Countdown to oblivion
The annihilation of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way. Photographer Sean Gallagher has set up the Instagram feed Everyday Extinction, which features the work of scientists and photographers whose mission it is to highlight through their stories and powerful images the many ways our planet is being ravaged. The descriptions of the animals whose lot is pictured here are taken from Gallagher’s feed.
FEAST OR FLIGHT
A white stork waiting for food that will be arriving shortly after sunrise at this landfill in Portugal. White storks traditionally make an epic annual migration from Europe to West Africa, flying thousands of kilometres to find seasonal food. But the prospect of an easy meal much closer to home is starting to replace the long-distance pilgrimage. Vast landfills in southern Europe and North Africa are too tempting to pass up.
THE SADDEST LINK A large bull elephant sits with its legs chained in Chitwan National Park in Nepal. This 50-year-old was restrained because he had killed five mahouts during his lifetime.
He was tied from his waist to a house’s column with a very short rope, below. You just needed to see his eyes to understand the situation of this baby squirrel monkey. Even more when his owner used to come closer to feed him a piece of bread. The illegal pet trade is one of the most important problems in the conservation of wildlife. People love to have wild animals as pets, contributing to their being taken out of their habitats. The majority of these animals die mainly because of a lack of understanding in their handling and feeding.
CLOSE TO THE HEART At Senkwekwe, the world’s only mountain gorilla sanctuary, in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papa Andre Bauma cuddles 10-yearold Ndakasi. The gorilla was orphaned at two months old, when her mother was slaughtered, and she spent most of that traumatic night inside Bauma’s shirt, pressed against his chest. Their bond remains incredibly strong, and although Bauma is father — or rather mother — to the sanctuary’s other mountain gorillas too, his relationship with Ndakasi is unique.
DESTROYED, SHELVED Tiger, leopard and other big cat trophies in the National Wildlife Property Repository, a warehouse on the outskirts of Denver, packed with illegal animal parts and products. Many are from threatened or endangered species. Most are contraband, seized at major ports of entry around the US. Collectively, the facility and the 1.3 million items within its walls represent an evidence vault. One that testifies to an economy serving the human appetite for other species.