Only described in 2010, its unknown how many Durrell’s vontsiras (Salanoia durrelli) survive. Photo by: Ian Vernon and Tim Hounsome with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
From the Baishan fir (five left in the world) to the Sumatran rhino (around 250), a new report highlights the world’s top 100 most endangered species, according to the the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The list spans the taxonomic gamut, from fungi (Cryptomyces maximus) to amphibians (the Table Mountain ghost frog) to flowers (the Cayman Islands ghost orchid) and much more (see full list at the end of the article).
“The species featured here represent the 100 most critically endangered species in the world,” announces the report. “If we don’t rapidly increase the amount of conservation attention that they receive they may soon be lost forever.”
Listed in alphabetical order, the report represents the best knowledge available on endangered species. While scientists to date have described nearly 2 million species on Earth, most believe several million (and perhaps tens-of-millions) remain undiscovered. In addition, scientists generally have far more data on the populations and threats facing vertebrate species, such as mammals and amphibians, than they do of insects, plants, and fungi. Still, these 100 near-extinct species highlights the increasing global biodiversity crisis, which could result in a mass extinction with untold consequences for the world’s ecosystems.
“All the species listed are unique and irreplaceable,” co-author Ellen Butcher with ZSL said in a statement. “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.”
While a few of these species have seen targeted conservation efforts, such as the Sumatran rhino and the saola, many lack any conservation efforts.
“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 prioritized 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,” says ZSL’s Director of Conservation, Jonathan Baillie, and co-author of the report.
The report also highlights that targeted conservation efforts in the past has had numerous successes in keeping species from vanishing for good, such as Prezwalski’s horse, the humpback whale, and the black robin. Still the general trend outlined by scientists is a global decline in biodiversity.
“Society is at a point in history where a decision needs to be made,” Baillie writes in the report. “Do these species have the right to exist?”
Less than 250 great Indian bustards (Ardeotis nigriceps) survive. Photo by: Rahul Sachdev.
Less than 800 Araripe manakins (Antilophia bokermanni) survive. Photo by: Ciro Albano.
This fungus, Cryptomyces maximus, is facing extinction. Photo by: David Harries.
Archey’s frog (Leiopelma archeyii), native to New Zealand, is in big trouble. Photo by: New Zealand Department of Conservation.
Amsterdam Island albatross (Diomedea-amsterdamensis), is down to only 100 birds. Albatrosses are among the world’s most endangered birds. Photo by: Eric van der Vlist.
About 250 Sumatran rhinos (Diceros sumatrensis) survive in a few different populations. Photo by: Save the Rhino International.
Santa Catarina’s guinea pig (Cavia intermedia) is down to about 40-60 animals. Photo by: Luciano Candisani.
The geometric tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) has lost almost all of its habitat in South Africa. Photo by: Erik Baard.
The Okinawa spiny rat (Tokudaia muenninki) is only found on the Japanese Island of Okinawa. Already, Japan has lost several of its endemic mammals. Photo by: Norihiro Kawauchi.
The Table Mountain ghost frog (Heleophryne rosei) is only found on a single mountain in South Africa. Photo by: Atherton de Villiers.
The red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis) was discovered last year in Colombia after missing for over a century. Photo by: Lizzie Noble/Pro Aves.