There are now more than 40,000 animal species on the ‘red list’. Over 26,500 of them are already endangered and threatened with extinction. Some of them are shocking, like the cheetah and the just recently added giraffe.
Photographer Tim Flach was on a mission to capture as many photographs of these endangered species as possible. His aim is to present the heartbreaking reality that these lovely creatures may soon be gone forever, completely erased from existence. It’s tragic to imagine that any one of them would ever be considered less worthy of life than one of us.
Over a span of two years, Flach documented as many endangered species in their environment as possible. Then he compiled the most touching pictures into a book he titled Endangered. Flash did all this with hopes that it will encourage us to take action to help ensure that these species thrive.
Many of his photographs are up close, strikingly personal self-portraits. He deliberately visually removes some of the endangered creatures from their environment. Flach told NPR:
“The romanticizing, free, wild images [of animals] weren’t necessarily getting people to take action. I wanted to think about what kind of images people engage in and how you tell a story to get people to connect to [the animal].”
However, not all his photos are. Some of his images do pull away from the subject and examine the creatures within their environments. He explains:
“It’s important for a book that has a lot of portraits to also [have] a sense of the habitat. The species depend on us to help keep their homes safe; it’s not just for their well-being, but for ours, too. We’ve got certain animals that turn the soil or forests that make fresh water. Our future depends on them. It’s pretty basic really.”
It is easy to forget about the fate of these animals since they are not in our face as part of our day-to-day life. They are like a far-away mystery. So these photographs are a reminder to everyone of everything we should be afraid to lose.
There are all sorts of reasons these animals are dying. But all of the reasons point back to one thing – human activity. Whether it be habitat destruction, or more gruesome ordeals, such as hunting, poaching, and being sold into the black market, if it wasn’t for people’s interference, these species would be striving. Things have to change in our world because for something like this to be happening, it is just awfully wrong.
“The most important message is that it’s not simply images of animals but that every aspect of our being is influenced by the natural world around us. With over seven hours a day that we spend on the internet, it becomes clear that we don’t have the same sensibilities that our predecessors had to their environment. I want to point to the ecological drivers of humanity through portrayals of animals and I chose some candidates to demonstrate that. Insects might not interest everyone but they are essential for sustaining life. As soon as their numbers are diminishing, many things are not controlled anymore. As we don’t know when the tipping points of a system could occur, we need to appreciate things before they are gone. For our own wellbeing we have to reconnect with the wild.” – Flach
See what you can do to help on the The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species website. Here are a few more photos to inspire you: