’s health, but there are smaller scale dynamics happening all around the world in which humans pose a direct threat to wildlife. It is important to recognize that humans are the cause of such crises at both global and local levels, and so humans can also be the solution. While of course everyone who cares about the environment wants to change the world, getting involved in community-based outreach to help tackle smaller-scale environmental issues is an attainable form of making a difference in a meaningful and quantifiable way. This can create lasting effects for the betterment of relationships between humans and wildlife.

The field of human-wildlife conflict encompasses the dynamic of the persecution of a species as a result of people’s livelihood or safety being threatened by that species (Human). Animals are often killed in retaliation for posing a threat to people’s wellbeing, and this field of study investigates solutions to overcome this conflict. Human-wildlife conflict is a complex area of scientific research, as each case of conflict is unique for many reasons. When studying the interaction between humans and wildlife and creating solutions, it is essential to acknowledge the specific cultural, social, economic, and political dynamics of the region being studied (Smith). These factors play an important role in how people may view or interact with wildlife and the species in question. Ignoring such specific dynamics can lead to uninformed decision making when it comes to resolving conflicts, causing unforeseen negative effects that undermine the intention. There is no generic or easy answer in any case of human-wildlife conflict. It is therefore necessary to gain perspective and involvement of the local communities in the area of conflict, which is an important responsibility of scientists in this field. It goes beyond studying one species, and instead must understand the relationship people have with wildlife in order to contribute to conflict resolution. Benefits of solutions must apply to both people and the specified animal (Human). Creativity therefore plays an indispensable role in the field of human-wildlife conflict and creating community-based change. This field is just one example within the vast cause of conservation. Reasons for a species to be in danger of extinction can vary, and recognizing the cause is essential for protecting endangered animals. The role of scientists in fields like human-wildlife conflict becomes increasingly important, and it is vital to prioritize creativity and collaboration when contributing to those researching ways to protect animals suffering from human action.

figure 5

8 Introduction

THE IMPACT OF VISUALS & ART Artistic representation in the field of science has more possibilities of application than is often realized. While art and science are often viewed as vastly different realms, they share crucial similarities and offer countless benefits to each other. Both art and science are driven by fascination and creativity, and art is often influenced by the natural world or scientific concepts. Forms of art can also influence science; when we look at science fiction, concepts like space travel, artificial intelligence, and gene editing were once only a subject in novels, but today have become scientific realities. Even the creative process mimics the scientific method, as both are sparked by curiosity and explored through testing different techniques. The link between science and art is relevant in conservation because of the infinite benefits artistic approaches can offer scientific advancement. While scientific illustration can depict a species’ behavior, biology, or anatomy, artistic mediums can also provide needed community involvement in conservation efforts. Art can also bring awareness to a cause in order to assist in funding and creating an agenda. This means that using art in more than one form can create diversity in how conservation issues are approached and allow the development of broader solutions (Smith).

figure 7 (Barman)

poor public standing that people even poisoned them and destroyed their nests out of fear and distaste for their unlucky reputation. This all changed when Barman engaged the community of Dadara village and created an all-women conservation group that works to protect the Greater Adjutant and change its role in local culture (fig. 7). They raise awareness for the storks through traditional rituals, while benefiting from new forms of sustainable livelihood such as making scarves with depictions of the storks (fig 6). These birds have become a point of pride in this community. This coupled with Barman’s ecological initiatives has made Assam a point of refuge for the Greater Adjutant, helping them to dramatically recover in numbers (Barman). Artistic involvement in conservation efforts can benefit not only the specific animal, but also the people that coincide in its range.

figure 6 (Barman)

Community art is invaluable to protecting animals locally, especially when a species is being threatened because of local people’s attitude towards that animal. Local art and media can offer a positive outlook on an animal that might have a negative reputation in a community. This can help to change the overall perspective towards the species, and inspire people to take pride in protecting it. In Assam, India, conservation biologist Dr. Purnima Devi Barman is working for this very purpose (International). Barman has helped make this northeastern state a point of refuge for what was once the world’s most endangered stork. The Greater Adjutant once ranged throughout South Asia, but this bone-swallowing, lanky bird had such

figure 8 (About)

Cultural art that contributes to conservation efforts can reach far beyond the community where it originates. In Africa, snares set by people to catch animals pose a deadly threat to many different species. Organizations are working to remove the snares and prevent further setting of traps, but overcoming this problem requires a diverse set of approaches and involvement. One woman has taken the opportunity to find a use for the disabled snares

Introduction 9

by repurposing them artistically. Kate Wilson is the founder of Mulberry Mongoose, a jewelry company that uses locally sourced materials and repurposed snares to create unique and beautiful pieces that can be ordered and shipped around the world (fig 8). Not only does the jewelry remodel the once deadly figure 9, 10 snares into something beautiful (fig 9, 10), Mulberry Mongoose also makes donations to antipoaching patrols responsible for removing the snares from the wild, and employs local craftswomen in an area with high unemployment rates. This creative company engages people globally in a community-driven cause, sharing their story while empowering women and contributing to conservation. In addition to artistic cultural engagement, awareness of conservation efforts can be spread through the use of informative illustration that is educational about threatened species. In 2017, I worked with arachnologist Dr. Lauren Esposito to produce an illustrated field guide that depicted native species of Baja California Sur, Mexico for the purpose of distribution in local figure 11: field guide cover schools to generate awareness of this ecosystem’s biodiversity and the importance of protecting it (fig. 11). The field guide offered insights to many native species to help clarify widespread uncertainties in their reputations. For example, many people in this region would kill a snake on sight for fear of danger, even though the only venomous species in Baja Sur is rattlesnakes. Illustrating the diverse animals of this ecosystem in a biological and informative way made these creatures that would ordinarily be seen at a

10 Introduction

distance have more clarity and beauty by showing them up close in illustrated detail. Using art and multimedia approaches to help conservation efforts is essential to not only communicate the biology of animals, but to involve communities in multidisciplinary collaboration and positively influence cultural perspective towards threatened species. Marketing tactics can also be applied to conservation efforts to bring attention to a cause, which is often needed to gain a wider audience and funding from stakeholders. While advertising to public audiences often doesn’t lead to changes in people’s behavior, increased attention and interaction with a cause can improve its backing and help generate funding to create a plan of action for conservation (Smith). While using techniques of marketing and artistic mediums in science can often be viewed skeptically within the scientific community, the urgency of the global extinction crisis calls for every tool in our collective toolbelt. Science alone is not enough to overcome the challenges the planet is facing, and the progression of species decline despite excessive knowledge of the reality of this crisis speaks for itself. It is time to become creative in how we protect our planet and acknowledge the indispensable role that art and illustration have in protecting nature.

figure 12: page in illustrated field guide

STUDY OF TWO CASES Conservation biology is an incredibly broad field, encompassing animals of all different ecosystems. Every case of preserving a species is unique and requires individual attention for its particular problem-solving needs. For this reason, I have chosen to compare two topics within the field of conservation and explore how illustration can be used in different ways to contribute to a specific cause. As each case has individual complexities, there is no one approach that can be applied to every instance of illustrating for conservation. The two case studies in this project will therefore be compared in their methods of approach to discern why certain techniques are chosen, and how the creative process can be broken down into essential steps when evaluating the needs of a conservation cause. As solutions must reflect the complex dynamics that play a role in human-animal interaction, employing diverse multimedia tactics can only strengthen efforts to create change. Whale Strandings on the Dutch Coast (p. 13) Snares Threatening African Lions (p. 22)

METHOD COMPARISON These two topics vary greatly both in the species’ ecosystems and their relationship with human interaction. Juxtaposing such vastly different cases of conservation is beneficial to show the incredible variance of illustration’s potential. While the methods and techniques of illustration and design will be unique for each approach, the process of decision making for each project will be evaluated and simplified to draw comparisons in the steps used to find visual solutions and what questions are necessary to ask. By streamlining the creative process of deciding what the illustration or visual needs of a conservation cause are, the central questions asked during these steps can be refined for application to any conservation topic that benefits from visualizations. The insight gained from studying what can be compared in this creative process is designed to further support the importance of creativity in conservation efforts.

Introduction 11




At the start of my project, I set out with the goal of finding scientists who were actively contributing to conservation biology, and so I approached the Netherlands’ national research institute for biodiversity: Naturalis. This natural history museum houses a massive collection of specimens with beautiful displays of various aspects of biodiversity and is notorious for its scientific research contributions. When contacting the research department, I was put in touch with Esmée Winkel, a botanical illustrator who attended my same Master’s program years prior. After asking around about conservation related topics, she put me in touch with part of the team responsible for studying marine mammals that beach on the coast of the Netherlands after swimming into the North Sea. Whenever a whale washes onto the shore, this Naturalis team goes to the site of the stranding to take tissue samples and dissect the animal at the scene, as well as to exhume the skeleton for inclusion in their museum collection (fig. 17, 18).

Esmée arranged for me to meet two members of this team, Becky Desjardins and Pepijn Kamminga, who are both scientists at Naturalis. When talking to them, I realized how much uncertainty there was surrounding why whales strand at this location. Before meeting with them, I had found many conflicting sources as to what is happening to cause these animals to beach. Becky and Pepijn explained to me how these answers will be uncertain until research is furthered to understand this phenomenon’s complexities. I learned that many organizations besides Naturalis were working to examine the species that strand in order to better understand the cause of death, and that multidisciplinary studies of these animals are essential for answering questions and contributing to their preservation. Because of this, my method of approach began to center around creating visuals that contributed to the awareness of this subject within the Netherlands to help this museum gain support from local people where this is happening.



figure 13

After talking with Becky, Pepijn, and EsmĂŠe, I began to look into what is known about marine mammals stranding on the Dutch Coast. We decided for the purposes of this project, the illustrations would center around the most common whales that strand at this location, which are sperm whales, minke whales, common finwhales and humpbacks, of which two would be illustrated during this thesis. I began researching the first whale that I would illustrate, the sperm whale, to learn more about its biology and why it strands at this location.

figure 14

Sperm whales are the largest toothed whale, measuring up to 18 meters in length and weighing up to 50 tons (fig. 14) (Sperm Whale). Their name is derived from spermaceti, a waxy substance in their heads that these whales were hunted for in the 19th century for use in candles and oils. Since they have become protected, these whales are still listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. While these whales occur all around the world, the instance of them stranding


off the coast of the Netherlands has been happening for centuries. Researchers are still trying to discern the factors that lead to the circumstances of them becoming stranded, though it is clear why it happens at this location. Sperm whales often travel in groups known as pods, and have seasonal figure 15 migrations for breeding and mating. While females stay in tropical and subtropical waters year-round, males migrate towards their equatorial breeding grounds from colder climates in the north. Males hunt for squid at up to 3000 meters deep in the waters surrounding Norway (fig. 15) and will migrate south by swimming East around the UK (Weezel). Sometimes these whales will become misdirected and swim into the North Sea that borders the Netherlands (fig. 16), where their sonar is unable to detect the gentle sloping sandbank, causing them to become stranded. This is why only males strand at this location as females do not inhabit this area. This location has been a site of sperm whale strandings for centuries because of the North Sea’s geography and gentle sloping coastline (Smeenk). Many questions still surround why these whales become misdirected


figure 16

and what leads to them washing ashore. One of the reasons that the occurrence of strandings can be so detrimental to sperm whale populations is because they often happen in mass numbers, with the largest ever recorded mass stranding event occurring in 2016 over six weeks involving 30 beached whales along the coastline of countries bordering the North Sea (IJsseldijk). Because of the high number of whales in this instance and their occurrence in different countries, extensive international research was done to investigate what caused all of these animals to become stranded. Many different factors were looked into to determine the whales’ cause of death and why they became misdirected into the North Sea, including pathogens, stomach content, environmental factors, and anthropogenic influence, but these results were inconclusive for determining why these animals entered the North Sea and became stranded. These animals showed no significant signs of disease or trauma, and though different pathogens as well as plastic contents were found, these were determined to not be the cause of their deaths. Many sources refer to ocean noise or plastic pollution as potential human caused interferences that may contribute to a whale becoming stranded, but while many whales that wash ashore have ingested plastic and some species of cetaceans that strand are known to become disoriented from naval sonar, these factors are not able to be conclusively linked to sperm whales becoming misdirected or stranded (Ijsseldijk). While most sources highlight how the diversity of factors that play a role in a sperm whale strandings makes it difficult to discern one clear causation (Waarom), there is one area of research that has found a significant correlation between an environmental occurrence and heightened periods of stranding events. A paper from 2005 investigates the role of solar activity in the habits of sperm whales, finding that there is a significant statistical link between fluctuations of sunspot cycles and sperm

whale stranding events (Vanselow). It remains a question whether sperm whales use the Earth’s magnetic field to assist their navigation, and this paper notes that other species such as birds and other cetaceans are known to do so. If this were the case with sperm whales, it would make sense that solar activity affecting the Earth’s magnetic field would throw off these animal’s navigation and momentarily misdirect them, which would explain why they deviate from their normal migratory path into the North Sea at these times of altered sun spot cycles. The authors of this investigation point out that it is difficult to draw a distinct conclusion from this correlation because it isn’t known if these animals use this system for their navigation, and while it might be a factor, there are still many other environmental components that play a role in stranding events. A majority of the material available on this subject consistently highlights how multifaceted the factors surrounding sperm whale strandings are, and why it is so essential for research to be multidisciplinary in order to better understand the complexities of these events (Smeenk; IJsseldijk). In the Netherlands, many organizations contribute to this research. Naturalis has been commissioned by the Dutch government to investigate these stranding events, with a team of their researchers going to the site of a stranding to dissect and take tissue samples of the whale in order to learn more about their biology and subsequent cause of death (Whale). The team from Naturalis is also responsible for exhuming the skeleton for inclusion in their museum collection, which can be accessed by worldwide scientists who are contributing to the study of their anatomy, evolution, and biology. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University investigates the cause of death through autopsies of the whales, in which they examine organs and tissues for abnormalities, diseases, and pathogens. The stomach content of these animals is analysed by Wageningen Marine Research for assessment of diet, marine debris, and contaminants including plastic. The different areas of research that these organizations conduct contributes to a broader understanding of these whales in an effort to better understand how they live and what leads to their deaths in hopes of being more equipped to protect this vulnerable species.

figure 17: Naturalis team with beached whale (Whale)


figure 19: previous handouts used by Naturalis

NEEDS After first listening to the scientists at Naturalis about their knowledge and concerns regarding this issue and then further researching the topic myself, it then became my priority to discern their specific needs in regards to furthering their research and protecting the species in question. For the purposes of evaluating what kind of illustrations and visuals would benefit this conservation topic, I have narrowed the evaluation process into defining three things: the primary conservation issue, what is needed to improve the situation and who can make this happen, and how illustration can be used most effectively to contribute to this purpose. With the primary conservation issue in this topic being the stranding events of these whales, the concern centers around how little is known about why this is happening. With so much uncertainty, researchers strive to find answers and further advance scientific studies that contribute to a broader understanding of how to protect this species. The conservation needs therefore require increased

figure 18 (Whale)

funding and backing for the organizations responsible for this research. This can be accomplished by gaining the support of local people who can be patrons and supporters of research institutions like the Naturalis museum, through means of spreading awareness of what is known about stranding events when they happen. The illustrations that contribute to this project must therefore be accessible and engaging to public audiences rather than targeting scientific communities. The information will specifically be provided to bypassers of stranding events, since beachgoers who witness a washed up whale often approach the scene for information about what is happening. This makes it an important opportunity for scientists at the scene to provide education about


stranding research to those who actually see this happen and can patronize Dutch institutions. The visuals must convey basic information about the cetacean that has stranded and therefore has to be specific to the individual species since it will be displayed at the site of a stranding, meaning different visuals must be made for each whale that is known to strand at this location. The illustrations should serve as a reference point for bypassers to answer their questions about what they are seeing, while also calling attention to the team of researchers and Naturalis’ role. It must be as concise as possible with a museum-like approach of conveying scientific information in a captivating display where viewers can be intrigued and informed. Bringing attention to a conservation cause is essential for creating an agenda and furthering research (Smith). While the advertisement or education of a particular species or environmental issue will often not influence individual behavior in terms of changing one’s personal actions, it can be incredibly beneficial for a conservation issue to gain traction and support from local communities which can enable scientists to make a plan of action as well as gain funding for their necessary research. Funding of research in the institutions investigating whale strandings can greatly advance methods of approach to understanding the dynamics of these events, with possibilities such as tracking cetaceans, further investigating their navigation methods, and studying more correlations of environmental factors. This advancement can lead to understanding if and how humans can protect these animals, since they are in need of preservation as a vulnerable species.

APPROACH Given the conservation needs of this topic and the relevant application of visual aid, the illustration approach decided upon will involve the creation of large posters that display basic information about an individual species that has stranded on a beach, including information about what organizations are researching this occurrence and what is known about why it is happening. The medium of posters has been chosen over other options such as small printed handouts (fig. 19) because the utilization of a poster can serve as a large reference point that bypassers can simply walk up to and read while they are witnessing researchers dissect and investigate the massive animal on the shore. This allows for the team of researchers to simply bring the posters of each species to a stranding site and display the corresponding species’ poster upon arrival by hanging it on either the side of their vehicle or propped on an easel and then get to work investigating the whale, rather than handing out fliers. This also prevents having to reprint fliers every time, and allows viewers to have a reference point that they can get as much information from as they please. To allow for those who are more interested to have something to take away, the option of taking a picture of the poster is obviously an option, but there will also be a QR code that scans to the Naturalis website where a link to the national whale stranding database is. A large and captivating portrayal of the specific species will be at the top of each poster, drawing the attention of viewers much like the massive whale that they see on the beach. Seeing a beached whale doesn’t allow for a bypasser to see what the animal looked like in life, and so having an illustration of the species in a profile view with their defining biological traits can help to immediately grab attention and add

context to what a beachgoer is seeing. In the body of the poster, all of the basic information about the whale will be displayed, as well as context about who is at the beach dissecting and investigating. There will also be a section about why stranding events happen, where it will be explained what is known about these occurrences and how much research is still needed. This is where the QR code will be displayed, as a way of allowing the viewer to continue the story if they want to know more about what’s being done to answer these questions. By highlighting Naturalis’ role in research, the posters can incentivize viewers to patronize this museum or the Naturalis website and support the important role of researchers.

ARTISTIC RESEARCH With the idea of creating posters arranged, I began finding artistic inspiration in other forms of informative illustration and design. An obvious source of well-designed and informative illustrations was National Geographic, and so I opened my book of National Geographic Infographics to search for layouts and styles that could influence my approach. I found several examples of infographics that depicted marine species, which had dynamic layouts depicting the specific animal in a large central portrayal representative of the topic of the poster, with surrounding text and smaller graphics that had supporting information (fig 20). Having the animal depicted as the main central component of the layout worked to both draw attention as well as to quickly and visually convey the topic, and by having it positioned dynamically with different sized elements surrounding it in support made each component visually purposeful and engaging. Using graphics or illustrations to explain what the text is talking about allows a display to not rely solely on text, but to instead let information be gathered more cohesively from images. Translating information through images is highly beneficial for scientific concepts, as most people learn information visually.

figure 20 (National)


Doing this in a captivating and clear way is essential for the information to be read and understood.

figure 21 (Whitlatch)

In addition to the National Geographic examples of layout and illustration, I looked at works of artists like Terryl Whitlatch for reference of artistically pleasing depictions of anatomy and biology of different species (fig 21). She has several books in which she has illustrated comprehensive anatomy of many animals in a visually clear and beautiful style. For depictions of the whales in the posters, I looked at her style of depicting anatomical forms in combination with photos of whales underwater, as well as old and stylized depictions of whales. The main source of inspiration in this regard came from looking at illustrations for the story of Moby Dick, since the whale in this book was inspired by a sperm whale (fig. 22, 23). The idea of using a display at the site of a stranding came from personal experiences. I grew up in California and often visited different beaches

figure 22


figure 23

throughout the state, such as in Morro Bay where groups of sea otters are known to frequent. On weekends, a group of naturalists bring a display table to the shore with tactile information about sea otters where people walking along the coast can stop by to learn about this protected species. A taxidermied otter rests on the table that people can touch to feel their thick coat of fur, and different specimens of their food items are used to show how they eat. It was an engaging way to learn about the rafts of otters in view. Not far up the coast from this location, a different beach is home to a protected population of elephant seals that are roped off to be observed at a safe distance. Placards full of information including illustrations of these creatures line the rope barrier, so that as crowds of people watch the animals resting on the beach, they can read all about them and why they are protected. As soon as I learned about the whale strandings I pictured similar placards full of information lining the Dutch beaches, but because the location of a stranding can’t be predicted, the use of posters is much more practical for being brought to a stranding site with ease. For inspiration of the specific style of design that would be incorporated in the posters, I visited the Naturalis museum and looked at their website and advertisements to get a feel for the graphic identity of this institute. The style of their displays and website used simple and vibrant colors in their text with sans serif fonts and simple graphic shapes to highlight biodiversity and their collections in a modern and concise light. The text is minimal and supported heavily with pictures with generous negative space between elements, creating a bold impression of their brand and mission. With all of my references gathered, I was able to approach the creation of these posters with clear intentions. The specimen illustration of the whale will be the most central element of the posters by being displayed large and dynamically, with supporting elements composed below. A bold and concise title will accompany the whale, and graphic elements will aid the minimal text in the body of the posters to visually convey information.


figure 24

The species focused on for purposes of this thesis is the sperm whale, with the possibility of continuing the posters of other species after the extent of this program. A biological rendering of this whale was created with references of photographs of them underwater, as well as other illustrations for clarification of their defining characteristics (fig. 24). This is displayed front and center in the poster’s composition, placed at the top

26). Naturalis’ role is highlighted more thoroughly as this poster is for their use, with brief descriptions of the other two organizations. The anatomy depictions convey the research in a simplified depiction accompanied by small icons representative of the purposes of studying the corresponding anatomy. A museum icon accompanies the Naturalis section to represent the inclusion of the skeleton in their collection, a squid represents the stomach contents

figure 25

of the page and angled with its tail curving up and its head facing the right of the page to take the viewer into the content of the page dynamically. From left to right, information is displayed in a comprehensive order: the general information about this species is displayed first, with small graphics aiding the text to display the size and weight of the whale, as well as traits such as how deep they dive for food. Underneath this, the reader can learn about why the North Sea is such a hot spot for stranding events, with a map that visually explains the route of sperm whales’ migrations (fig. 16). In the middle of the poster, the research being done on these whales is explained through graphic depictions of their anatomy. An overall view of their basic anatomy is centered on the page (fig. 25), with highlights of certain parts displayed smaller underneath in correlation with which research institute is responsible for investigating them (fig.

that Wageningen Marine Research studies, and a depiction of pathogens shows what Utrecht University investigates in the autopsies. These icons and the anatomical depictions are kept very graphic and simplified because the purpose is to briefly explain who is researching what, rather than identify specific anatomical traits. On the right side of the poster, the viewer can last read about what is known about why these animals strand. Details of a whale being too heavy to transport and the occurrence of mass strandings are conveyed visually with small graphics to aid the brief text to keep the viewer visually engaged while reading. In the last portion of text on the page, the uncertainties of this phenomenon is explained to emphasize how important scientific research is, which is why the QR code leading to the Naturalis website is displayed here to take the viewer to further information.

figure 26




figure 27

PRIDES & PREJUDICE SNARES THREATENING AFRICAN LIONS When I set out at the start of this project with the intention of finding topics in conservation, I had a personal passion in mind of the preservation of wild cat species. Because of my natural love for cats from an early age, I have been very aware of the extreme population declines of so many wild cat species across the planet. I set out approaching organizations and researchers specialized in the conservation and research of big cats, and already had a scientist in mind to contact. I had been following the work of big cat biologist Alexander Braczkowski, who is a big name in the field of cat conservation due to his strong social media presence and affiliation with organizations like National Geographic (fig. 28). A documentary had even been made by Nat Geo following Alex on his expeditions in Uganda to research tree climbing lions (Tree Climbing Lions). I found Alex’s website about his career in researching and photographing big cats (fig. 29, 30), where his bio described his passion for the field and his priority of collaboration. Because of his positive attitude towards creativity and conservation, I reached out to him to learn about his current projects and see if his work could benefit from any kind of illustrations. He responded enthusiastically and told me about


his research on the threat of snaring that is facing African lions across the continent. This devastating practice of people setting snares to catch bushmeat ends up affecting many species of wildlife that it is not intended to, as it is impossible to control what kind of animals get stuck in the traps (Nuwer). Snares are becoming the biggest threat facing wild lions in Africa, and Alex is one of the researchers working to keep track of the numbers of lions in African countries to record how snaring affects populations. Considering how big of a problem snaring seemed to be, I was surprised I was not nearly as aware of it as other threats such as poaching or trophy hunting, which have widespread media presence. Alex explained to me that while trophy hunting is a terrible practice and has mass attention, it is widely regulated and often involves lions that are raised in captivity, making it a quantifiable problem. Snaring on the other hand affects wild lions, and has complex dynamics that vary between regions, making it far more difficult to measure the effects and to prevent because of its multifaceted components. I began to learn everything I could from Alex about how severely snares affect African lions, and what can be done to combat the effects.


figure 28 (Tree Climbing Lions)

Lions are a worldwide cultural symbol. Their stature looms with great power in society as an iconic and universal representation of strength, power, and courage. While this animal is of grand importance in our collective culture as humanity, they also play a biologically essential role in the ecosystems they inhabit as a keystone species in African savannahs. It is of worldwide and local concern to protect this vulnerable species, that has today vanished from 95% of its historic range and gone from over 200,000 wild lions over a century ago to only 20,000 (Heimbuch). Researchers like Alex are essential

for recording the population sizes of lions in order to keep track of their decline and study what is threatening wild prides in hopes of finding solutions. Alex has learned techniques of IDing lions, so that when he photographs them for his database he can identify which photos are of the same lion and thus understand how many specific individuals are in a pride and where they range. Keeping detailed records of where lion individuals are and how many pride members inhabit an area is essential for more accurate data of lion numbers to see how population sizes and ranges change over time. Alex’s photography and research has put him up close and personal with the reality of the threats that face

figure 30 (Nuwer)

figure 29, photograph by Alexander Braczkowski


lions, allowing him to see the dramatic effect of snares on their populations. Snares are a massive danger for animals in Africa, and pose complex challenges for prides of lions (Park). People living in rural areas will set snares to trap bushmeat, which are wild animals caught for the purpose of sustenance (Nuwer). Mass amounts of these traps are set all over Africa and are designed to be hidden in places frequented by animals, making them difficult to see with no control over what animal steps into them. This affects lions in a multitude of ways, both when lions themselves and species of their prey are snared (Braczkowski, Detecting). Because male and female lions play different roles in a pride dynamic, there are different repercussions when either is caught in a snare trap. If a female lion is snared and dies from the trap (fig. 31), her role as caretaker of her cubs is compromised. With females responsible for taking down prey, she can no longer hunt with the pride and contribute to feeding and protecting the cubs within the group. On average, lionesses will have litters of 2-4 cubs and have a total of approximately 12 in their lifetime (Harrington), and so when a young female lion is killed, her reproductive potential is lost which is detrimental for the needed recovery of lion populations (Braczkowski, Personal Interview). In contrast, male lions protect their pride from rival male coalitions and predators that figure 31 can threaten cubs (Harrington). Prides can vary greatly in size depending on the availability of resources, but on average can consist of roughly 15 lions including cubs, with around 2-3 males (Braczkowski, Personal Interview). Because of the low number of males in a pride compared to females, when one is killed or maimed by a snare, it gravely affects the safety of a pride which becomes vulnerable to rival males. Male lions will kill cubs that are not their own and take over a pride of females, thereby drastically affecting lion population numbers.


figure 32

While some animals are lucky enough to break free from a trap, their luck is often temporary as the wounds left from snares either leave permanent injuries or more often become fatal without medical attention (Tree). Because of the essential roles within pride dynamics, when even one male or female is killed it can have domino effects on the rest of a pride and the safety of cubs (fig. 32). When prey sources of lions are snared (fig. 33), the availability of prey can drastically decrease, causing lions to expand their range to hunt for other sources of food. This often leads lions to find animals on the land of farmers whose sole income is often dependent on their livestock (fig. 34, Hazzah). When a farmer’s

figure 33

cattle is killed by lions, it becomes necessary to protect their livelihood from what is viewed as pests, leading them to find no other option than retaliating by killing the lions that threaten their farm through poisoning or poaching, often wiping out entire prides. These retaliatory killings are obviously detrimental to lion populations since entire prides can be affected, but farmers often find no alternatives because lions

provide no economic benefit to them. Realizing that the people who live on land inhabited by lions have no financial benefit from their presence is essential to understand the dynamics of this problem. When approaching solutions, it is imperative to benefit not only the wellbeing of lions, but of the people that coinhabit their land (Inskip). While human-lion coexistence has both costs and benefits, the distribution is skewed so that governments, officials, and tourist or hunting organizations reap the rewards, with communities suffering the costs by losing their livestock (Hazzah). Since local people see little benefit from tolerating lions, solutions must incorporate financial impact so that people who are directly affected by lions can benefit from their presence through tourism and alternative sources of livelihood. This incentive-based conservation works to improve attitudes toward carnivores by balancing the distribution of benefits of their presence.

figure 34

Some areas have implemented offering insurance for livestock, allowing farmers to be reimbursed for their losses when a lion has attacked their animals (Hazzah). However, this is more of a temporary solution that approaches the issue after the fact rather than working preventatively, and is often privately or poorly funded. This makes it difficult to create lasting effects because if payment were to cease or have complications, people would go back to killing lions, as this approach alone is not proactive in changing the perspective people have towards lions, providing protection of livestock from lion attacks, and financially benefiting local communities from the presence of lions. While implementation of these insurance systems and making fences to protect livestock can work to help protect the livelihood of

farmers, in order to more effectively benefit both lions and communities, broader approaches are necessary to more fully encompass the complex dynamics of the relationship between lions and people in a way that prevents the killing of lions and benefits the people affected by them. While livestock insurance can have high costs and poor governance, a different program more effectively incorporates the values of communities in a conservation-centered approach (Hazzah). The Lion Guardians program employs people who live in areas affected by lions to monitor lion movements and numbers and engage communities in conservation efforts (fig. 35). These Guardians are traditional Maasai ilmurran, and often have histories of killing lions. Through influencing others not to kill lions, these community members can have a big impact on changing the cultural attitudes toward lions by emphasizing the repercussions of killing them and spreading awareness of how lions benefit communities through tourism and employment. This program also works to resolve conflicts through reducing livestock depredation while improving the tolerance of lions by incorporating local cultural values. Though success of this program is not ensured due to many variables affecting the distribution of the Guardians’ effects, it has been found to be most effective when implemented with other systems such as the livestock insurance. These incentive-based approaches to conservation work best in diverse combinations that incorporate specific dynamics and values of a community in order to find solutions from all angles (Hazzah; Inksip; Smith).

figure 35 (Nuwer)


NEEDS In evaluating the most beneficial illustration applications for this topic, I applied the same process for defining the needs of this conservation cause as explained in the whale section earlier. This involved discerning three things: the primary conservation issue, what is needed to improve the situation and who can make this happen, and how illustration can be used most effectively to contribute to this purpose. This project’s main conservation concern centralizes around the threat of snares facing lions in Africa and the surrounding complex dynamics of human-wildlife conflict. The approach to solutions must be just as multifaceted as the issue itself, and the illustrations used must reflect this. While solutions are currently being explored in Africa, implemented programs can often lack funding or support when working alone, making the combination of diverse solutions that are specific to each community necessary for lasting preventative change. Funding and awareness are thus essential needs of this cause for helping implement community-led initiatives and gaining support for the scientists working to record and protect lion populations. For this reason, illustrations made will have a broad approach for the ability to reach a wide range of target audiences, including the general public worldwide to raise awareness for this issue similarly to the attention poaching and trophy hunting have, as well as stakeholders who are able to contribute funding to this cause, while still also being applicable to communities within Africa where this human-wildlife conflict is actually taking place. Alex has a wide following on his social media platforms, making it a useful medium to spread his message of conservation and an opportunity to share the illustrations that will be produced. He also frequently collaborates with organizations that help to spread his message, such as TedX and National Geographic, making visuals an important addition to his presentations to both private stakeholders as well as to audiences.

specific knowledge base a target audience may have on the subject, as well as the best way to reach them and how to specify the intended outlets (Smith). This is why using social media platforms can be beneficial, as people who follow Alex or other cat related accounts clearly already care about big cats and conservation. Spreading awareness of snaring among audiences with a passion for these animals can be a good place to start when finding ways to share this information, which can also be accomplished through the involvement of big cat or conservation organizations that exist worldwide and contribute to the protection of these animals, such as Panthera, National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative, and SPOTS. Through making the illustrations accessible to people with a wide range of prior knowledge on this subject, it can be easier to adapt the visuals for different applications and audiences. This means that they must not only depict a lot of information in a captivating and clear way, but also be in a flexible medium for use in social media posts, presentations, or online pages. Most importantly, the visuals used must show the dynamics of snaring in a way that incorporates the perspective and reality of this situation within Africa so that it is relevant and beneficial for use where this conflict is actually happening. When marketing tactics are used to help a conservation cause through worldwide distribution of information, simplifying an instance of humanwildlife conflict so that it is a concise call to action can unintentionally undermine the values and specific reality of the people where the conflict is happening (Inskip). Making a call to action understandable to broad and multicultural audiences while maintaining specific cultural values can be challenging but is necessary for creating awareness both locally and globally.

In spreading a message to people “worldwide”, it can be difficult to discern both the

figure 36


APPROACH The realities of this problem are complex and multifaceted, and to reflect these intricacies, a multimedia infographic will be created with graphic depictions of the statistics of this conflict accompanied by illustrations of what this means lions go through with snaring. By using a graphically designed infographic accompanied with detailed story illustrations, the realities of this problem can be explored in their complexity, with interactive capabilities allowing the viewer to get as much or as little information out of the visual as desired. The infographic will display the overarching description of the threat of snaring, and clickable features will launch the more immersive illustrated stories of what the statistics actually mean is happening to wild lions, while also including the perspective of local people so as to not villainize farmers who kill lions in retaliation, as they are protecting their livelihood with little other options. This enables the infographic to work as a whole, existing online where any viewer can click through it, or to be separated into parts depending on who it is being presented to and in what way, such as instagram posts versus a presentation with an audience. Using this simplified yet compartmental approach is designed to reflect the complexities of the human-wildlife conflict surrounding snaring in an engaging and unique storytelling device for diverse audiences.

ARTISTIC RESEARCH Design is a crucial element of this project and must be integrated seamlessly with illustration. To be engaging and appealing to wide audiences, making pleasing designs in a modern and unique style is essential, and must work in combination with the tactic of creating empathy through storytelling illustrations. For this reason, I sought inspiration from both graphic design sources as well as stylized drawing techniques that characterize and add personality to the subjects of a story. figure 39

figure 37

Before starting this project, I had two books in my collection that served to greatly inspire my decided approach. My desired graphic style was influenced by a book in the Flying Eye Books collection entitled Crazy About Cats, illustrated by artist Owen Davey (fig. 38). I purchased a copy of this when I happened to see it in a bookstore because I couldn’t stop flipping through the pages. This artist uses a unique style of graphic design to depict many diverse species of wild cats in a way that shows their defining characteristics without being reliant on photorealism. Having fun with the designs makes reading about these creatures intriguing and addicting, as each page explores new layouts, colors, and designs to showcase the fascinating qualities of cat species. Owen Davey uses this unique style in his series of Flying Eye Books to showcase the beauty of biodiversity and inspire curiosity about many different species. I looked at his works in addition to James Gilleard who illustrated the book Saving Species, which showcases biodiversity in captivating designs and illustrations with a call to conservation. Using beautiful designs can appeal to people’s natural attraction to art by paralleling humanity’s intrinsic affinity to the natural world, as described by E. O. Wilson’s concept of biophilia. As empathy is also an essential trait for stories to captivate audiences, I looked at works of illustrators who portray stories of animals in a way that almost anthropomorphizes them to create a personal connection with the viewer. An obvious example of anthropomorphizing lions is the Disney animated film Lion King, which I rewatched for general inspiration of telling a captivating and emotional story about lions, in addition


figure 38

figure 42a: personal sketches and studies of lions

to looking at the animator’s rough studies of their anatomy and poses (fig. 39). For being able to illustrate these animals in a convincing way, I studied their anatomy and behaviors through watching videos of wild lions and seeing them in zoos, in addition to finding anatomical references. I knew the work of one figure 40 (How to)

of the animators who worked on Lion King, Aaron Blaise, because of his well-known artistic style and depictions of animals (fig. 40). I watched his video tutorials on lion anatomy to familiarize myself with their defining features in order to be better able to capture their form when drawing and understand how to draw them three dimensionally in motion (fig. 42). I also had reference and experience in illustrating lion anatomy from school, as I had illustrated the MSI studio’s plaster cast of a lion’s musculoskeletal system the year prior for an assignment (fig. 37), for which I had studied many anatomy books such as the work of Goffried Bammes in Grosse Tieranatomie.

story and connect with the reader. This style greatly inspired how I wanted to tell the story of snaring, as this tactic paralleled my need of making this story accessible to people from anywhere. I wanted to mimic this storyboard or comic style of illustrating to tell the individual pride members’ stories, and the real dangers they face from snares in an emotionally engaging way.

For specific inspiration as to how I would tell this story through visuals, I used the second book in my collection as a source of inspiration: Love: The Lion by Frédéric Brrémaud and Illustrated by Federico Bertolucci (fig. 41). Bertolucci depicts the life of a lion through only images in this graphic novel, removing language as a potential barrier and making the story accessible and understandable to all. The comic-style illustrations take the reader through the many hardships and beauties of a lion’s life, with the characters illustrated in a personalized light to add feeling and emotion to their figure 41 figure 42b: personal sketches and studies of lions


EXECUTION entire pride resting in its branches. The continuation of the infographic works the same way, so that when moving further down, the elements of a female and male lion as well as an icon of their prey can all be clicked on to display their individual story (fig. 50).

figure 43

The infographic itself was originally designed to be in a standard page dimension format in a landscape orientation, dynamically showing the sequence of events from snares being set to how they affect lions in different ways and what the repercussions are (fig. 43). As the elaboration progressed, the layout evolved into a long page which the viewer can scroll through and interact with, telling the story in segments rather than as one big piece (fig. 44). This format seemed to work more dynamically, as the viewer could scroll through the story themself, and aspects of the image could change and be interacted with piece by piece rather than being one page of too much information that stays still. The infographic introduces the topic with the title and a graphically designed figure 44 lion that works to set the scene, followed by a brief written introduction to the issue of snaring and why it is the biggest threat facing wild African lions (fig. 47). Scrolling down, the viewer will find information about prides of lions represented with a tree icon with a lion perched in a branch. A note tells the viewer to click on the lions in order to see their stories, and so when this lion icon is clicked, the illustrated comic-style story of a healthy pride of lions is launched, showing the same shape of the graphic tree comic to life in an illustration with an

While in each storyline, the viewer can still click on each lion in the compositions to display the corresponding text of information (fig. 51). This allows people to either simply look at the illustrated pictures, or get further information if wanted. Each part of the stories are their own image, and so for purposes of social media posts or presentations, individual parts can be isolated and used for specific intentions.

figure 45

figure 46

The storyline of the female lion being snared was illustrated first, which set the style and process for making the rest of the storylines. I worked hard to define a clear process of creating each composition


figure 48

within the story, beginning with writing down the realities of what happens when a female lion is snared and then distilling this into sequential moments that I storyboarded with rough sketches (fig. 48). For some of the images I started with a pencil sketch to be imported and completed in photoshop, while others were entirely done in photoshop. I made a clear process of creating the images to be consistent and streamlined, by first starting with the general line sketch on top of the storyboard, and then using a color palette that I made for keeping the colors of the entire story unified to paint the tones of the lions and environment on separate layers, and then adding accent details with line on top (fig. 45, 46). While making this process efficient was challenging at first, the real struggle was the emotional impact of drawing this story. While drawing these lions fulfilled my artistic passions, the reality was that I was drawing these personalized and emotional characters only to have them be killed to illustrate the realities of snaring. This wasn’t a story I was inventing, but rather a harsh reality that I was retelling, and finding a way to show these hardships in a way that enlightens the reader without being too gruesome or too downplayed was difficult. While this may sound like a cliche, I took inspiration from the infamous scene from Lion King in which Mufasa is killed, in that the story itself is powerful enough to create great emotion from this moment, while not actually showing the horrific instance of Mufasa hitting the ground and dying. Instead this moment is framed, beginning with the sequence of him falling,

figure 47


figure 49

figure 51

and then cutting to his son Simba’s reaction at the moment of his death, and ending with the aftermath of Simba approaching his body. I attempted to emulate a similar effect though not as dramatized by showing the moments leading up to a lion being snared followed by shots of the snaring mechanism and how it entraps an animal and then, rather than drawing the moment of their death, showing the aftermath of the snaring incident. Looking at photographs of lions in snares, maimed lions, and poached lions for reference of illustrating this story was an awful exposure to the brutal realities of humanity’s effects on lions. I wanted to convey the same emotional connection I felt from learning about these realities by making illustrations that inspired empathy without using graphic images to shock or discourage. This is also why at the end of the infographic, the essential section of solutions is included, where multiple possibilities are explained in detail to provide tangible hope rather than doom and gloom. The different solutions being implemented in Africa are explained here, and when the bottommost icon of the lion is clicked, the reader is brought into the story by learning what they can do and viewing an uplifting ending that illustrates a pride of lions starting anew to represent the potential of lion populations recovering (fig. 52, see inside of back cover).

figure 52 figure 50









IMPACT RELEVANCE OF ILLUSTRATION TO CONSERVATON The impact that illustrations or visuals have on a conservation cause is crucial for evaluating whether the real-world application aligns with the desired outcome. While everyone wants to change the world, being realistic with a focused project and specific target audience is much more attainable for creating community-based change. Every cause within conservation has unique and individual needs; some cases may not require illustrations, or might benefit from a different form of visuals like documentaries or photographs. It is important to identify how the use of design and illustration can specifically benefit the work of researchers and environmentalists most effectively.

USE OF DESIGN & MARKETING FOR CREATING AN AGENDA Illustrations are not the only form of visuals that can benefit conservation. Utilizing design tactics in captivating images or tools of marketing for calling attention to a cause can also bring needed awareness to species in need of protection (Smith). In using posters to serve as a point of information at the site of a whale stranding, this device also functions as an advertisement for Naturalis by showcasing the importance of their team of researchers and inspiring beachgoers to patronise this museum in support of their work. The lion infographic by itself works to call attention to this cause and inspire support for researchers like Alex. Beyond this, its applications can be far reaching, with potentials of printing the storylines as comics, making the infographic into a poster, or using the graphic icons of the lions as subjects for a marketing campaign with stickers or other merchandise of which proceeds would go to preventing snaring. While long term effects of how marketing devices can gain support for conservation causes was not evaluated during the course of this thesis due to prioritization of creating the visuals, the ideals of conservation marketing were acknowledged when exploring illustration options, making them


flexible enough to have diverse uses and effects in the future. The tactics of conservation marketing are explained thoroughly in a paper entitled “Marketing and Conservation: How to Lose Friends and Influence People,” which helped me to understand the benefits and dilemmas that accompany this toolset. Marketing from a social standpoint to influence people’s behavior as opposed to commercial marketing works to achieve goals for a communal good. In reality, this has little effect on influencing an individual’s behavior when it comes to conservation campaigns and is instead better at generating funds and helping scientists gain enough support to make an agenda for their conservation efforts. Scientists and conservationists can often be reluctant towards using these tactics due to feeling ethically opposed to using advertising to generate support for the planet when scientific realites alone should be enough. The severity of the extinction crisis says otherwise, as calls to action have to provide incentive for people to care about the planet through their actions. The benefits offered in conservation campaigns are less tangible than commercial advertising as the satisfaction comes from a moral sense of making a difference (Smith). The role of empathy thus becomes an essential component, though it is important to note that using emotional tactics in local ads may come across differently from how they are received by global audiences. It is important to understand local cultural values where the conservation issue is in combination with deciding the desired target audience. With the Naturalis side of my project, creating posters to be displayed on Dutch beaches about Dutch institutions made this a clear example of informing local people. The audience of the snaring infographic is more complex, requiring both local and global attention. The villainization of people in cases of human-wildlife conflict can be an easy scapegoat in calls to action, but avoiding this is important to

not prevent conversations and conflict resolution. The ideologies and values of local people must be included to avoid simplifying a cause into a big picture view that insensitively portrays the countries and people actually affected. For this reason, I made an effort to not villainize the farmers in Africa who kill lions, but to instead highlight the complexities of people’s relationship with lions and the importance of protecting their livelihood. Spreading awareness of a cause must allow for different levels of a viewer’s knowledge on the subject, and can thus gain traction by targeting broad audiences with mass appeal (Smith). In the lion infographic, I included this ideology by encouraging the viewer to get as much or as little information from the visuals as they want. Creating an agenda for conservation efforts are essential for scientists working to make a difference. While marketing can have negative effects and face skepticism, it is important to acknowledge the potential dangers and work to incorporate culturally respectful approaches that bring needed rallying support for conservation. Understanding how marketing can be used to benefit conservation helped me to create the process I used to decide the illustration needs of a project.

DRAWING A COMPARISON Through streamlining the process of finding the illustration needs of a specific cause, finding creative solutions can be accomplished for any project through the defined steps of discerning the primary conservation issue, what is needed to improve the situation and who can make this happen, and how illustration can be used most effectively to contribute to this purpose. Though the topics within this thesis are incredibly different in subject matter, they both showcase the vast complexities that conservation issues or cases of human-wildlife conflict often have, and how using this process can apply big-picture thinking to specific problem-solving methods. With whales stranding on the Dutch coast, the reasons for these animals dying are full of uncertainties, while lions being snared in Africa has a clear specific cause but entails complex repercussions. Though these topics involved vastly different illustration

applications to reflect their unique needs, the method of discerning how to find these solutions involved the same process. While working on these projects, areas of concern arose around the realistic impact the illustrations would have in conservation efforts. In the whale stranding subject, the factor of human activities seemed to not play a central role in causing whales to strand (Ijsseldijk). However, every species has different circumstances leading to their strandings, and human activity is known to play a role in affecting these animals such as through naval sonar and plastic pollution. Many of these whales are also vulnerable due to historic hunting of them resulting in severe declines in their numbers, making it people’s responsibility to now work towards preserving them by learning everything possible about threats to their wellbeing. While the reasons leading to a whale’s death were uncertain, this subject had a very clear target audience with locally based implementations. The compared topic of snaring of lions had the reverse situation, with the cause of lion populations declining clearly defined as snaring, but with a broad and originally unspecific target audience. To narrow this goal, outreach was centered around public audiences with an affinity for conservation and big cats as well as stakeholders and organizations for Alex to collaborate with, while still being applicable to local African communities. Creating such a broad device could have pitfalls in balancing local and worldwide outreach, but the acknowledgement of this and incorporation of specific realities and dynamics help to respect cultural values and avoid exploitation (Smith). As I have no firsthand knowledge of the relationship between people and lions in Africa having never been there, I relied heavily on Alex’s expertise to inform my work through his personal experience researching this issue where it happens.


CONCLUSION Just as dynamics surrounding threatened species can be incredibly complex for each unique cause, finding solutions must reflect the multifaceted needs of protecting a species through creative problem solving. Causes within conservation can benefit greatly from multidisciplinary approaches, with illustrations and artistic mediums having endless potential to benefit research through scientific explanation, visual marketing, cultural inclusion, and more. Scientific communities may have grievances against using art to contribute to scientific causes, but the persistence of environmental issues calls for urgency in how we as humanity work together to combat them. Using tactics learned from marketing to bring attention to important causes can be extremely beneficial for researchers to create agendas for their conservation work. Art can involve communities and influence cultural attitudes towards animals while stimulating job opportunities, and scientific illustration can reach beyond its stereotypical applications to find unique ways of conveying scientific research. Creativity is invaluable to science and is applicable not only in finding ways to use illustrations but also for approaching solutions of preserving species. The collaboration of artists and scientists produces invaluable contributions to the field of conservation in finding diverse and creative solutions for protecting the world’s indispensable biodiversity.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my mentor Drs. Arno Lataster for his knowledge and guidance throughout the process of this thesis, as well as the MSI program director Rogier Trompert for his encouragement and sincere enthusiasm. I am grateful to all of my teachers: Jacques Spee, Ilse Wielage, Dirk Traufelder, and Greet Mommen for their knowledge and input that has greatly contributed to my growth and education. I am very thankful to have worked with Naturalis, specifically the scientists there who introduced the topic of whale strandings to me, Becky Desjardins and Pepijn Kamminga, as well as Guido Keijl for his input about this topic. I also want to thank EsmĂŠe Winkel for her direction and help in my communication with the Naturalis team. At Utrecht University, I want to thank Lonneke IJsseldijk for the knowledge she shared. I want to thank Alexander Braczkowski for the thorough information he shared with me about lions and his strong passion for conservation that inspired my work. His encouragement of creativity provided great motivation for me in this collaborative process. I am looking forward to seeing the results of these projects in the future, and I hope I can sufficiently contribute to the essential work of these scientists. I of course want to acknowledge the unwavering support from my family throughout my education and their encouragement for all my ambitions. I owe my artistic training to my teacher growing up, Sheldon Borenstein, who shaped my fundamental drawing skills that I still use today. This thesis was the largest project I have personally undertaken, and so for emotional support and her belief in me I want to thank my partner Malou Simons.


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Profile for A Rose Sauer

The Case for Creatives: Why Conservation Needs Artists by A. Rose Sauer  

Master's Thesis by A. Rose Sauer 2020. The Case for Creatives: Why Conservation Needs Artists A comparison of two topics within conservatio...

The Case for Creatives: Why Conservation Needs Artists by A. Rose Sauer  

Master's Thesis by A. Rose Sauer 2020. The Case for Creatives: Why Conservation Needs Artists A comparison of two topics within conservatio...


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