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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# nat geo
Stunning portraits taken of the world's endangered animals - before they disappear
Check out the beautiful Arctic Fox.
For many of Earth’s creatures, time is running out. Half of the world’s plant & animal species are projected to go extinct by 2100.

THAT IS THE stark line printed in November’s issue of National Geographic which focusses entirely on the subject of climate change.


In the magazine, writer Jennifer Holland looks at what animals will be the winners and losers in evolution. It is accompanied by a set of stunning images from Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark project.

With the series, National Geographic hopes to create portraits of the world’s captive species before they disappear.

The aim? To make people everywhere care.

The photographer’s collection already includes 5,000 species but he still has another 7,000 to go. He believes it’s not too late to save some of these beautiful creatures.

Greater Yellowlegs

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_001 © Joel Sartore / National Geographic © Joel Sartore / National Geographic / National Geographic

Here stands an adaptable bird that so far is thriving in a changing environment. The Audubon Society reports seeing this sandpiper in high numbers on its Christmas Bird Counts, especially inland in the southern US In some areas space available for these birds may double, but it’s unknown if they’ll fill it, and summers may become too hot to handle. Photo taken at Tulsa Zoo, OK

Woodland Caribou

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_002 © Joel Sartore / National Geographic © Joel Sartore / National Geographic / National Geographic

Already pressured by habitat loss, woodland caribou could face a food shortage. More snow and freezing rain (a result of warmer temperatures adding moisture to dry, Arctic air) crust over lichen, caribou’s winter diet, making it hard to access. In summer, increasing droughts bring fires that kill the slow-growing lichen. Photo taken at NY State Zoo in Thompson Park.

Arctic Fox

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_004 © Joel Sartore / National Geographic © Joel Sartore / National Geographic / National Geographic

As tundra habitat melts, this snow-loving fox will find fewer seal carcasses left on ice by polar bears and fewer lemmings — food for fox pups — whose numbers peak in the coldest winters. It may also face competition as the more adaptable red fox expands north. Photo taken at Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo, Kansas

Merriam’s Kangaroo Rat

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_005 Joel Sartore Joel Sartore

This pair takes the heat in stride. In the southwestern US and Mexico, kangaroo rats are already well adapted to arid conditions, and they’ve stayed robust during previous temperature hikes. The rodents are quick and flexible reproducers, and their diet of diverse seeds and occasional insects gives them wiggle room if some plant and bug species fizzle in the heat. Photographed in Fortworth Zoo, Texas.

American Bullfrog

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_003 © Joel Sartore / National Geographic © Joel Sartore / National Geographic / National Geographic

This native of North America — a voracious predator and tough competitor that spreads amphibian disease — has made its way onto other continents and spread like an army, especially in South America. It is by leaps and bounds one of the worst (most successful) invasive species on the planet. Climate change will slow its advance in some areas, but other highly biodiverse habitats will become more bullfrog friendly, meaning further raids against native species. Photgraphed in Bennet, Nebraska

Spectacled Eider

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_006 Joel Sartore Joel Sartore

Specialised needs put these northern ducks at risk. In winter the birds gather in a small, cold, nutrient-rich area of the Bering Sea to dive for clams and other marine life. But as ice retreats, spectacled eiders’ habitats and access to food resources in their wintering grounds are changing. Meanwhile coastal changes are altering the ducks’ breeding habitat on tundra wetlands. Photographed in Alaska Sealife Centre

White-Fronted Lemur

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_009 Joel Sartore Joel Sartore

Over the next 70 years, lemur species on the island of Madagascar could lose about 60 percent of their habitat due to climate change. If climate were the animals’ only foe, perhaps the white-fronted lemur could survive; climate change won’t shrink its lowland and montane habitat. But other factors may—chief among them, slash-and-burn agriculture and a growing human population. Photographed in Naples Zoo, Florida

Chinstrap Penguin

species_winners_losers_ngm_1115_010 Joel Sartore Joel Sartore

Winners turned losers: Chinstraps prefer open to ice-choked waters, so in the past 50 years of fast-melting Antarctic ice, their population boomed. But now increasing ultraviolet light exposure is killing off the algae eaten by krill (the penguins’ food source), and that means less krill for penguins to share with rebounding whale populations. Soon environmental change may beat tourism as the biggest threat to chinstraps. Photographed at Newport Aquarium, Kentucky

More: The winning photos in this year’s National Geographic contest are pretty stunning

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