“It’s my job to be optimistic, but it’s a scary prospect. It’s difficult enough to convince people to save an elephant or a gorilla. It’s much harder to get them to care about a tiny tree frog.” 

Piotr Naskrecki, those of us who love amphibians know how you feel. I’ve been reading a gorgeous photography and essay book, The Smaller Majority, by Piotr Naskrecki. I emphasize that the book is more than scores of amazing photographs. Naskrecki, the director of Conservation International’s Invertebrate Diversity Initiative, and research associate at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, captures in words what so many of us with Amphibian Ark find so utterly frustrating as we attempt to draw attention to the crisis facing amphibians — and the seeming indifference to that plight. These are excerpts from the forward in the book I find so spot on:

“Most of animal life on Earth is small. Over 90 percent of known species are smaller than a human finger, smaller, in fact, than your fingernail. Our perspective on reality is severaly handicapped by our gargantuan size, rare giants surrounded by the smaller majority. Our enormous size prevents us from appreciating, or even noticing, most of what shares this planet with us and forces us to focus our attention on other equally large, or larger, creatures. We proclaim kinship with wolves and deer, even while we hold our breath before squeezing the trigger, and cultures across the globe revere eagles, bears, and lions, but few pay any attention to lizards and snails. Size is the great divider…

“Unlike most mammals, who live in a sensual world dominated by scents, our is a species that relies on  vision. Eyes help us make emotional connection with other people as well as other species. We prefer animals that can return our gaze, which puts many smaller organisms, some of which may have “too many” eyes or none at all, at a great disadvantage in the struggle for our affection.

“From pollination to seed dispersal, from soil production to waste removeal, and from water filtering to being food for others, invertebrates make Earth a livable planet. As tragic and unforgivable as it would be, the disappearance of mountain gorillas would have far smaller ecological repercussions than the extinction of a single species of savanna termite. We should never have to choose between these two species, of course.”

To learn more about Piotr’s work, check out this story in the Harvard University Gazette.

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