National Geographic, Oppo and Joel Sartore turn the lens toward colorful endangered animals


posted Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT


There are nearly 40,000 threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources's (IUCN) Red List. Among these threatened species, more than 16,000 are endangered. It's estimated that in the last 500 years, human activity has caused at least 800 species to go extinct, and there are at least a further 65 species that only exist now in captivity. Despite many efforts by biologists, scientists and governments around the world, the situation continues to get worse, and biodiversity faces a grave, existential and immediate threat.

The situation is dire, there's no doubt about that, but we can't give up. Organizations like National Geographic have done considerable work. For example, the National Geographic Photo Ark is led by photographer Joel Sartore. The Photo Ark is a multi-year effort, in participation with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, to document every species living in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries worldwide. The goal of the project is to inspire action through education and support on-the-ground conservation efforts. So far, Sartore has captured portraits of more than 11,000 species. No matter the animal, Sartore gives careful attention and captures moving, beautiful portraits.

Smartphone manufacturer Oppo has gotten in on the project as well, partnering with Sartore to produce 'Endangered Colors,' a celebration of some of nature's most colorful endangered species. 'Every color of the rainbow is at risk,' and many colorful creatures are on the verge of being wiped out from the wild. Climate change is a large part of the problem, of course, as is habitat destruction.


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No matter their beauty or color, all animals play a vital role in their respective ecosystems, and these ecosystems are very fragile. While it's true that small changes can add up to devastating, destructive and deadly effects, it's also true that small positive changes can add up and have a far-reaching impact.


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Oppo and Sartore have published several short videos for the new 'Endangered Color' series. The three videos, focused on red, green and blue endangered species, can be seen below:

While Sartore is used to shooting with dedicated professional photographic equipment, for the new 'Endangered Color' series he made with Oppo, he used the Oppo Find X3 Pro smartphone. The experience was different, but using a smartphone did have some advantages for the seasoned pro. You can see a couple of behind-the-scenes videos below and learn how shooting with a smartphone was different from Sartore's typical photographic workflow.

It's difficult to express just how critical Sartore's mission is. Fortunately, he is far from the only photographer working to inspire conservation efforts. You can learn more about ethical photography and filmmaking at the International League of Conservation Photographers. You can explore Sartore's Photo Ark work by visiting National Geographic. It's a stunning collection of portraits. About 15,000 species are living in zoos around the world, and Sartore hopes to photograph them all. He's well on his way. If you'd like to donate to the Photo Ark, click here. Donations contribute to conservation and habitat restoration work around the globe.

(Via PetaPixel