Photographer Uses Images To Try And Save The World's Endangered Species

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 

Joel Sartore photographed more than 6,000 species

A photographer from Nebraska has traveled all over the world snapping photos of more than 6,000 species before they disappear. Joel Sartore’s pictures of endangered creatures will be on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum in an effort to inspire people to care about these animals before they’re gone forever.

“I want people to care, to fall in love, and to take action,” explained the photographer and conservationist. He’s partnered with National Geographic for the special collection called Photo Ark. How could you not fall in love with this endangered brow-antlered deer named Blitzen? Sartore met him at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.

The animal lover has spent 25 years traveling the world in his quest to make humans care about the world’s most endangered species. He photographed these two red-shanked douc langurs at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.

“No matter its size, each animal is treated with the same amount of affection and respect,” the Photo Ark website reads. “The results are portraits that are not just stunningly beautiful, but also intimate and moving.” This one is of the endangered Coquerel’s Sifaka.

There are three classifications of endangered species: critically, endangered, and vulnerable, but make no mistake – all three groups represent species facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Many people don’t realize the giraffe is facing extinction after their population shrunk 40 percent in just 30 years. The tallest land animal is currently listed as vulnerable.

Sartore’s hoping is work will motivate people to care and donate their time and money to protect these species for future generations. Here are Suci and her mom, Emi. These Sumatran rhinos were photographed by Sartore a few years ago at the Cincinnati Zoo, which launched the captive breeding of critically endangered Sumatran rhinos. They’re “poached so quickly that biologists fear they could go extinct in the wild within the next twenty years,” Sartore wrote.

His images already have a large following online. Sartore has more than 700,000 followers on Instagram. “It’s the eye contact that moves people,” the artist said of the animals’ expressions. “It engages … feelings of compassion and a desire to help.” These are two critically endangered Sumatran tiger cubs, who live at Zoo Atlanta.

Sartore started the Photo Ark in Lincoln, Nebraska – his hometown. But he’s traveled to 40 countries documenting global biodiversity. “It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity,” he explained. “When we save species, we’re actually saving ourselves.” Here he is with Kambo, a red-crested turaco. “After the shoot, Kambo sat on my shoulder and looked at his picture on my laptop,” the photographer shared. “I think he wanted to help edit!”

The money raised from the Photo Ark will go to on-the-ground conservation projects for animals in critical danger of extinction, like Malie, a 12-year-old Australian sea lion. She lives at the Taronga Zoo and faces extinction.

You can donate to the Photo Ark directly or buy a print from Sartore with all funds going to the program.

This article was originally published on