Treehugger.com recently featured a small slideshow with pictures of just a handful of animals and insects photographed in a multi-year project by photographer Joel Sartore. A Nebraskan native, Sartore has shot for twenty years with National Geographic Magazine and authored books like Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky, Face to Face With Grizzlies, and his most recent (and perhaps his most moving) book, National Geographic Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species.
You can a view a video detailing the why and how for the ‘Rare’ series here, though ultimately it is certain that Sartore used his expertise to capture in image the disappearing presence of America’s great species, who have survived thousand’s of years of nature’s toughest, but have been otherwise unable to withstand nature’s most unforgiving force – civilization.
From endangered, nestling Least Tern Chicks, (“photographed near North Bend, Nebraska. (Interior population is listed as Endangered.) Found across the U.S., the least term is a victim of dams: Impoundments and new channels disrupt historic waterways, drowning the sandbars that terns use for nesting colonies.”) to the the American Burying Beetle (”at the St. Louis Zoo’s Monsanto Insectarium. [...] Their range is down from 35 states to 9.”), Sartore waited patiently to ‘shoot’ them all, and in limiting the range of his lens to the American borders he is making a statement to both American expansion and aspiring photojournalists, environmentalists, and eco-tourists.
Some of these insects and beasts still live in the wild, like the extremely rare Woodland Caribou, of whom there are ten in zoos and only forty in the U.S, or the Grey Wolf, which is endangered in most states.
As time progresses, some species regress, or disappear entirely, like the pygmy rabbit featured on this page, who died as the last rabbit of her species in 2008. While some of the creatures photographed by Sartore are safely working their way off the endangered animals list, respect and adoration in nature is still an important ethic to uphold on your next trip into the wilds of North America.