Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

Errol Fuller

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0691161372

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A photograph of an extinct animal evokes a greater feeling of loss than any painting ever could. Often black and white or tinted sepia, these remarkable images have been taken mainly in zoos or wildlife parks, and in some cases depict the last known individual of the species. Lost Animals is a unique photographic record of extinction, presented by a world authority on vanished animals. Richly illustrated throughout, this handsome book features photographs dating from around 1870 to as recently as 2004, the year that witnessed the demise of the Hawaiian Po'ouli. From a mother Thylacine and her pups to birds such as the Heath Hen and the Carolina Parakeet, Errol Fuller tells the story of each animal, explains why it became extinct, and discusses the circumstances surrounding the photography.

Covering 28 extinct species, Lost Animals includes familiar examples like the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, and one of the last Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, photographed as it peers quizzically at the hat of one of the biologists who has just ringed it. But the book includes rare images as well, many never before published. Collected together here for the first time, these photographs provide a tangible link to animals that have now vanished forever, in a book that brings the past to life while delivering a warning for the future.

Poignant and compelling, Lost Animals also includes a concise introduction that looks at the earliest days of animal photography, and an appendix of drawings and paintings of the species covered.

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colonies of escaped birds (for instance, Rose-ringed Parakeets Psittacula krameri) that have survived – and seem to thrive – in parts of Europe and North America. As far as Carolina Parakeets were concerned, however, the one thing they didn’t seem able to cope with was the encroachment of humans and the changes they brought to the landscape. As European influence increased as the 18th and 19th centuries wore on, the range of the Carolina Parakeet steadily contracted west towards the Mississippi

a very wet montane plateau, pocked with bogs and sliced by wooded ravines. In this remote and pristine spot they found the last of the ´o´os. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that these long-time students of Hawaiian birdlore published a report on their experiences, and this can be found in a journal called the Wilson Bulletin (110, 1–22). In their report they explained the reasons for their delay: At the time we assumed that the relatively large wilderness ... would remain a refuge for endangered

individual seemed to be present. Either this bird, or perhaps another that was living nearby, was captured in the hope that a captive breeding programme could be initiated. The bird was a male, but no female was found; in fact no other member of the species could be located. A few months later, on May 15th 1984, this lone male died of unknown causes. A photo of a Guam Flycatcher nesting in a bamboo clump on Mount Santa Rosa, Guam, taken during the 1940s by an American working in the Pacific

Australia by Aborigines) and were steadily pegged back into remote areas until, eventually, they were eliminated from the mainland altogether. As Tasmania was settled by Europeans, first as a penal colony then as good farming country, the larger of the indigenous inhabitants were wiped out. First to go was the Tasmanian Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis). Next it was the turn of the original human inhabitants. The same four animals photographed (possibly by someone named Williamson)

once it became so small that hunting could not be expected to affect it, strongly suggests that a major ecological factor has been in play, rendering all plans and hopes for the species ultimately in vain. A hand-coloured version of one of Don Bleitz’s photographs from Galveston Island (courtesy of the Western Foundation for Vertebrate Zoology). Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius The story of the Passenger Pigeon is such a startling one that it is often told, and in all the

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