Just in time for Earth Day, Portugal. The Man have partnered with Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute to release a limited-edition run of 400 records to raise awareness for critically endangered Sumatran tigers.
“[The song is] a metaphor for endangered species in hopes that it will raise awareness for the tigers and also keep the song alive like we’re trying to keep the tigers alive,” said bassist Zachary Scott Carothers. The number of copies was hardly arbitrary, as there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. “In order to raise funding and support to save the species, we need awareness,” says the narrator in the video above.
The track, “Sumatran Tiger,” does not officially exist digitally, and, like all vinyl records, will eventually degrade and also become extinct. According to the video above, the copies were sent “to 400 carefully chosen influencers, among them actors, activists, musicians, conservationists, bloggers and journalists” and is, as the band claims, “the first song meant to go extinct unless it’s reproduced.”
The band encouraged fans to “scour the Internet” using the hashtags #endangeredsong and #sumatrantiger to find recordings of the song. As of Tuesday morning, a few similar-sounding tracks that are supposedly “Sumatran Tiger” have been posted to SoundCloud. Thankfully, nobody has sold out and listed the record on eBay so far. You can hear the Sentinels of Sound version of the song below:
“I don’t want to say, ‘You don’t really know what you have until it’s gone,’ but there’s a whole lot of truth in that. Look at all these things we used to have that aren’t there anymore,” Carothers says toward the end of the video. “We put out the vinyl, and we gave it to you. And now it’s your responsibility to pass it along and keep it alive. If nobody does anything, then the song won’t be around anymore.”
This isn’t the first time Portugal. The Man have pitched in for Mother Nature: In 2012, the band starred in the Nature Conservancy’s All Hands on Earth campaign, which sought to “inspire fans to protect the environment.”