Rare: Portraits of America's Endangered Species - monday 2010-06-07 1855 last modified 2010-06-08 0213
Categories: Daily Grind, Photography
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Thanks to author Joel Sartore, National Geographic, and Neatorama, none of whom I have any relationship to, I received a free copy of Sartore's latest photography production, a book of high quality photos from his visits to various zoos and habitats around the country, capturing moments with members of species that perch precariously on the razor's edge. They'll either prove to be heartwarming photos as the genetic line pulls back from extinction or heartbreaking, as in the case of the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit, of which the second to last one is photographed for the book and introduces readers to the book's concept by way of the cautionary tale of what happens when we're too late to undo our damage. Both of those captive rabbits, females with no hope to reproduce, have since died.

The animals, from the enormous polar bear to the tiny Dehli Sands Flower-Loving Fly, are set against a monochrome backdrop, further highlighting them from an aesthetic sense but also separating them from their environments, which is often what we've done in upsetting the sometimes hidden, delicate balance of their respective ecosystems. Some of these species are not at a particular worldwide risk, but the fact that their stateside populations dwindle increases the peril of their global populations. And if we did it here, others will probably do it elsewhere.

As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words. Most of the species are presented with minimal commentary, some with amusing anecdotes on the ease or difficulty of shooting the animal in question, allowing Sartore's work to stand on its own. Unpublished photos are made available to the assisting zoo, and proceeds from the book to Sartore to continue his projects and to National Geographic to continue theirs.

It would be nice to see some of the photos licensed under Creative Commons and a concrete sense of what more the reader can do to participate in assisting habitat and species recovery, but that would all be well beyond what service Sartore is generously and skillfully rendering to us.

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