We hope that this letter finds you well, healthy and safe. As we cope with and try to comprehend the coronavirus pandemic, we bring you this inaugural issue of the Species in Peril e-letter. We acknowledge that the letter is originating in New Mexico, the traditional homelands of the Indigenous Pueblo and Diné peoples.

It includes a two-part reflection on COVID-19 and the escalating biodiversity crisis and two original drawings.

Hope you will take a few minutes to read—and if you like what you read/see—then please pass along to others. We are also encouraging and granting permission to re-post the articles along with the drawings. We only request that you acknowledge the publisher as Species in Peril and provide a link back to the respective source webpage.

COVID-19 Lights Up Biological Annihilation
By Subhankar Banerjee, Species in Peril, 26 April 2020
Drawing by laura c. carlson, Bats are not our enemies, 2020, graphite on paper


A “Wild” Tale of Two Nations
By Subhankar Banerjee, Species in Peril, 26 April 2020
Drawing by laura c. carlson, Conference of the Parties, 2020, mixed media on paper


What is Species in Peril?

At the turn of this century, a short text with the title “RESOURCES: Species in Peril” was published in the journal Science, which alerted that more than 1,200 animals and plants in the United States are “in enough trouble to make the federal government’s endangered species list.” Two decades later, an additional 400 species have been added to that list—granting the United States the #3 spot on the list of species in peril by nations, according to the IUCN Red List. The global picture isn’t encouraging either.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which operates under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, issued what could be considered the grimmest warming of human history—that 1 million animal and plant species are facing extinction, many within decades—all due to human activities.

Then came along Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande

With the grim UN biodiversity assessment as the impetus, community members across the Rio Grande / Río Bravo watershed in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands came together and organized Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande as a creative response to the crisis. The expansive transnational project included a main exhibition at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was cocurated by Subhankar Banerjee and Dr. Josie Lopez (Curator of Art, Albuquerque Museum), along with nearly a dozen associated additional exhibitions, murals and public art projects organized by institutions across the region, as well as extensive public programming in northern Chihuahua (Mexico), west Texas, New Mexico and southern Colorado, which was coconvened by Suzanne Sbarge (Executive Director of 516 ARTS) and Subhankar Banerjee.

The project was developed by 516 ARTS and the Art & Ecology program at the University of New Mexico, in partnership with a large number of arts, academic, cultural and conservation organizations and institutions in the Rio Grande / Río Bravo watershed.

As the project came to a close end of last year, we decided to build a website with an archive of what was accomplished that could serve as a resource for learning, teaching, scholarship and community organizing. We are pleased to announce the launch of that website now.


The quarterly Species in Peril e-letter is an outgrowth of the project, with which we plan to share articles and art as well as news about our future programming on biodiversity crisis and conservation in our region and from around the globe.

Be well, be safe!

Subhankar Banerjee, editor, Species in Peril

Images: laura c carlson, Bats are not our enemies, 2020, pencil on paper.
laura c carlson, Conference of the Parties, 2020, mixed media on paper.

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