Errol Fuller is an artist and author, and an expert on the history of natural history. He was the author of the seminal Extinct Birds, and has written authoritative works on animals now long gone, such as the Great Auk and the Dodo, and on various aspects of the history of art. His last book, on the discovery and art of the birds-of-paradise, was co-authored with David Attenborough.
Errol’s first book for Bloomsbury is called Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. 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 often taken in zoos or wildlife parks, and in a handful of cases featured the last known individual of the species. There are some well-known examples, such as Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, or one of the last Ivory-billed Woodpeckers known, peering quizzically at the hat of its owner while chained forlornly by the leg, 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 forms the focus of this remarkable book. Lost Animals features photographs dating from around 1870 to as recently as 2004, the year that saw the demise of the Hawaiian Po’o-uli. From a mother Thylacine and her cubs to now-extinct birds such as the Heath Hen and Carolina Parakeet, Errol Fuller tells the tale of each animal, why it became extinct, and discusses the circumstances surrounding the photography itself, in a book rich with 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.
Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record is published by Bloomsbury on 24th November, 2013.