Portraits of America’s Endangered Species

Joel Sartore’s haunting photographs in “Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species” are a roll call of North America’s most endangered wildlife, and they present an urgent call to action in the fight to save plants and animals from extinction.

Rare Joel Sartore

“Rare” features studio portraits of 69 endangered species in North America, from polar bears to whooping cranes.


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These photographs and the following text are an excerpt from Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species by Joel Sartore (National Geographic Focal Point, available March 16, 2010). Sartore has been a wildlife photojournalist at National Geographic for more than two decades. Rare is Sartore’s four-year investigation into the Endangered Species Act and the creatures it exists to protect. Listen to Joel discuss the book on MOTHER EARTH NEWS Radio . 

They say the true measure of a person, or of society, is how we treat the least among us.

Do we choose to save things that may contribute nothing to our bottom line?

If money is all that matters, then we’re headed for a very poor world indeed. Can you imagine a planet without wolves? Without frogs? Without pollinating insects?

Of course, the elephant in the room is human overpopulation. We’re nearing 7 billion people now, and the population continues to expand exponentially. As human culture overtakes the planet, other living things have less room and are pushed to extinction. It’s as simple as that.

So wouldn’t it be great to begin a national dialogue now about the importance of saving the wild places that remain and the species that live there?

To do this, nature must become more than just a faint notion to the masses, something that we like in the abstract but consider irrelevant to our daily lives.

We must realize that there’s more to life than the price at the pump and what’s on TV.

Indeed, there’s nothing more important than what’s going on with the rest of creation. Healthy forests, marshes and prairies keep our air and water clean. So when we save biodiversity, we’re actually saving ourselves.

Reprinted with permission from Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species by Joel Sartore, published by National Geographic Focal Point, 2010. Listen to Joel discuss the book on MOTHER EARTH NEWS Radio.
3/29/2010 8:54:45 PM

Thank you Wayne. These creatures are wonderful to observe, but you have the perspective is right on target.

3/29/2010 12:10:14 PM

The gray wolf was once found in yellowstone Park up until they illegaly introduced timberwolves from Canada which promptly made them extinct. The wolverine is quite common throuhout most of Canada and Alaska and never was that common here in the lower 48 states but is still here and more and more sighting's every year. You will not see these animals very often as they are very recluse and will never be as common as deer or elk which in many areas are very seldom seen as the wolves have decimated them. And the polar bear numbers are way up compared to the 70's. The only thing I have to say is if you ask enough animal right's activist about animals that are not in their back yard they will tell you that all animals are endangered because of humans. So what do you propose, genocide of the human race to save them? yes we need to help preserve our wildlife and wildlands but at what cost? And people that say certain animal's are endangered when they are not should be removed from the expert file and not supported with payment or promotion of their product. All of your pictures came from a zoo not from the wild what a way to make an easy dollar and then tote how rare these animals are when you do not go to the areas they come from and research how rare they may or may not be.

wilma howe-bennett_6
1/22/2010 3:19:09 PM

Beautiful photo spread - and I hope that we WILL be able to save these species from extinction.