O'Reilly animals in trouble? Conservation status of book covers

What can a kaka, a kakapo, an European rabbit and a grey heron have in common? Well, they might co-habit in the bookshelf of an R user, since they’re all animals on the covers of popular R books: “R Packages”, “R for Data Science”, “Text mining with R” and “Efficient R programming”, respectively. Their publisher, O’Reilly, has now based its brand on covers featuring beautiful gravures of animals.

Recently, while wondering what the name of R for Data Science bird was again (I thought it was a kea!), I was thrilled to find the whole O’Reilly menagerie, i.e. a list of books and corresponding animals! The website also features a link to “A short history of the O’Reilly animals” that was an amazing read. In it was noted that “The animals are in trouble.”, with a few examples of endangered species. It inspired me to actually try and assess the conservation status of O’Reilly animals using responsible webscraping, taxonomic name resolving and IUCN Redlist API querying…