Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

103,879 subscribers and counting ...

By in
| Earth on Sep 12, 2012

100 most threatened species

Conservation experts have released a list of the 100 most threatened species of animals, plants and fungi on Earth.

Conservation experts have released a list of the 100 most threatened species of animals, plants and fungi on Earth.

The list, compiled by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in a report titled “Priceless or Worthless?” identifies the 100 animals species deemed first in line for extinction. The ZSL report was released at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea in September, 2012.

Sumatran rhino. Photo credit: Save the Rhino International

Conservationists fear those species included in the list – from 49 different countries – will be allowed to die out because they provide humans with no obvious benefits. Co-author of the report, ZSL’s Ellen Butcher said:

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.

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. They said that conservation actions have delivered results with many species such as Przewalski’s horse and the humpback whale, which have been saved from extinction.

The pygmy three-toed sloth is one of the animals facing a bleak future. Escudo Island, 17 kilometers 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.

Geometric tortoise. Photo credit: ZSL/Copyright Erik Baard

Similarly, the saola 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 is found. Populations of the spore-shooting fungi are currently in decline, and a single catastrophic event could cause their total destruction.

See the complete list.

Bottom line: In September, 2012, conservation experts at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) released a list of the 100 most threatened species of animals, plants and fungi on Earth.