A new way to look at global croc attacks


Dr Adam Britton said the aim of the graphics was to better understand why people were attacked by crocodiles

The first glimpse of an interactive tool that could potentially pinpoint crocodile attack hotspots and assist researchers to better understand the reasons behind attacks has been launched as part of CrocBITE at Charles Darwin University.

CrocBITE is a database detailing the hundreds of recorded attacks on humans by crocodilians worldwide each year. It is hoped the new visual feature will enable users to create interactive graphics to view crocodile attack data as images that can reveal information about crocodile behaviour and risk of attacks.

The graphics are the result of a collaboration between Dr Simon Pooley based at Imperial College London, Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods Research Fellow Dr Adam Britton and University of California student Brandon Sideleau.

“The aim of these graphics is to better understand why people are attacked by crocodiles, what the greatest risks are, and how to reduce those risks to save lives,” Dr Britton said.

“The images reveal the most likely places where attacks take place, how attacks are linked with climate and season, risk profiles of victims including age and gender groups, and also statistics about the crocodiles involved.”

Dr Britton said that he and Mr Sideleau joined forces with Dr Pooley at the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group Working Meeting in Louisiana, USA, in May 2014.

“Dr Pooley travelled to the Northern Territory to visit our wild crocodiles and discuss with us how to best summarise attack data using graphics,” Dr Britton said.

“We experimented with visual concepts using data from the two high incident areas of Swaziland and South Africa,” he said.

“The resulting models were shown to school children, local conservation managers and researchers in Swaziland and South Africa in January 2015, and feedback was incorporated into the final designs to improve their clarity.”

Dr Britton said the tool was still at a proof-of-concept stage, but showed what was possible.

“We hope to encourage further funding of the project to improve these graphics, and allow us to roll them out to the entire database,” he said.

“These beta stage graphics are for Dr Pooley's study areas in Swaziland and South Africa only.

“Eventually visitors will be able to search for statistics and graphics specific to their area of interest.”

To view the interactive infographics visit W: crocodile-attack.info/data-viz. 

CrocBITE is funded by the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University, and the visualisations by an Economic and Social Research Council / Imperial College London Impact Acceleration Award.

For further information contact Dr Adam Britton at abritton@crocodilian.com or 0407 185182 or visit http://riel.cdu.edu.au


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