A photograph of an animal long-gone evokes a feeling of loss more than a painting ever can. Often tinted sepia or black-and-white, these images were mainly taken in zoos or wildlife parks, and in a handful of cases featured the last known individual of the species. There are some familiar examples, such as Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, or the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, recently fledged and perching happily on the hat of one of the biologists that had just ringed it. But for every Martha there are a number of less familiar extinct birds and mammals that were caught on camera prior to their demise.
The photographic record of extinction is the focus of this remarkable book, written by the world's leading authority on vanished animals, Errol Fuller. Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record features photographs dating from around 1870 to as recently as 2004, the year that saw the demise of the Hawaiian Po'ouli. From a mother Thylacine and her pups to now-extinct birds such as the Heath Hen and Carolina Parakeet, Fuller tells the tale of each animal, why it became extinct, and discusses the circumstances surrounding the photography itself, in a book rich with unique images.
The photographs themselves are poignant and compelling. They 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.
Since 1987, when he published the first edition of his seminal Extinct Birds, Errol Fuller has been the world's number one authority on extinct birds. An author and artist, Fuller's many titles include the breathtaking monograph The Great Auk (2000), Dodo - From Extinction To Icon (2002) and The Passenger Pigeon (2014).
"[...] Reading Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record is a reverential experience. Fuller is absolutely correct about the power of these photographs. I’m thankful that these vestiges of what we’ve squandered have been preserved, and now made available for all to see."
- Grant McCreary (23-03-2014)
"[...] Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record is a unique book; it connects us to lost birds and mammals through the medium of their images. It is a book for birders who want to enhance their readings of BirdLife International records and Passenger Pigeon and Ivory-billed Woodpecker histories with an approach that is visual and personal. Reading the stories of these extinct creatures evokes sadness and anger, yes, but, as I said earlier, it also brings out hope. I’m not just talking about the few instances where Fuller says there is the slimmest of slim chances that the bird is not extinct. There is hope because extinction is being witnessed. And remembered. It’s a lot harder to ignore conservation campaigns to save habitat when you’ve seen the ‘photographic record’ of what happens when you do. This is probably a naive statement to write in the face of articles and books placing us on the edge of a “sixth extinction”. I am taking my cue from Fuller, who finds vitality in old, fuzzy photographs and who, I suspect, really does hope that by unearthing more archival images of the dead he can somehow keep all species alive."
- Donna, 10,000 Birds blog, 03-06-2014