Data science has come to inform much of what makes the modern world tick. Through it, we are able to map interest peaks, attitude shifts, voting and purchasing trends, and much much more. Many of us, in our working days, have been forced, one way or another, into the realisation that not using data to inform our decisions would be a serious oversight
The Tsavo Trust’s operational capability is, obviously, driven by the goodwill and charitable donations of our donors. Many of these donors are internationally-based. The often jaw-dropping generosity of these incredible individuals and organisations keeps us in the business of protecting Kenya’s African savannah elephant.
We are fortunate in the consistent backing we receive. However, that does not mean we are able to rest on our laurels. The challenges facing the conservation of African elephant are always changing and in need of novel approaches.
We, as a result, must remain vigilant of the globe’s attitude shifts. By monitoring what the world is interested in, we can ensure our mission capitalises on its relevance and boosts education on its importance when the plight of Africa’s elephant is forgotten.
With this week’s article, we thought we would share with you some of the insights we’ve made on global interest trends over the years. We will look to answer some of your questions regarding general trends in conservation.
How has interest in ‘conservation’ changed over the last five years?
If order to analyse the interest the globe has had in conservation, we’ve compared three search terms that generally relate to our work here in Tsavo. We have looked at ‘Wildlife conservation’, ‘Africa conservation’ and ‘Elephant conservation’. We have tried to use these terms to get a measure of how much interest in these subjects has changed over the years.
What this metric measures is the search term’s popularity over five years as compared with the instance of one of the three terms greatest interest. As is evident, the search term that saw the greatest interest measured is ‘Wildlife conservation’ and that was at the end of September 2019. This term, during this period of measurement, is then considered the benchmark for measurement of all other search terms and is given a score of 100 to represent that.
As can be seen, ‘Africa conservation’ received a score of 4 and ‘Elephant conservation’ received a 7. This means that those terms where witnessing 4% and 7% of ‘Wildlife conservation’s popularity at the time. This metric gives us an understanding of how the interest in conservation has wavered over time.
What we can immediately see is that ‘Wildlife conservation’ is by far the more searched term of the three. What we can also see, as evident in the amount of red-coloured peaks rising about the 75% mark before the all-time high and the amount of troughs descending below the 50% afterward, is that globally, the interest in ‘Wildlife conservation’ is dropping.
In the above graphic, one can see two data marks indicating the lowest point of interest in the ‘Wildlife conservation’ term. That data point coincides with the end of March 2020. This, of course, was when the Coronavirus pandemic began to really flex it’s influence over global politics and the search term’s relative unpopularity is perhaps reflective of this.
In this graphic, comparing ‘Africa conservation’ and ‘Elephant conservation’ you can see the downward trend in search interest more clearly. Indicated on the graph is the period from the end of September that witnessed ‘Wildlife conservation’s greatest popularity. As is obvious, this was not the period of greatest interest for the two terms analysed in this metric. Here we can see that of these two terms, ‘Elephant conservation’ was the more popular and that was way back in mid-November 2017.
Since 2017, it is obvious that interest in ‘Elephant conservation’ has trended downward quite worryingly.
Which countries care the most about conservation?
This next metric applies the search terms we’ve been using as a contribution of total search terms in a country. Therefore, when a country is indicated as being the first in a certain category it is the country in which that search term has the greatest share of total searches in the country.
As shown by the ranking system on the right of this graphic, African countries show the greatest interest in ‘Wildlife conservation’.
In the graphic above, it can be seen that South Africa searched the term ‘Africa conservation’ more frequently, as measured against total searches, than any other country in the world. The South African metric also gives a clear indication of the priority in that country when it comes to all three of our search terms compared.
South Africans searched for the term ‘Africa conservation’ more often than they did the term ‘Wildlife conservation’. This is especially interesting a development when one considers the fact that those who searched for the term ‘Wildlife conservation’ most frequently were other African countries.
As can be seen above, the countries that search for the term ‘Elephant conservation’ most frequently are Asian countries. This may be indicative of many factors.
A note on the study of statistical trends
This article has been an exercise in exploring how stats can be used. They are a very useful measure of broad trends and can be incredibly useful in mapping general shifts to those trends. However, statistics are very easily manipulated and can be easily misconstrued, intentionally or otherwise.
Google trends is free to use. If you want to explore some of what we’ve touched upon here, we recommend giving it a go.