There are around 8.7 million living species. Scientists estimate that at least 150–200 of these go extinct every day. With the help of the IUCN Red List we can estimate which species are in the risk zone of soon going extinct. Wikipedia has many articles on these species, but few of them have images or illustrations because of the low population of these species.
Critically endangered species
iNaturalist is, according to Wikipedia, "a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists". Their contributors try to photograph these species and confirm their identities. By June 2020, over 41,800,000 observations on the platform had been made. In some cases an upload to iNaturalist is the first known photograph of a species.
The users of the website can, just like on Flickr, release their images under a Creative Commons license. Many take advantage of this and release their images, but in most cases under a "non-commercial" or "non-derivative" license, which is incompatible with Wikimedia Commons since they only accept images which can be freely shared and remixed even in commercial products, and thereby incompatible with Wikipedia as well.
I've spent the past week doing outreach and messaging users on iNaturalist. I've located observations with identifications marked as research-grade (meaning that at least two thirds of all users agree on a species, with a minimum of two users) where no image existed on Wikimedia Commons or Wikipedia, and asked them to consider re-licensing their image in order to be able to host it here. So far, I've convinced 40 users to relicense 43 images where we have had articles on a species but no free image. Many of these are marked as endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
All I need to do is work 10 times as fast – or get help from 10 other users – and I might be able to illustrate more articles on species than go extinct each day. At least I can help out and get photos of species before it is all too late.
- Black, Richard (2011-08-23). "Species count put at 8.7 million". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
- Vidal, John (2010-08-17). "Scientist: Mass Extinction Happening Unlike Anything The World Has Seen Since Dinosaurs Disappeared". HuffPost. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
- "First Known Photographs of Living Specimens". iNaturalist. Retrieved 30 July 2020.