The readers’ wildlife tank is emptying (send in your good photos, please), so today I’ll repost some of the superb work of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore (yes, the magazine’s content is going downhill, but the photos are and have always been the best part). Sartore took a year off to help his wife during a bout of breast cancer, and, as the BBC reports, he decided to call attention to the plight of the world’s endangered species:
“I thought maybe if we do eye-contact, if we photograph animals where there are no distractions, all equal in size on black and white backgrounds, where a mouse is every bit as big and amazing as an elephant, then maybe we could get the public hooked into the plight of endangered species and extinction,” he says.
Traveling the world for Nat. Geo., he got photos like this (captions from the BBC site, whose words are indented; and I’ve added my own link and words (flush left):
The Florida panther is an endangered species of cougar. Once down to only 20 individuals, there seem to be about 160 now:
As the project grew, it caught the attention of editors at National Geographic, who commissioned Sartore to produce a few series of photographs, on amphibians for example, and America’s endangered species.
The photographer began travelling the world armed with different-sized tents in which to photograph smaller animals like birds and lizards. For the larger ones, he remained reliant on the safer environment of zoos.
This species is a frugivorous denizen of the Amazon basin, and is not considered endangered:
Sartore has also photographed one of the last surviving northern white rhinos in a zoo in the Czech Republic.
“We got to her just in time,” he says of the animal, who was called Nabire.
“We got a very nice portrait of her and she laid down and went to sleep at the end of the shoot because she slept a lot at the end of her life.”
With her death, and the death of another northern white rhino in San Diego not long afterwards, there are only three of the species left, all living under armed-guard in Kenya. They are too old to breed, though a conservation project is attempting to create an embryo through IVF which would be implanted in the womb of a similar rhino species.
“It’s not just the little things we’re allowing to slip into extinction,” says Sartore.
“It’s the big stuff too, unfortunately.”
This species occurs in Indonesia and New Guinea, and was described only in 1990. It’s known for the “smiley face” it often seems to have:
Like its cousin the naked mole rat, the Damaraland mole rat, from southern Africa, is eusocial (one breeding female and worker castes)—they’re the only two mammals known to be eusocial.
The fennec, from the Sahara desert, is the world’s smallest canid, weighing about half as much as a house cat. It’s not endangered. Notice the large ears to facilitate heat loss.
I’m not sure what species this quilled fellow belongs to; perhaps readers can help.
Like all lemurs, this sifaka is found in Madagascar. Living in only two small protected areas, it’s considered endangered.
From equatorial Africa, this pangolin is considered threatened:
h/t: Michael F.