Dominican photographers’ work may save two species from extinction

A photo exhibit by Dominican photographers, which just opened in London, focuses on two mammal species endemic to Hispaniola that are on the brink of extinction. Deforestation, the proliferation of invasive species and pollution are some of the factors blamed for the decimation of the island’s endemic mammals by Jose Núñez-Miño of the Durrel Foundation for the Conservation of Wild Species. The jutías (Plagiodontia aedium), herbivores that nest in trees, and the solenodontes (Solenodon Paradoxus), insectivorous mammals which coexisted with the dinosaurs, are Hispaniola’s only surviving indigenous land mammals, but are in danger of extinction. “The problem when protecting these species is that we know nothing about them. We don’t know why they survived while others perished or how many remain in surviving colonies,” Núñez said to Efe. La Hispaniola, shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, has suffered from the clearing of forests for pasturelands and plantations, which deplete the soil’s nutrients. Núñez said pollution is another factor aggravating the ecosystem, and where endemic species try to survive they face the threat of new predators such as cats, dogs or ferrets. “We’re realistic. We know that people in a zone of the world with so much poverty as this one must live on agriculture, but must also have areas reserved for nature. It’s necessary to strike a balance.”

In addition to the exhibit, which lasts until August 26 at the Apothecary Gallery in London, a series  of lectures will address the future on surviving species in the Caribbean islands, an effort to create awareness of the need to learn more about these animals, and the plans to save them from extinction.

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