Photography News 100 - Web

Book review

Extinction by Marc Schlossman is available now. The full-colour hardback has 224 pages and costs £30. To hear the author talk about the book and his project, Buy the book

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“A whole 14 years ago, my nine- year-old twin sons – Ben and Theo – and I were given a tour of the zoological collections at the Field Museum in Chicago by Dr John Bates, associate curator of the bird collection at that time,” says Schlossman. “At one point, he opened a drawer containing an astonishing set of bird specimens, some of which were extinct. We held them and read the handwritten labels. It was a rare chance to see animals like an ivory-billed woodpecker or passenger pigeon up close, without a glass case between. My overpowering thought was that they are gone. Forever. The last opportunity to see them is here, right now, in our hands.” Schlossman was given access to the collection by Bates. Over the next ten years, he photographed 82 endangered and extinct species whose stories collectively illustrate these driving factors: climate change, disease, habitat loss, invasive species, overexploitation, pollution and the wildlife trade. He included many uncharismatic species that need greater public attention, increased funding and more research, compared to those with donor appeal. “Extinction is happening right now, minute to minute, day by day,” says Schlossman. “However, today’s extinction rate is between 1000 and 10,000 times the background rate (ie the number of species we expect to become extinct when referring to the history in the fossil record). “A 2011 study states 1.2 million species have been discovered and catalogued, estimating that 86% of all on Earth have not yet been found. Human-related activities are almost certainly contributing to the extinction of species that we do not even know exist.” We have selected a few images from Extinction , together with edited captions. Please see the panel above for details on buying a copy.

KAKAPO Kakapo inhabited the whole of New Zealand before people. Numbers dwindled with the arrival of the Maori, who hunted birds and introduced land mammals. Thanks to relocation supported by the state, the population was evacuated in 1987. While still critically endangered, ongoing efforts are cause for optimism.

CHINESE PANGOLIN This species has suffered more than any other due to location. Its meat and blood are prized as a delicacy and scales used in traditional medicine. A live pangolin can be sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars. Estimates suggest one million have been trafficked in the past decade – and nearly 200,000 in 2019 for scales alone. It is critically endangered.

RUSTY PATCHED BUMBLE BEE Once endemic to Midwestern US and southern Canada. It experienced the most serious decline of any bee species in North America, disappearing from 87% of its historic range and suffering 95% decline in the last few decades.

ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA Human demand, especially in Japan, has made this particularly susceptible to overfishing. Efficiency of commercial fishing has put numbers under huge pressure worldwide. The Atlantic bluefin tuna is endangered.

28 Photography News | Issue 100

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