The series “Lonesome George” is named after the last Galapagos tortoise of his kind, who died in 2012. All the animals depicted here are extinct or are in the process of extinction as a result of human activity. Each paper cutting is cut from a single black sheet of paper. The letters in the names stand for the animal’s preservation status: EX=extinct, CR=critically endangered.
Ivory Billed Wood Pecker (CR)
The Ivory Billed Woodpecker is, or was, one of the largest species of Woodpeckers in the world, formerly common in the southeastern forests of the United States. Massive deforestation and hunting depleted its population to a point where it was generally considered extinct in the 1920s when a pair turned up in Florida, only to be shot for specimens. Though reports have indicated it has been seen again in the current century, they are unconfirmed. The species is currently listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the IUCN.
Javan Tiger (EX)
The Javan tiger used to live in the heavy forests that once covered a quarter of the Indonesian island of Java. The increase in the island’s human population led to massive deforestation, making room for coffee, rubber and teak plantations and rice fields. By 1975, the forests covered only 8 percent of the island. The last Java tiger was spotted in 1979.
Seychelles Parakeet (EX)
The Seychelles Parakeet was endemic to the Seychelles. Its population declined radically due to heavy deforestation, executed in order to clear land for agricultural needs. The remaining parakeets were hunted down by farmers to protect those fields. By the end of the 19th century, the Seychelles Parakeet had gone extinct.
Formosan Clouded Leopard (EX)
The Formosan Clouded Leopard was endemic to the island of Taiwan, and was named after the beautiful cloud-like spots on its fur. Extensive logging of its natural habitat retreated the Formosan Clouded Leopard into concentrated areas, making it easier for illegal hunters to reach them. Their foggy fur, teeth and claws were used as decorations and souvenirs for tourists and their bones and flesh for potions in traditional Chinese medicine. Live tigers were hunted for exotic pet trade. The last Formosan Clouded Leopard was seen in Taiwan in 1983.The two other sub-species of the Clouded Leopard still exist in Asia, declared VU (vulnerable) by the IUCN due to the ongoing illegal hunting.
Western Black Rhino (EX)
Rhinos throughout Africa are constantly being hunted, both in trophy hunting and for their horn. The horn serves as a status symbol and as a fundamental ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, believed to treat various diseases, from Typhoid to diabolic possession. The demand, along with the price, keeps rising. Horn poachers use tranquilizer guns to bring the rhinos down and cut their horn off, leaving the rhino to wake up and bleed to a slow, painful death. The Poachers are often armed with guns supplied by international criminal organizations, making them very dangerous for the anti-poaching teams. Controlled, safe dehorning is one of the methods used in attempt to make them unattractive for poachers. This procedure is only partially effective because of its need to be repeated every two years due to the regrowth of the horn. Moreover, due to the horn’s high price, hunters are willing to kill a rhinoceros even for a horn stump, and sometimes just for revenge. The Black West African rhinoceros was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2011. Other subspecies are mostly conserved in national conservative parks under the protection of the governments, in hopes for their survival.
Carolina Parakeet (EX)
The Carolina Parakeet was a very social north American bird. It was massively hunted for its beautiful feathers, for pet trade, to protect crops and for fun. When a flock member fell ill or died, many others gathered around it, making them an easy target for hunters. Incas, the last Caroline parakeet, died in 1918 at the Cincinnati Zoo a few months following the death of Lady Jane, his mate.
Pyrenean Ibex (EX)
The combination of massive hunting, horn poaching, infections, diseases and other factors led to the point that by the end of the 20th century, only one Pyrenean Ibex, Celia, remained. Celia was killed in 2000 by a fallen tree. Scientists used samples of blood and tissue taken from Cilia a year prior to her death in order to clone several embryos, and implanted them in surrogate goats. Only one pregnancy survived, and in January 2003 a baby Pyrenean Ibex was born, only to die of lung defects seven minutes later, thus becoming the first species in history to go extinct twice.
Passenger Pigeon (EX)
The Passenger Pigeon was an extremely social bird, very common in North America until the beginning of the 20th century. It lived in huge flocks, frequently described as being so dense that they blackened the sky. Together they flew, migrated, roosted and nested. This communally breeding bird nested in colonies so huge they were called “cities”, consisting of many thousands of birds, sometimes hundreds on a single tree. The social lifestyle of this bird made it a convenient and easy target for humans. Hunters cut down nesting trees or set fire to the tree base, so that the adults would flee and the young would fall to the ground. Others burned Sulfur beneath the nesting tree to suffocate the birds, which fell, dazed and weak, off the tree. Some hunters would blind a bird and tie it to a stool to lure others to a trap. Native Americans hunted them mainly for meat. Later European settlers- for sport as well. The last flock, about a quarter of a million individuals, was destroyed in one day in a hunting competition in 1896. Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
Sumatran Tiger (CR)
The Sumatran Tiger is endemic to the island of Sumatra and is hunted for its beautiful fur and for its bones and internal organs, commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2008, as the population in the wild is now estimated to be approximately 500 individuals, with a few more in Zoos throughout the world. The Sumatran Tiger is the last existing relative of a Bali tiger and the Javan tiger, both of which went extinct in the 20th century. Despite conservation efforts, the illegal hunting is still ongoing.