IN AN AUSTRIAN MEADOW AGLOW with summer sunlight, a European ground squirrel stretches to sniff a wild aster before nibbling the tender blooms. Hiding in a photo blind, Julian Rad was thrilled to capture this ethereal portrait of a rare creature, listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Adapted to treeless grasslands with low vegetation, these squirrels “need the short grass to be able to see enemies,” says Rad, who has spent a decade photographing small mammals in his native Austria. By some measures, numbers of European ground squirrels have fallen 30 percent during the past 10 years or so as grasslands have been transformed by agriculture and forestry, shrub incursion and urban development.
Concerned about human impacts on habitat, Rad hopes “to open people’s eyes to nature with the emotion in my images, showing these adorable creatures in splendid detail while bringing to life rare and unique moments.” Capturing those moments, he adds, requires “empathy, knowledge of the species, patience, endurance—and a pinch of luck.” European ground squirrels and other dwindling species will need more than a pinch of luck if they are to survive and thrive.
A new storymap connects the dots between extreme weather and climate change and illustrates the harm these disasters inflict on communities and wildlife.Learn More
Take the Clean Earth Challenge and help make the planet a happier, healthier place.Learn More
Promoting more-inclusive outdoor experiences for allRead More
A groundbreaking bipartisan bill aims to address the looming wildlife crisis before it's too late, while creating sorely needed jobs.Read More
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.