Noah Goes Digital: Meet the Photographer building a ‘Photo Ark’ for endangered animals


SOLEDAD: I KNOW YOU KNOW THE
STORY OF NOAH’S ARK. FROM THE BOOK OF GENESIS, IT
GOES LIKE THIS — THE EARTH IS
ABOUT TO BE ENGULFED BY A FLOOD. NOAH SAVES ALL THE ANIMALS BY
USHERING THEM ONTO HIS ARK TWO
BY TWO EVERY LIVING THING ONE
MALE AND ONE FEMALE. PHOTOGRAPHER, JOEL SARTORE,
COULD BE CALLED A MODERN DAY
NOAH. BUT INSTEAD OF A BOAT, HE HAS
HIS CAMERA. FOR THE PAST DECADE, HE HAS
TRAVELED THE WORLD,
PHOTOGRAPHING THE MOST
ENDANGERED ANIMALS ON THE
PLANET. THE PHOTOS ARE INCLUDED IN
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S UPCOMING
SPECIAL ISSUE ON EXTINCTION, AND
IN THE BOOK, “THE PHOTO ARK
VANISHING: THE WORLD’S MOST
VULNERABLE ANIMALS.” JOEL SARTORE JOINS ME VIA SKYPE
FROM LINCOLN, NEBRASKA. THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME. 10,000 PHOTOS THAT YOU’VE
CAPTURED, 10,000 DIFFERENT
ENDANGERED ANIMALS. WAS THE GOAL, JOEL, TO KEEP A
VERSION LIKE AN ARCHIVE OR WAS
THE GOAL TO SORT OF PUSH PEOPLE
TO CARE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE? JOEL: THERE YOU GO. IT’S BOTH ACTUALLY. IT IS THE WORLD’S LARGEST
ARCHIVE OF BIODIVERSIT
WE PHOTOGRAPH RARE OR COMMON
ANIMALS AT THIS POINT BECAUSE WE
DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO GO
AWAY ON THIS IN THE NEXT 25, 50, 100 YEARS. BUT IT REALLY MORE THAN JUST
BEING A GIANT OBITUARY, IT’S
MEANT TO INSPIRE PEOPLE TO CARE
AND TO LESSEN THE EXTINCTION
CRISIS THAT’S COMING UP. SOLEDAD: WHAT MAKES THE PUBLIC
CARE? WHAT IS THE THING THAT HELPED
SOMEBODY TO REALLY CARE ABOUT AN
ANIML THAT MAYBE THEY NEVER
EVEN HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE IN A
ZOO OR IN THEIR COMMUNITY. JOEL: RIGHT. WELL, WE WILL LOVE IT IF WE
NEVER EVEN MET IT. SO THE PHOTO ARK IS A GIANT
DATING SERVICE I GUESS BETWEEN
BIODIVERSITY AND THE PUBLIC. WE’RE MAMMALS OURSELVES, WE’RE
PRIMATES. WE LOVE I CONTACT. SO WE WANT TO GET A GOOD LOOK AT
THEM IN PROPER LIGHTING ON BLACK
AND WHITE BACKGROUNDS THERE’S NO
DISTRACTIONS, WE CAN SEE THAT
THERE’S GREAT INTELLIGENCE AND
POWER IN ALL OF THEM AND I BELIEVE THEY HAVE A BASIC RIGHT
TO EXIST. SOLEDAD: I WANT TO WALK THROUGH
A COUPLE. I KNOW YOU’VE SAID THEY’RE YOUR
FAVORITE BUT I THINK PROBABLY
YOU HAVE 10,000 FAVORITES. THE FIRST IS THE BABY PANGOLIN. TELL ME ABOUT THAT. JOEL: RIGHT. SO IN IT’S AN EFFORT TO GET
EVERY CAPTIVE SPECIES ON THE
PLANET. THIS PANGOLIN WAS PRETTY
SIGNIFICANT IN THAT IT’S AN
ANIMAL THAT IS REALLY GETTING
CLOSER AND CLOSER TO EXTINCTION
EVERY YEAR. THEY’RE EASY TO HUNT. THEY HUNT THEM WITH DOGS AT
NIGHT. THEY’RE EASY TO JUST PICK UP AND
PUT UP IN A GUNNY SACK AND THIS
IS A MOM CARRYING HER BABY
AROUND ON HER TAIL AT A CAPTIVE
BREEDING FACILITY IN FLORIDA. THAT IS AN ANIMAL THAT IS
HEAVILY USED IN CHINESE MEDICI
FOR MEAT AND FOR SCALES AND IF
WE DON’T STOP AND PAY ATTENTION
WE’RE LEVEL TO LOSE IT. SOLEDAD: THE MANDRILL IS LOOKING
AT ITSELF IN YOUR LENS AND HAS
HIS HANDS OVER HIS MOUTH. JOEL: THAT’S RIGHT. THIS WAS AT A BUSHMEAT MARKET IN
EQUATORIAL GUINEA. THE ANIMAL IS CHAINED TO AN OLD
RUSTY CAR AND LIABLE TO BE MADE
IN STEW THAT NIGHT. AND SO WE BROUGHT BLACK VELVET
ALONG AND MADE HIM IMMORTAL. HE’S PROBABLY SEEING HIMSELF FOR
THE VERY FIRST TIME IN THE
REFLECTION OF MY LENS FILTER. SO THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE SEEING
THERE. SOLEDAD: SUCH A BEAUTIFUL,
BEAUTIFUL PHOTO. YOU ARE NOW WELL INTO YOUR
SECOND DECADE OF THIS PROJECT
WITH HEADING TO 10,000 ANIMALS
PHOTOGRAPHED. WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE
DONE? WHEN DOES THE PROJECT EN
JOEL: WELL, THERE ARE BETWEEN
12,000 AND 15,000 SPECIES IN
HUMAN CARE GLOBALLY. WE’RE NEARING 10,000 AFTER 13
YEARS. SO ANOTHER 10 YEARS. WE HAVE TO GO FARTHER TO GET
FEWER BUT TO GET THOSE LAST 2000
FROM HOME ANOTHER 10, 15 YEARS,
I THINK. AND THEN THAT’LL BE ABOUT IT. I HOPE. SOLEDAD: THE BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL. IT’S CALLED “THE PHOTO ARK
VANISHING: THE WORLD’S MOST
VULNERABLE ANIMALS.”
GO TO NATGEO.COM AND TAKE THAT
SAVE TOGETHER PLEDGE. THANK YOU, JOEL.

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