The power of photographs is one to be reckoned with. When it comes to the animal world, images offer a chance not only for admiration but also for mobilization. Arresting snapshots of melting polar ice caps or polar bears’ succumbing to the effects of global warming may endear us to donate to charities aimed at saving the animals. They might make us rethink our answer when we are offered a single-use plastic bag, or research new ways of reducing our carbon footprint.
The women-led initiative Vital Impacts is taking this thinking and running with it, rounding up prints by 100 photographers from around the world—Nick Brandt, Chris Burkard, Jimmy Chin, Tamara Dean, David Doubilet, Cristina Mittermeier, and others—in an effort to raise $1 million for charities concerned with the protection of endangered habitats, such as the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program, Great Plains Foundation’s Project Ranger, and SeaLegacy.
The series, curated by National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale, includes several recognizable images, including photos of chimpanzees taken by a young, scrawny Jane Goodall in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park—several of these limited-edition shots are signed and dated 60 years ago—as well as Paul Nicklen’s picture of emperor penguins planted stoically on top of icebergs in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Lesser-known images include James Balog’s California sequoia, whose impossible height makes the whole picture seem almost dystopian, and Vitale’s heartbreaking photograph of Joseph Wachira coaxing the world’s last living white rhino through its last breaths. If these photos don’t move you to act, we don’t know what will. —Elena Clavarino
To see the Vital Impacts photographs or donate to the initiative, visit vitalimpacts.org