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World's rarest and most extraordinary species mapped for the first time

16/05/2013 10:45:23
world/edge_Sunda_pangolin_Carnivore_and_Pangolin_Conservation_Programme

Sunda pangolin occurs in Southeast Asia and is threatened by illegal poaching for its meat and for its scales – Used in traditional medicine. Courtesy of Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme

EDGE species added to the map
May 2013. The black-and-white ruffed lemur, Mexican salamander and Sunda pangolin all feature on the first map of the world's most unique and threatened mammals and amphibians, created by the Zoological Society of London(ZSL).

Scientists pinpointed areas of the world where Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) mammals and amphibians occur. Regions containing the highest concentrations of these species are highlighted as global conservation priorities.

Different regions for different groups
The map reveals that high priority conservation areas for mammals and amphibians are different, reflecting the varied evolutionary histories and threats facing the two groups. For mammals, management efforts are best focused in Southeast Asia, southern Africa and Madagascar. For amphibians, Central and southern America are highlighted as priorities.

Very few protected areas
Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL's Director of Conservation says: "The results of the mapping exercise are alarming. Currently only five percent of the areas we've identified as priorities for EDGE mammals and 15 percent of the EDGE amphibian areas are protected.

"These areas highlighted should all be global conservation priorities because they contain species that are not only highly threatened but also unique in the way they look, live and behave. These new maps will inform the development of larger-scale work to help secure the future of some of the most remarkable species on Earth," Professor Baillie added.

The Mexican salamander, or axolotl, is critically endangered due to urbanization, polluted waters, and the introduction of non-native fish which eat the axolotl’s young.  Scroll down to see the map of EDGE amphibians.

The Mexican salamander, or axolotl, is critically endangered due to urbanization, polluted waters, and the introduction of non-native fish which eat the axolotl’s young. Scroll down to see the map of EDGE amphibians.

Black-and-white ruffed lemur & Sunda pangolin
Madagascar's black-and-white ruffed lemur is the largest lemur in the world and is threatened by hunting and the loss of its forest habitat to logging, mining and cutting and burning for agriculture. The Sunda pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater, occurs in Southeast Asia and is threatened by illegal poaching for its meat which is a culinary delicacy, as well as its scales which are thought to have high medicinal value. Other mammal species occurring in priority areas include the black rhino and western lowland gorilla.

Amphibians
Amphibians are facing a terrifying rate of extinction making them the most threatened vertebrates in the world. The Mexican salamander, or axolotl, is critically endangered due to urbanization, polluted waters, and the introduction of non-native fish which eat the axolotl's young. With the aid of the global map of EDGE amphibians, it will now be possible to concentrate efforts in countries such as, Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala where the most distinct and threatened species are found.

Dr. Kamran Safi, lead author of the paper from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology says: "This is the first global map to take into account species' uniqueness as well as threat. Now that we've identified EDGE priority areas for mammals and amphibians we can more effectively continue to ensure their protection."

It is critical that conservationists prioritise the allocation of limited resources for the best conservation outcomes. ZSL's EDGE of Existence programme has already launched targeted conservation projects for more than 40 EDGE species around the world.

The research paper is published in PLOS ONE.

 

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

What about the other 95%?

Does EDGE only focus on mammals and amphibians? What about the most speciose taxa on earth? Where are the beetles - Hadramphus tuberculatus, with fewer than 70 individuals left? Where are the spiders? Do we only care about the sexy and cuddly animals? Get a grip on reality, people! How we feel about a species has nothing whatsoever to do with its importance in an ecosystem. By all means conserve the mammals and amphibians, but don't act like this covers more than a tiny percentage of known taxa. These are by no means the "world's rarest and most extraordinary species".

Posted by: Vikki | 17 May 2013 14:01:35

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