A photographer captures the poignant similarities between wild animals and the humans who threaten their existence.
TIM FLACH’S new anthology poignantly captures the similarities between wild animals and the human beings who threaten their existence
In august 2016, tim flach sat for hours in a pit in a remote part of southeast Russia. His goal: to snap a photo of the critically endangered saiga antelope. The heat was intense, and the few images he got were blurred and unusable. By the time he returned some six months later, it was winter and well below freezing, but he got the shot he needed.
It took Flach, an award-winning photographer, about two years to put together his new anthology, Endangered, and along the way he had many such adventures. He trekked through Gabon in search of gorillas, photographed polar bears on Arctic ice flow and, in Kenya, looked the last male northern white rhino right in the eye. Earlier this year, that rhino died, leaving yet another species close to extinction.
It’s hard to quantify exactly how many species are going extinct; scientists are constantly discovering new ones. But the World Wildlife Foundation estimates that it is at least 10,000 every year. And the causes mostly involve humans: hunting, pollution, urbanization and overfishing.
In his 2012 book, More Than Human, Flach’s striking portraits of animals—a pensive-looking panda, a chicken frolicking across the frame—sought to highlight the similarities between humans and the natural world. In Endangered, he uses the same method to draw attention to our effects on it.
Many of the animals in Endangered are familiar. Others, such as the Lord Howe Island stick insect or the white bellied–pangolin, are more obscure. And while it is relatively easy to get readers interested in cuddly pandas, it is more challenging to get them to care about the Partula snail.
Sometimes, Flach looked outside the real world for the comparison. His pied tamarin, a primate from the Brazilian Amazon, is hunched over, its wrinkly face framed by a fuzzy white mane. He looks, Flach says, like Yoda, the Jedi master from Star Wars. “When people look at that image, it makes an impression,” he tells Newsweek. “It is so important for people to understand the changes that are unfolding.”
MASKING A PROBLEM Thanks to help from the Chinese government, the giant panda population has grown in recent years. But it’s still at risk—as is its main source of food, bamboo.