Your last chance to save Earth as we know it

An international consortium of more than 8,000 scientists have called for urgent help to save Earth’s 100 most threatened animals, plants and fungi.

While Nature has always operated by survival of the fittest, humanity’s increasing need for space is adding to the stresses on the natural kingdom.

The report blamed a loss of habitat, caused by a rising human population and other factors such as expanding cities, deforestation, pollution and climate change, for driving more and more species of animals and plants to extinction.

The 100 species, from 48 different countries are first in line to disappear completely if nothing is done to protect them.

They range from the Jamaican rock iguana – originally reported extinct, but now found to be clinging on with two small populations, to the suicide palm of Madagascar, which dies exhausted after producing tiny yellow flowers on a stem up to 5 metres (16 ft) long.

Many on the list, such as the Ethiopia’s liben lark, or the Seychelles sheath-tailed bat, may not be as familiar to us as lions or whales, but each adds something to the planet which, once lost, is gone forever.

The report, ‘Priceless or Worthless?’, says all the species need to be much better protected or face extinction by 2020.

The 124-page report will be presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in South Korea this week, and hopes to push the conservation of ‘worthless’ creatures up the agenda that is set by NGOs from around the globe.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation at ZSL, said: ‘Over half (of the 100 most endangered species) are receiving little or no attention.

‘The donor community and conservation movement are leaning increasingly towards a ‘what can nature do for us’ approach, where species and wild habitats are valued and prioritised according to the services they provide for people.

‘This has made it increasingly difficult for conservationists to protect the most threatened species on the planet.

‘While the utilitarian value of nature is important conservation goes beyond this. Do these species have a right to survive or do we have a right to drive them to extinction?’

Co-author of the report, ZSL’s Ellen Butcher says: ‘All the species listed are unique and irreplaceable.

‘If they vanish, no amount of money can bring them back. However, if we take immediate action we can give them a fighting chance for survival.

‘But this requires society to support the moral and ethical position that all species have an inherent right to exist.’

The IUCN said the report ‘hopes to push the conservation of ‘worthless’ creatures up the agenda that is set by NGOs (non-governmental organisations) from around the globe.’

‘We need a fund to prevent extinction, resourced by governments, that is in the billions, not millions,’ the report said, without specifying a currency.

Measures such as an expansion of protected areas or hunting bans were particularly needed, it said.

Baillie said people may have gone too far in recent years in judging animals and plants by the economic value of the services they provide, including food, medicine or as tourist attractions.

‘We need to keep the appreciation for the wonderful diversity of life on Earth as the key message, and then other utilitarian arguments have to be additional,’ he said.

Governments agreed in 2010 to a plan to protect life on earth that included the goal: ‘By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.’

The IUCN said that all species had value.

‘Although the value of some species may not appear obvious at first, all species in fact contribute in their way to the healthy functioning of the planet,’ said Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

The list of the 100 most endangered species included others such as the Cayman Islands ghost orchid, and the Javan rhino.

A ban on hunting had helped the recovery of the humpback whale, now estimated to number 60,000.

Captive breeding meant that Przewalski’s horse, once almost extinct, now numbered more than 300 in the wild from Ukraine to China.

The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) is one of the animals facing a bleak future. Escudo Island, 17km off the coast of Panama, is the only place in the world where these tiny sloths are found.

At half the size of their mainland cousins, and weighing roughly the same as a newborn baby, pygmy sloths are the smallest and slowest sloths in the world and remain Critically Endangered.

Similarly, the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) is one of the most threatened mammals in Southeast Asia. Known as the Asian unicorn because of its rarity, the population of these antelope may be down to few tens of individuals today.

In the UK, a small area in Wales is the only place in the world where the brightly coloured willow blister (Cryptomyces maximus) is found. Populations of the spore-shooting fungi are currently in decline, and a single catastrophic event could cause their total destruction.

Professor Baillie said: ‘If we believe these species are priceless it is time for the conservation community, government and industry to step up to the plate and show future generations that we value all life.”

Whilst monetising nature remains a worthwhile necessity for conservationists, the wider value of species on the brink of extinction should not be disregarded, the report states.

Full list of species:



Scientific Name Common Name Category Population Threats to Survival Action Required
Abies beshanzuensis Baishan Fir Conifer 5 mature individuals Agricultural expansion and fire Ex-situ conservation and re-introduction, and establishment of a protected area
Actinote zikani butterfly Unknown, one population remaining Habitat degradation due to pressure from human populations Protection of habitat and Mikania obsoleta (host plant)
Aipysurus foliosquama Leaf scaled sea-snake sea-snake Unknown, two subpopulations remain Unknown – likely degradation of coral reef habitat Evaluate reasons for population decline and formulate appropriate management plans
Amanipodagrion gilliesi Amani Flatwing butterfly <500 individuals est. Habitat degradation due to increasing population pressure and water pollution Habitat protection
Antilophia bokermanni Araripe Manakin bird 779 individuals (est 2010) abitat destruction due to expansion of agriculture and recreational facilities and water diversion Formal protection of remaining habitat and protection of springs and streams
Antisolabis seychellensis Seychelles earwig earwig Unknown (declining) Invasive species and climate change Habitat management to prevent further invasion by introduced plants
Aphanius transgrediens freshwater fish Unknown (declining) Competition and predation by Gambusia and road construction Raise awareness in national conservation groups and governments, monitor and conserve current springs, develop action plan for lost springs and maintain captive populations
Aproteles bulmerae Bulmer’s Fruit Bat bat 150 individuals (est) Hunting and cave disturbance Protection of Luplupwintern cave and enforced prohibition of hunting
Ardea insignis White bellied heron bird 70-400 individuals Habitat destruction and degradation due to hydropower development Develop captive rearing and release program, eliminate adverse uses of riverine habitat, and mitigate effects of hydroelectric development
Ardeotis nigriceps Great Indian Bustard bird 50 -249 mature individuals Habitat loss and modification due to agricultural development Establishment of protected areas and community reserves, and realignment of Indira Ghandi Nahar Canal Project
Astrochelys yniphora Ploughshare tortoise / angonoka tortoise 440-770 Illegal collection for international pet trade Enforcement of legal protection and protected area management
Atelopus balios Rio pescado stubfoot toad toad Unknown (declining) Chytridiomycosis and habitat destruction due to logging and agricultural expansion Protection of last remaining habitat
Aythya innotata Madagascar Pochard bird approximately 20 mature individuals Habitat degradation due to slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting, and fishing / introduced fish Formal protection of current breeding site, habitat restoration, and development of release programme for captive-bred individuals
Azurina eupalama Galapagos damsel fish pelagic fish Unknown (declining) Climate Change – oceanographic changes associated with the 1982 / 1983 El Nino are presumed to be responsible for the apparent disappearance of this species from the Galapagos Surveys to identify if the species still exists in Los Lobos Islands
Bahaba taipingensis Giant yellow croaker pelagic fish Unknown (declining) Over-fishing, primarily due to value of swim-bladder for traditional medicine – cost per kilogram exceeded that of gold in 2001 Establishment of appropriate protection in Hong Kong and enforcement of legal protection in China
Batagur baska Common Batagur/ Four-toed terrapin turtle Unknown (declining) Illegal export and trade from Indonesia to China Enforcement of CITES Appendix I restrictions and control of illegal trade
Bazzania bhutanica liverwort Unknown (declining) Habitat degradation and destruction due to forest clearance, overgrazing and development Protection of area to prevent future development damaging remaining habitat
Beatragus hunteri Hirola antelope < 1000 individuals Habitat loss and degradation, competition with livestock, poaching Establishment of protected areas and community conservancies, increase in level of management and protection of wild population
Bombus franklini Franklin’s Bumble Bee bee Unknown (declining) Disease from commercially bred bumblebees and habitat destruction and degradation Protection of habitat containing nectar and pollen sources
Brachyteles hypoxanthus Northern muriqui primate < 1,000 individuals Habitat loss and fragmentation due to large-scale deforestation and selective logging Habitat protection and commitment of resources to support the implementation of the national action plan
Bradypus pygmaeus Pygmy sloth sloth <500 individuals Habitat loss due to illegal logging of mangrove forests for firewood and construction and hunting of the sloths Enforcement of protection of the Isla Escudo de Veraguas nature sanctuary and raising awareness
Callitriche pulchra freshwater plant Unknown (declining) Exploitation of the species’ habitat by stock, and modification of the pool by local people Provide alternative water sources for stock, involve local people in the protection of the pool and document remaining water bodies on Gavdos
Calumma tarzan Tarzan’s chameleon chameleon Unknown Habitat destruction for agriculture Support for nascent community conservation initiatives and protection of habitat
Cavia intermedia Santa Catarina’s guinea pig guinea pig 40-60 individuals Habitat disturbance and possible hunting; small population effects Protected area enforcement and regulation of access to the island
Cercopithecus roloway Roloway Guenon primate Unknown hunting for consumption as bushmeat, and habitat loss Protection of habitat from logging and conversion to agricultural land
Coleura seychellensis Seychelles sheath-tailed bat bat <100 mature individuals (est 2008) Habitat degradation and predation by invasive species Removal of invasive vegetation and control of introduced predators, coupled with legal protection of habitat and roosting sites
Cryptomyces maximus fungus Unknown (declining) Limited availability of habitat continue protection of current populations and habitat regeneration projects
Cryptotis nelsoni Nelson’s small-eared shrew shrew Unknown (declining) habitat loss due to logging cattle grazing, fire and agriculture
Cyclura collei Jamaican iguana iguana Unknown (declining) Predation by introduced species and habitat destruction Translocation to predator-free islands and control of deforestation development of legislation that will facilitate the protection of the Ironwood Forests
Dendrophylax fawcettii Cayman islands ghost orchid orchid Unknown (declining) Habitat destruction due to infrastructure development Development of legislation that will facilitate the protection of the Ironwood Forests
Dicerorhinus sumatrensis Sumatran rhino rhino <250 individuals Hunting for horn -used in traditional medicine Expansion and reinforcement of anti-poaching programmes and continuation of captive breeding efforts
Diomedea amsterdamensis Amsterdam Island albatross bird 100 mature individuals disease and incidental capture in long-line fishing operations Prevention of the spread of disease and promotion of best-practice measures in all fisheries within the species range
Diospyros katendei tree 20 individuals, one population High pressure from communities for agricultural activity, illegal tree felling, habitat degradation due to alluvial gold digging and small population Enforcement of legal protection of area, field surveys for further search and ex situ conservation in arboreta / botanic gardens
Dipterocarpus lamellatus dipterocarp (tree) 12 individuals Habitat loss and degradation due to logging of lowland forest and creation of industrial plantations Restoration of Sianggau Forest Reserve and re-introduction of species to previous range
Discoglossus nigriventer Hula painted frog frog Unknown (recent rediscovery in 2011) Predation by birds and range restriction due to habitat destruction restoration of habitat
Discorea strydomiana Wild Yam yam 200 individuals Collection for medicinal use Develop strategy for sustainable use and establish ex situ populations
Dombeya mauritiana flowering plant Unknown (declining) Habitat degradation and destruction due to encroachment by alien invasive plant species and cannabis cultivation Control of invasive plant species, habitat protection and re-introduction of propagated individuals
Elaeocarpus bojeri flowering plant <10 individuals Small population and degraded habitat Unknown – trees are currently being closely monitored to determine level of threat and how these should be addressed
Eleutherodactylus glandulifer La Hotte Glanded Frog frog Unknown (declining) Habitat destruction due to charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture Habitat protection
Eleutherodactylus thorectes Macaya Breast-spot frog frog Unknown Habitat destruction due to charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture Protection of habitat
Eriosyce chilensis Chilenito cactus <500 individuals Collection of flowering individuals Protection of plants through construction of a fence and signage alerting people to threatened status
Erythrina schliebenii coral tree flowering tree < 50 individuals Limited habitat and small population size increasing vulnerability to stochastic events Complete establishment of Forest Reserves and continue propagation efforts, ex situ conservation
Euphorbia tanaensis semi-deciduous tree 4 mature individuals Illegal logging and habitat degradation due to agricultural expansion and infrastructure development Enforcement of legal protection in the Witu Forest Reserve, which has diminished due to civil insecurity
Eurynorhynchus pygmeus Spoon-billed sandpiper bird < 100 breeding pairs Trapping on wintering grounds and land reclamation. Maintenance of critical intertidal staging posts and reducing trapping on wintering grounds.
Ficus katendei tree (ficus) < 50 mature individuals Agricultural activity, illegal tree felling and habitat degradation due to alluvial gold digging ex-situ conservation in arboreta / botanic gardens; enforcement of protection to contain encroachment and habitat degradation; community development programmes in areas adjacent to the reserve
Geronticus eremita Northern Bald Ibis bird 200-249 mature individuals Habitat degradation and destruction, and hunting Protection of key breeding and roosting sites
Gigasiphon macrosiphon flowering tree 33 mature individuals Timber extraction and habitat degradation due to agricultural encroachment and development, seed predation by wild pigs Enforcement of protection in reserves and establishment of management plan to mitigate effects of water loss from hydroelectricity developments
Gocea ohridana mollusc Unknown (declining) Habitat degradation due to increasing pollution levels, off-take of water and sedimentation events Implement transboundary agreements to improve habitat management
Heleophryne rosei Table Mountain ghost frog frog Unknown (declining) Habitat degradation due to invasive plants and water abstraction Protection of habitat, continued implementation of management plans and integration of activities between sites
Hemicycla paeteliana mollusc Unknown (declining) Habitat destruction due to overgrazing and trampling by goats and tourists Conservation of habitat and control of goats, and limiting recreational access to area by tourists
Heteromirafra sidamoensis Liben Lark bird 90- 256 individuals Habitat loss and degradation due to agricultural expansion, over-grazing and fire suppression Restoration of grasslands, including establishing sustainable land management practices, clearing scrub and reinstating fire regime
Hibiscadelphus woodii hibiscus Unknown Habitat degradation due to feral ungulates and invasive introduced plant species Survey the extremely steep terrain for additional individuals. Control of invasive species in the remaining suitable habitat so that species can be reintroduced if more individuals are located
Hucho perryi (Parahucho perryi) Sakhalin taimen salmonid Unknown (declining) Overfishing (sport fishing and commercial bycatch) and habitat loss from damming, agriculture and other land use practices. Expansion of conservation protection in rivers in Russia and Japan and enforcement of fishing regulations
Johora singaporensis Singapore Freshwater Crab crab Unknown Habitat degradation – reduction in water quality and quantity Protection of remaining habitat and establishment of ex-situ populations
Lathyrus belinensis sweet-pea <1,000 (2010 est) Habitat destruction due to urbanisation, over-grazing, conifer planting and road widening Habitat protection, control of grazing, halt conifer planting and periodic sampling for ex situ seed conservation
Leiopelma archeyi Archey’s frog frog unknown but declining Chytridiomycosis and predation by invasive species Continuation of current conservation efforts
Lithobates sevosus Dusky gopher frog frog 60-100 individuals (est 2003) Fungal disease and habitat limitation due to climate change and land-use changes Protection of habitat and management of population to prevent spread of disease
Lophura edwardsi Edward’s pheasant bird Unknown hunting and habitat loss Effective law enforcement, habitat restoration and development of a captive breeding programme
Magnolia wolfii magnolia Unknown (declining) Isolation of species and low regeneration rates Protection of remaining population and exploration of potential for ex-situ conservation
Margaritifera marocana mussel <250 individuals (2010 est) Habitat degradation and disturbance due to pollution and development Habitat protection to mitigate effects of construction of hydroelectricity schemes and agricultural abstraction
Moominia willii mollusc < 500 individuals Invasive species and climate change Protection of habitat and control of invasive species
Natalus primus Cuban greater funnel eared bat bat <100 individuals (est 2005) habitat loss and human disturbance protection of cueva la barca and its surrounds
Nepenthes attenboroughii Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant carnivorous plant Unknown Poaching Creation of a protected area and enforcement of current legal protection
Neurergus kaiseri Luristan newt newt <1000 mature individuals Illegal collection for pet trade Enforcement of protection
Nomascus hainanus Hainan Gibbon primate < 20 individuals hunting gun confiscation in the area of the Bawangling population and habitat protection
Oreocnemis phoenix Mulanje Red Damsel butterfly Unknown (declining) Habitat destruction and degradation due to drainage, agricultural expansion and exploitation of forest Enforcement of habitat protection
Pangasius sanitwongsei Pangasid catfish freshwater fish Unknown (declining) Overfishing and collection for aquarium trade Protection from overfishing and collection
Parides burchellanus butterfly < 100 individuals Habitat degrdation due to pressure from human populations and range restriction Protection of galley forest habitat
Phocoena sinus Vaquita porpoise <200 individuals and declining Incidental capture in gillnets Ban on use of gillnets throughout the species’ range
Picea neoveitchii conifer Unknown (declining) Forest destruction Ex-situ conservation
and re-introduction; establishment of protected areas
Pinus squamata Qiaojia Pine Conifer < 25 mature individuals Limited distribution and small population size Ex-situ conservation and re-introduction; establishment of protected areas
Poecilotheria metallica Peacock Parachute Spider spider Habitat loss and degradation as a result of deforestation, firewood collection and civil unrest Habitat protection, awareness at community level, inclusion in the national Wildlife Protection Act and national and international trade legislation
Pomarea whitneyi Fatuhiva monarch butterfly 50 individuals Predation by introduced species – Rattus rattus and feral cats Increase control of introduced species and consider translocation, either to another island or by creating another, larger controlled area in an accessible part of Fatu Hiva
Pristis pristis Common Sawfish sawfish Unknown (declining) Exploitation – has removed the species from 95% of its historical range Further research required to understand current distribution and threats and ways of managing those
Prolemur simus Greater bamboo lemur primate 100-160 individuals Habitat destruction due to slash-and-burn agriculture, mining and illegal logging Habitat protection and reforestation in the Ivato and Karlanaga regions
Propithecus candidus Silky Sifaka primate 100 -1,000 individuals Hunting and habitat disturbance Continuation and expansion of efforts to end hunting and establishment of protected areas
Psammobates geometricus Geometric tortoise tortoise Unknown Habitat destruction and degradation, and predation Establishment of additional reserves and management of fire regimes
Pseudoryx nghetinhensis Saola saola (bovid affinities) Unknown Hunting and habitat destruction Increase enforcement efforts and habitat protection
Psiadia cataractae flowering plant Unknown Habitat degradation and destruction due to development project and alien invasive plant species Effective protection of the area, continuous and effective control of invasive alien plants particularly grasses and replanting of hardened nursery grown plants
Psorodonotus ebneri Beydaglari Bush-cricket cricket Unknown climate change, habitat loss Development of a bioacoustic monitoring scheme and strategic conservation action plan, establishment of a nature reserve, implementation of habitat management scheme, and research on population size, trends, distribution, and ecology
Rafetus swinhoei Red River giant softshell turtle turtle 4 known individuals Hunting for consumption and habitat destruction and degradation as a result of wetland destruction and pollution Education and awareness programmes, and captive breeding
Rhinoceros sondaicus Javan rhino rhino < 100 individuals Hunting for traditional medicine and small population size Enforcement of protection laws and possible establishment of a captive breeding programme
Rhinopithecus avunculus Tonkin snub-nosed monkey primate < 200 individuals habitat loss and hunting. Known from only a few records in small area of habitat ( less than 10km2), Establishment of a conservation area for Khau Ca Conservation area in Ha Giang province and increase law enforcement to reduce hunting pressure
Rhizanthella gardneri West Australian underground Orchid orchid < 100 individuals Land clearance for agriculture (96% habitat cleared to date), climate change and salinisation In-situ protection of the two supporting organisms and protection of seed stocks and the fungus partner in the seed bank
Rhynchocyon spp. Boni Giant Sengi sengi Unknown (declining) Highly restricted habitat and distribution, security issues, oil development in area with associated increase in human population in area Formal protection of Boni-Dodori forest and finalisation of formal identification
Risiocnemis seidenschwarzi Cebu frill-wing damsel-fly Unknown (declining) Habitat degradation and destruction. Designation of area as ‘Critical Habitat’ – restricting human access to the areas
Rosa arabica flowering tree Unknown (declining) Domestic animals grazing, climate change and drought, medicinal plant collection and restricted range Protection of individuals from exploitation
Salanoia durrelli Durrell’s Vontsira vontsira (small carnivore) Unknown (declining) Habitat loss Improved management for Lake Alaotra protected area
Santamartamys rufodorsalis Red-crested tree rat rat Unknown Habitat loss through urban development and coffee cultivation Surveys to map species range, continued habitat protection at known site of occurence
Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis Red-finned blue eye freshwater fish 2,000 – 4,000 individuals Predation by introduced species Control of the invasive species Gambusia holbrooki, and reintroduction of S.vermeilipinnis
Squatina squatina Angel shark shark Unknown (declining) Benthic trawling Protection of Canary Islands habitat and nearby continental shelf habitats from trawling
Sterna bernsteini Chinese crested tern bird < 50 mature individuals Egg collection and habitat destruction Protect breeding sites, strengthen legal protection status and raise awareness at breeding colonies
Syngnathus watermeyeri Estuarine Pipefish (River Pipefish) pipefish Unknown (declining) Construction of dams altering river flows and flood events into estuaries Establishment of a freshwater ‘reserve’, pollution control and implementation of water use allocations
Tahina spectabilis Suicide Palm palm 90 individuals Habitat loss due to fires, logging and agricultural developments Establishment of a protected area and development of a management plan
Telmatobufo bullocki Bullock’s false toad toad unknown Habita destruction as a result of energy development Halting development of the hydo-electricity scheme and protecting habitat
Tokudaia muenninki Okinawa Spiny Rat rat unknown (declining) Habtiat loss and predation by feral cats Surveys to map species range, protection of remaining habitat and feral cat control programme
Trigonostigma somphongsi Somphongs’s rasbora freshwater fish Unknown (declining) Habitat loss and degradation from farmland conversion and urbanization Wetland restoration
Valencia letourneuxi freshwater fish Unknown (declining) Habitat destruction, water abstraction and agressive interaction with Gambusia Protection of habitat and control of Gambusia
Voanioala gerardii Forest Coconut palm < 10 individuals Harvesting for consumption of palm heart and deforestation Protection of individuals and habitat coupled with public awareness campaigns
Zaglossus attenboroughi Attenborough’s Echidna echidna Unknown Habitat modification and degradation due to logging, agricultural encroachment shifting cultivation and hunting by local people Enhance awareness and cultural significance of the species and establish sustainable management practices and conduct additional surveys


Quite unbelievable…don’t you think?
by David Livingstone

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