"You Won't Save What You Don't Love": Conservation Efforts That Make You Care

Photo by Grahm S. Jones                                                                                                                                        natgeophotoark.org    Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio. After a photo shoot at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, a clouded leopard cub climbs on Sartore's head.                       

Photo by Grahm S. Jones                                                                                                                                      natgeophotoark.org

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio. After a photo shoot at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, a clouded leopard cub climbs on Sartore's head.                    

 

Joel Sartore is a National Geographic wildlife photographer who with his Photo Ark project has been on a mission to record the 12,000 captive species around the world—this includes many species that are endangered or threatened. He is an inspiration for us here at WRSPA, so we'd like to take a moment to highlight his work.

The photographs in the Photo Ark are breathtakingly beautiful and they seem to capture what's unique about each animal. There’s something about these images, all of which appear against a stark black or white background, that makes you stop for a moment and consider the truly amazing biodiversity on our planet. As with all of Mr. Sartore's work, each animal no matter how large or small, how popular or how unknown, is treated with the same respect and reverence. 

A Fiji Island banded iguana, Brachylophus fasciatus, at the Los Angeles Zoo                                                            natgeophotoark.org

A Fiji Island banded iguana, Brachylophus fasciatus, at the Los Angeles Zoo                                                          natgeophotoark.org

Joel often states that, “you won’t save what you don’t love”, and many of his photographs have inspired local governments and institutions around the globe to stop and reevaluate how to protect and help these species. PBS stations are airing a three-part documentary RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark that gives an intimate behind-the-scenes look into Joel’s work, and some of the rare and wonderful creatures he’s captured on film.

This quote really hit home for me, because it’s true–with so many different things competing for our attention and resources, we won’t go the extra mile to help something or someone unless we have a more concrete experience to draw upon. Mr. Sartore is using his artful photographic skills to get people to stop and think.

We humans need to care because the interconnectedness of the natural world means that habitat destruction and the disappearance of species can have an effect on our lives. It’s important to care about the northern white rhino, the majestic Spanish imperial eagle, or the aldabra giant tortoise.

I also feel passionate that the time to care about any species is NOW. My heart breaks at the thought that there are three northern white rhinos left on the planet. Conservationists work to captive breed species and restore habitat in order to curb the disappearance of these endangered species.

“Fifty percent of all animals are threatened with extinction, and it’s folly to think we can drive half of everything else to extinction but that people will be just fine,”
— Joel Sartore

One of our goals at WRSPA is to connect people to their wild co-habitants of this earth. We want people to consider common species—the red tailed hawks, robins, geese, skunks, opossums, squirrels, salamanders, snakes, moths, bats, and the turtles. The time to care about these creatures is BEFORE they are compromised, while they are still robust and with us. Just as with our bodies, it’s much easier to work to prevent the break or the illness than it is to heal it.

A pygmy slow loris, Nycticebus pygmaeus, at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium                                 natgeophotoark.org

A pygmy slow loris, Nycticebus pygmaeus, at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium                               natgeophotoark.org

At WRSPA we want to help the public get to know (and get to love!), the species that we interact with every day. They all matter. Personally, the more I learn about an animal, the more I interact with it, and the more I discover— the more I love and want to work to protect it. This is why we are launching our Species Spotlight series, where, with any luck, in the coming weeks and months we’ll get you to love each and every creature we highlight as much as we do!

You don’t have to visit a zoo or a nature preserve in order to see something wonderful. Sometimes, all you have to do is go outside and look around. This requires no money and little effort. You’ll see the songbirds flying around, the vulture soaring overhead, the colony of ants weaving in and out of the sidewalk cracks. Even though we might fail to recognize how wonderful these things are amidst our busy lives, it’s important to take a moment to appreciate the interconnectedness of it all.

All photographs shown here are used with permission from the National Geographic Photo Ark. Love what you see? Please take the time to check out Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark project and take a look at the excellent tips for how YOU can help be part of the conservation solution!