Anonim

Photographer Tim Flach has taken thousands of photographs in nature or under controlled conditions to portray endangered animal species. His project wants to understand what could be the loss for the entire planet if even one animal species is lost. In collaboration with the zoologist Jonathan Baillie, of the National Geographic Society, and the writer Sam Wells has produced a book of rare beauty to explain the wonders and fragility of a planet, represented by its most exciting species.
In the photo: fireflies in a Japanese forest. Fireflies are small beetles of the Lampyridae family, which emit cold light thanks to a biochemical process that takes place in the abdomen. Signals, whose frequency is different for each species, serve to attract members of the other sex for mating.

The arboreal pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) is a species belonging to the order of Folidoti, slow and peaceful species that feed on social insects such as ants or termites. The scales of the pangolin, which protect it from the enemies and bites of worker ants, are considered a remedy for many diseases based on traditional Chinese medicine, a set of superstitions that uses the most varied animal products and is leading to the extinction of many species . In recent years, numerous pangolin expeditions have been intercepted, caught by criminal organizations to feed the eastern market.

The Pteropods, also called sea butterflies, are pelagic molluscs, that is they live only on the high seas. They are very common, so much so as to be one of the favorite preys for many other species. The zoologist Gareth Lawson speaks for this of a sea butterfly effect: that is to say that the disappearance or decrease of these species would lead to chain consequences on the entire oceanic food web, and therefore also on fish and other marine products. The pteropods are threatened by the acidification of the oceans, one of the least known consequences of the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), although a leading figure in many documentaries on Africa, is not a widespread and common species. Its dependence on water and the need to feed on grass often brings it into conflict with the populations that live near rivers and lakes. If we add to this the hunting to which it is subjected for various reasons, for example its large ivory teeth, it explains why the species is in decline in a large part of the African continent.

Echinophylla aspera coral lives in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. Almost all species of these coelenterates builders of barriers are in danger due to the acidification of the oceans. Their skeleton consists essentially of calcium carbonate secreted by polyps, tiny animals similar to actinias: the decrease in pH of the waters of the seas (ie the shift towards acid values) slowly dissolves the skeleton and weakens the entire structure of the large coral reefs . This is combined with the warming of the entire planet, which pushes the corals to expel the algae that coexist within their body. The subsequent whitening slowly leads to the death of the coral.

The bald tamarin (Saguinus bicolor) is a South American monkey that inhabits the tropical forests around the Brazilian city of Manaus. The rapid expansion of the urban fabric is quickly destroying the expanse of trees, and the tamarin is rapidly becoming an endangered species. Some captive breeding projects and reintroduction in protected habitats are underway. However, the population of captured animals grows very slowly, because the animals are reluctant to reproduce in captivity.

The brown rhinopithecus (Rhinopithecus bieti) is a very peculiar looking monkey, which inhabits the forests of southern China. The deforestation and the hunting by the populations were condemning some populations of the species to the disappearance. The work of a Chinese documentary filmmaker, Xi Zhiniong, managed to stop the destruction of forests. But the slow advance of chainsaws leaves little room for this curious monkey.

The monkey eagle (Pithecophaga jefferi) is one of the largest and most powerful eagles on Earth. Evolving in an ecosystem with few predatory mammals, it has reached significant dimensions, with a wingspan of about 210 centimeters. Precisely these dimensions and dietary requirements are pushing the species to extinction, because forests in the Philippines are increasingly being reduced due to deforestation. A project of breeding in captivity and reintroduction is having some success, but new protected areas would also be needed in the archipelago to allow the reintroduction of this spectacular species.

The beautiful snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a highly specialized species that lives in the Himalayan mountains. It feeds on high altitude herbivores and has been persecuted for years due to the very soft fur, or killed by shepherds who retaliate for the loss of their flocks. After the alarm raised by environmental associations, various projects were born and NGOs that have the specific purpose of protecting an already very rare species. So next to fences and indemnities to the shepherds for their losses, some protected areas have been established with the aim of protecting the species.

The saiga (Saiga tatarica) is a curious antelope that lives in the cold plains of East Asia. His particular nose allows him to live in cold environments. A hunter's prey for centuries, it had been reduced to a thousand individuals at the beginning of the twentieth century. Protection and rapid reproduction allowed him to survive and return to reassuring numbers. Until 2015, when an outbreak of the Pasteurella multocida bacterium made a veritable massacre of the species. Although the situation seems to have stabilized, zoologists are always on the alert.

The northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is one of the two subspecies of the white rhino. It is extinct in nature and represented only by three animals living in South Africa protected by armed guards. As with all other rhino species, the danger comes from the superstitions of traditional Chinese medicine, which considers the horn (simply made of keratin, the material of which nails are made) as a panacea for all ills. The horn is sold at very high prices: for this reason organized crime pays local poachers to exterminate even the last representatives of this and other species of rhinos.

The Ladano or Beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) is a fish from the Caspian and Black Sea basins, which also lived in the Adriatic. It is a slow-growing and very long-lived species, but poaching for its precious sheep (caviar), dams on the rivers where it lives and pollution have greatly reduced its population, so much so that it is now considered endangered of extinction. Other sturgeon species, such as the cobice (Acipenser naccarii), which lives in the Po and other Italian rivers, are also threatened by pollution and poaching.

The gharial of the Ganges (Gavialis gangeticus) is a highly specialized crocodile that lived in some of the great rivers of India. Pollution, hunting for parts to sell for Chinese medical superstitions, along with the persecution of fishermen, have reduced the number from around 10, 000 to a few hundred.

The Animals to save project by Tim Flach is told in a large-format book, full of splendid photographs, published by Rizzoli, available online and in bookstores from 26 October 2017.

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In the photo: fireflies in a Japanese forest. Fireflies are small beetles of the Lampyridae family, which emit cold light thanks to a biochemical process that takes place in the abdomen. Signals, whose frequency is different for each species, serve to attract members of the other sex for mating.