A decade ago, I moved to Tucson from the Boston area. It was like landing on another planet. One of the profound differences I found was the views toward to border – which are significantly different the closer one gets to it. Different, in a way I didn’t expect. People close to the border want this wall far less than those thousands of miles away. This is a broad generalization, but in my experience so far, true. A couple of years ago, I decided to find a way to give voice to the wildlife that stands to be affected by the wall. This is what happened. A veritable “wall” of portraits emerged over the next 2 years. My hope is that they will engage people enough that in our lifetimes, or our children’s, images aren’t the only thing left of these precious creatures.

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Baby Jaguar

“Critical Habitat” explores the ramifications of a barrier along our southern border for endangered and threatened wildlife and plant life. The range of the wall, from California through Arizona, New Mexico and into Texas, would profoundly affect over 100 currently endangered and threatened flora and fauna.

California Condor

Many of these species have very limited habitats which will be affected by construction and barriers. In some cases, inter-breeding among groups that currently crossbreed with their counterparts in Mexico will ensue, weakening the species. The Mexican Grey Wolf, Jaguar, Ocelot, and Pronghorn stand to be particularly impacted. For the birds, barrier(s) affect their food sources and potential nesting and breeding habitats, which will die off or leave the area. The pygmy owl doesn’t like to leave the undergrowth and only flies about 5′ off the ground – and that’s under duress and only for very short distances. They will not fly over a wall. We have a responsibility, as caretakers of our planet to do better.

Pronghorn

The fascinating thing about this project was that I knew about the jaguar, the pronghorn and the bighorn and ocelot and Mexican grey wolf – and a couple of other mammals, but to discover the vastness of the potential ecological ripples was really jaw-dropping for me once I started researching!

Sonoran Tiger Salamander

All images are oil on panel. All images copyright, Greta Ward.

To learn more about this labor of love, please visit my website.

Northern Aplomado Falcon

Critical Habitat: Imperiled Wildlife Along the Border