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BROCHURE RACK

The world's 100 most threatened species - Are they priceless or worthless?

13/09/2012 10:05:59
misc/2012/Poecilotheria_metallica_Molur

Peacock parachute spider, Poecilotheria metallica Copyright Sanjay Molur_WILD_ZOO

What is a species worth?

September 2012. Tarzan's chameleon, the spoon-billed sandpiper and the pygmy three-toed sloth have all topped a new list of the species closest to extinction released by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

For the first time ever, more than 8,000 scientists from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) have come together to identify 100 of the most threatened animals, plants and fungi on the planet. But conservationists fear they'll be allowed to die out because none of these species provide humans with obvious benefits.

Difficult conservation
Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL's Director of Conservation explains: "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?"

Priceless or Worthless
The report, called Priceless or Worthless?, will be presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in South Korea this month (Tues 11th Sept), and hopes to push the conservation of 'worthless' creatures up the agenda that is set by NGOs from around the globe.

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."

Decline often caused by humans
Their declines have mainly been caused by humans, but in almost all cases scientists believe their extinction can still be avoided if conservation efforts are specifically focused. Conservation actions deliver results with many species such as Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus) and Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) have being saved from extinction.

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

Pygmy three-toed sloth
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.

Saola - Pseudoryx nghetinhensis - Very little is known about this enigmatic antelope. Copyright Toon Fey WWF

Saola - Pseudoryx nghetinhensis - Very little is known about this enigmatic antelope. Copyright Toon Fey WWF

Saola
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.

Willow blister
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 adds: "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.

"All species have a value to nature and thus in turn to humans," says Dr Simon Stuart, Chair IUCN Species Survival Commission. "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." 

List of the 100 most threatened species 

Scientific Name

Common Name

Category

Population

Threats to Survival

Abies beshanzuensis

Baishan Fir

Conifer

5 mature individuals

Agricultural expansion and fire

Actinote zikani

 

butterfly

Unknown, one population remaining

Habitat degradation due to pressure from human populations

Aipysurus foliosquama

Leaf scaled sea-snake

sea-snake

Unknown, two subpopulations remain

Unknown - likely degradation of coral reef habitat

Amanipodagrion gilliesi

Amani Flatwing

butterfly

<500 individuals est.

Habitat degradation due to increasing population pressure and water pollution

Antilophia bokermanni

Araripe Manakin

bird

779 individuals (est 2010)

abitat destruction due to expansion of agriculture and recreational facilities and water diversion

Antisolabis seychellensis

Seychelles earwig

earwig

Unknown (declining)

Invasive species and climate change

Aphanius transgrediens

 

freshwater fish

Unknown (declining)

Competition and predation by Gambusia and road construction

Aproteles bulmerae

Bulmer's Fruit Bat

bat

150 individuals (est)

Hunting and cave disturbance

Ardea insignis

White bellied heron

bird

70-400 individuals

Habitat destruction and degradation due to hydropower development

Ardeotis nigriceps

Great Indian Bustard

bird

50 -249 mature individuals

Habitat loss and modification due to agricultural development

Astrochelys yniphora

Ploughshare tortoise / angonoka

tortoise

440-770

Illegal collection for international pet trade

Atelopus balios

Rio pescado stubfoot toad

toad

Unknown (declining)

Chytridiomycosis and habitat destruction due to logging and agricultural expansion

Aythya innotata

Madagascar Pochard

bird

approximately 20 mature individuals

Habitat degradation due to slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting, and fishing / introduced fish

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

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

Batagur baska

Common Batagur/ Four-toed terrapin

turtle

Unknown (declining)

Illegal export and trade from Indonesia to China

Bazzania bhutanica

 

liverwort

Unknown (declining)

Habitat degradation and destruction due to forest clearance, overgrazing and development

Beatragus hunteri

Hirola

antelope

< 1000 individuals

 Habitat loss and degradation, competition with livestock, poaching

Bombus franklini

Franklin's Bumble Bee

bee

Unknown (declining)

Disease from commercially bred bumblebees and habitat destruction and degradation

Brachyteles hypoxanthus

Northern muriqui

primate

< 1,000 individuals

Habitat loss and fragmentation due to large-scale deforestation and selective logging

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

Callitriche pulchra

 

freshwater plant

Unknown (declining)

Exploitation of the species' habitat by stock, and modification of the pool by local people

Calumma tarzan

Tarzan's chameleon

chameleon

Unknown

Habitat destruction for agriculture

Cavia intermedia

Santa Catarina's guinea pig

guinea pig

40-60 individuals

Habitat disturbance and possible hunting; small population effects

Cercopithecus roloway

Roloway Guenon

primate

Unknown

hunting for consumption as bushmeat, and habitat loss

Coleura seychellensis

Seychelles sheath-tailed bat

bat

<100 mature individuals (est 2008)

Habitat degradation and predation by invasive species

Cryptomyces maximus

 

fungus

Unknown (declining)

Limited availability of habitat

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

Dendrophylax fawcettii

Cayman islands ghost orchid

orchid

Unknown (declining)

Habitat destruction due to infrastructure development

Dicerorhinus sumatrensis

Sumatran rhino

rhino

<250 individuals

Hunting for horn -used in traditional medicine

Diomedea amsterdamensis

Amsterdam Island albatross

bird

100 mature individuals

disease and incidental capture in long-line fishing operations

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

Dipterocarpus lamellatus

 

dipterocarp (tree)

12 individuals

Habitat loss and degradation due to logging of lowland forest and creation of industrial plantations

Discoglossus nigriventer

Hula painted frog

frog

Unknown (recent rediscovery in 2011)

Predation by birds and range restriction due to habitat destruction

Discorea strydomiana

Wild Yam

yam

200 individuals

Collection for medicinal use

Dombeya mauritiana

 

flowering plant

Unknown (declining)

Habitat degradation and destruction due to encroachment by alien invasive plant species and cannabis cultivation

Elaeocarpus bojeri

 

flowering plant

<10 individuals

Small population and degraded habitat

Eleutherodactylus glandulifer

La Hotte Glanded Frog

frog

Unknown (declining)

Habitat destruction due to charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture

Eleutherodactylus thorectes

Macaya Breast-spot frog

frog

Unknown

Habitat destruction due to charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture

Eriosyce chilensis

Chilenito

cactus

<500 individuals

Collection of flowering individuals

Erythrina schliebenii

coral tree

flowering tree

< 50 individuals

Limited habitat and small population size increasing vulnerability to stochastic events

Euphorbia tanaensis

 

semi-deciduous tree

4 mature individuals

Illegal logging and habitat degradation due to agricultural expansion and infrastructure development

Eurynorhynchus pygmeus

Spoon-billed sandpiper

bird

< 100 breeding pairs

Trapping on wintering grounds and land reclamation.

Ficus katendei

 

tree (ficus)

< 50 mature individuals

 Agricultural activity, illegal tree felling and habitat degradation due to alluvial gold digging

Geronticus eremita

Northern Bald Ibis

bird

200-249 mature individuals

Habitat degradation and destruction, and hunting

Gigasiphon macrosiphon

 

flowering tree

33 mature individuals

 Timber extraction and habitat degradation due to agricultural encroachment and development, seed predation by wild pigs

Gocea ohridana

 

mollusc

Unknown (declining)

Habitat degradation due to increasing pollution levels, off-take of water and sedimentation events

Heleophryne rosei

Table Mountain ghost frog

frog

Unknown (declining)

Habitat degradation due to invasive plants and water abstraction

Hemicycla paeteliana

 

mollusc

Unknown (declining)

Habitat destruction due to overgrazing and trampling by goats and tourists

Heteromirafra sidamoensis

Liben Lark

bird

90- 256 individuals

Habitat loss and degradation due to agricultural expansion, over-grazing and fire suppression

Hibiscadelphus woodii

 

hibiscus

Unknown

Habitat degradation due to feral ungulates and invasive introduced plant species

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.

Johora singaporensis

Singapore Freshwater Crab

crab

Unknown

Habitat degradation - reduction in water quality and quantity

Lathyrus belinensis

 

sweet-pea

<1,000 (2010 est)

Habitat destruction due to urbanisation, over-grazing, conifer planting and road widening

Leiopelma archeyi

Archey's frog

frog

unknown but declining

Chytridiomycosis and predation by invasive species

Lithobates sevosus

Dusky gopher frog

frog

60-100 individuals (est 2003)

Fungal disease and habitat limitation due to climate change and land-use changes

Lophura edwardsi

Edward's pheasant

bird

Unknown

hunting and habitat loss

Magnolia wolfii

 

magnolia

Unknown (declining)

 Isolation of species and low regeneration rates

Margaritifera marocana

 

mussel

<250 individuals (2010 est)

Habitat degradation and disturbance due to pollution and development

Moominia willii

 

mollusc

< 500 individuals

 Invasive species and climate change

Natalus primus

Cuban greater funnel eared bat

bat

<100 individuals (est 2005)

habitat loss and human disturbance

Nepenthes attenboroughii

Attenborough's Pitcher Plant

carnivorous plant

Unknown

Poaching

Neurergus kaiseri

Luristan newt

newt

<1000 mature individuals

Illegal collection for pet trade

Nomascus hainanus

Hainan Gibbon

primate

< 20 individuals

hunting

Oreocnemis phoenix

Mulanje Red Damsel

butterfly

Unknown (declining)

Habitat destruction and degradation due to drainage, agricultural expansion and exploitation of forest

Pangasius sanitwongsei

Pangasid catfish

freshwater fish

Unknown (declining)

Overfishing and collection for aquarium trade

Parides burchellanus

 

butterfly

< 100 individuals

Habitat degrdation due to pressure from human populations and range restriction

Phocoena sinus

Vaquita

porpoise

<200 individuals and declining

Incidental capture in gillnets

Picea neoveitchii

 

conifer

Unknown (declining)

Forest destruction 

Pinus squamata

Qiaojia Pine

Conifer

< 25 mature individuals

Limited distribution and small population size

Poecilotheria metallica

Peacock Parachute Spider

spider

 

Habitat loss and degradation as a result of deforestation, firewood collection and civil unrest

Pomarea whitneyi

Fatuhiva monarch

butterfly

50 individuals

Predation by introduced species - Rattus rattus and feral cats

Pristis pristis

Common Sawfish

sawfish

Unknown (declining)

Exploitation - has removed the species from 95% of its historical range

Prolemur simus

Greater bamboo lemur

primate

100-160 individuals

Habitat destruction due to slash-and-burn agriculture, mining and illegal logging

Propithecus candidus

Silky Sifaka

primate

100 -1,000 individuals

Hunting and habitat disturbance

Psammobates geometricus

Geometric tortoise

tortoise

Unknown

Habitat destruction and degradation, and predation

Pseudoryx nghetinhensis

Saola

saola (bovid affinities)

Unknown

Hunting and habitat destruction

Psiadia cataractae

 

flowering plant

Unknown

Habitat degradation and destruction due to development project and alien invasive plant species

Psorodonotus ebneri

Beydaglari Bush-cricket

cricket

Unknown

climate change, habitat loss

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

Rhinoceros sondaicus

Javan rhino

rhino

< 100 individuals

Hunting for traditional medicine and small population size

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),

Rhizanthella gardneri

West Australian underground Orchid

orchid

< 100 individuals

Land clearance for agriculture (96% habitat cleared to date), climate change and salinisation

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

Risiocnemis seidenschwarzi

Cebu frill-wing

damsel-fly

Unknown (declining)

Habitat degradation and destruction.

Rosa arabica

 

flowering tree

Unknown (declining)

Domestic animals grazing, climate change and drought, medicinal plant collection and restricted range

Salanoia durrelli

Durrell's Vontsira

vontsira (small carnivore)

Unknown (declining)

Habitat loss

Santamartamys rufodorsalis

Red-crested tree rat

rat

Unknown

Habitat loss through urban development and coffee cultivation

Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis

Red-finned blue eye

freshwater fish

2,000 - 4,000 individuals

Predation by introduced species

Squatina squatina

Angel shark

shark

Unknown (declining)

Benthic trawling

Sterna bernsteini

Chinese crested tern

bird

< 50 mature individuals

Egg collection and habitat destruction

Syngnathus watermeyeri

Estuarine Pipefish (River Pipefish)

pipefish

Unknown (declining)

Construction of dams altering river flows and flood events into estuaries

Tahina spectabilis

Suicide Palm

palm

90 individuals

Habitat loss due to fires, logging and agricultural developments

Telmatobufo bullocki

Bullock's false toad

toad

unknown

Habita destruction as a result of energy development

Tokudaia muenninki

Okinawa Spiny Rat

rat

unknown (declining)

Habtiat loss and predation by feral cats

Trigonostigma somphongsi

Somphongs's rasbora

freshwater fish

Unknown (declining)

Habitat loss and degradation from farmland conversion and urbanization

Valencia letourneuxi

 

freshwater fish

Unknown (declining)

Habitat destruction, water abstraction and agressive interaction with Gambusia

Voanioala gerardii

Forest Coconut

palm

< 10 individuals

Harvesting for consumption of palm heart and deforestation

Zaglossus attenboroughi

Attenborough's Echidna

echidna

Unknown

Habitat modification and degradation due to logging, agricultural encroachment shifting cultivation and hunting by local people

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