Trading to Extinction – a crowdfunded book’s success story
Day by day, hour by hour, our planet’s rarest creatures are being hunted, trapped and slaughtered to feed a global black market in wildlife products.
The trade, worth hundreds of millions of dollars every year, is devastating some of our best loved species and could have irrevocable consequences for life on earth.
For more than ten years, Australian photographer Patrick Brown and British journalist Ben Davies have followed the global wildlife trade and its gruesome pursuit of profit. Their investigations have taken them to some of the most remote corners of Asia to document the poachers, the dealers, the trafficking routes and the battle to save what is left of our dwindling wildlife populations.
“Trading to Extinction” is the result of their decade-long project. Patrick Brown managed to crowdfund the book through Emphas.is with the support of 162 backers who raised $25,820. This is almost $11,000 more than his initial fundraising goal. This beautifully produced black and white photographic book features Brown’s prize-winning images. In one stark portrait, we see an elephant in chains that epitomizes how man has brought down some of nature’s most majestic species. In another, two poachers in a Nepalese jail who face 20 years behind bars if convicted.
Using impeccable contacts with wildlife investigators, conservationists and enforcement agencies, Brown and Davies spent time embedded with various organizations intent upon slowing the trade of exotic animals. The result is an intensely personal story told through photographs and words.
As with drug trafficking, money feeds the animal trade. Its tentacles wrap around the world from the last pristine rainforests in Asia to major cities in the West. A poacher who kills a rhino and removes its horn in India gets $350. That same horn sells for $1,000 in a nearby market town. By the time it reaches Hong Kong, Beijing or the Middle East, the horn is worth $60,000. Tiger bones are worth up to $700 per kilo.
But the fight-back has begun. There is an extraordinary worldwide movement that is bringing together people from diverse backgrounds in a bid to save our most endangered species.
‘Trading to Extinction’ is a compelling expose of the animal trade and a tribute to the men and women who are battling to save our precious wildlife before it is too late.
The project is supported by FREELAND Foundation, an international organization dedicated to stopping illegal wildlife trade and human slavery. FREELAND works throughout Asia, raising public awareness and building local capacity to protect critical ecosystems, wildlife and vulnerable people. For more information, visit Freeland or their facebook page.
About the Photographer/ Author
Patrick Brown is an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Sunday Times Magazine, Aperture, The New York Times, Stern, Der Spiegel and GEO. Brown’s photographs of the wildlife trade have earned him prestigious awards including second prize in the World Press Photo Awards 2005, Picture of the Year, Days Japan and a 3p Foundation Award. His photographs are featured in Black Market – Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia, published by Palace Press. Brown has been a member of Panos Pictures since 2004.
Ben Davies is a Bangkok-based journalist whose work has appeared in a wide range of distinguished publications and media including the International Herald Tribune, the London Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal and the BBC. He is the author of Black Market – Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia. He has also written and photographed five other books around Asia including Living with Spirits – A Journey into the Heart of Thailand.
Emphas.is is the first crowdfunding platform devoted exclusively to photojournalism. It connects photojournalists directly with their audience, and in the process creates an alternative funding source for in-depth visual journalism. On Emphas.is photojournalists pitch their projects directly to the public. It is the public, rather than editorial boards, that gets to decide whether a story or book is worth doing. By agreeing to back a story, members of the public are making sure that the issues they care about receive the in-depth coverage they deserve. In exchange backers are invited along on the journey.