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The Ark Is Burning

by melvin Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 10:14:58 AM EST

(Crossposted at DailyKos)

From BBC News:

Extinction alert for 800 species

By Richard Black

Environment Correspondent, BBC News website

Researchers have compiled a global map of sites where animals and plants face imminent extinction.

The list, drawn up by a coalition of conservation groups, covers almost 800 species which they say will disappear soon unless urgent measures are taken.

Most of the 800 are now found only in one location, mainly in the tropics.

Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say protecting some of these sites would cost under $1,000 per year.

Download the PNAS report here. It is excellent. Supporting material is also available.

One thousand dollars per year


From the PNAS abstract:

Pinpointing and preventing imminent extinctions

Within five globally assessed taxa (i.e., mammals, birds, selected reptiles, amphibians, and conifers), we find 794 such species, three times the number recorded as having gone extinct since 1500.

Only one-third of the sites are legally protected, and most are surrounded by intense human development. These sites represent clear opportunities for urgent conservation action to prevent species loss.

One thing I like very much about this report is that it references successful efforts similar to those required now:

Although the species we identify here require immediate attention and may often prove difficult to conserve, their recovery is with reach. Indeed, several species that would have met all three of our criteria in the past are now recovering due to successful conservation and are no longer eligible.

The criteria referenced:

BBC, continued:

The list of organisations behind the study reads like a Who's Who of the conservation world, with the Zoological Society of London, Conservation International, and the American Bird Conservancy among 13 groups involved.

They come together under the umbrella of a relatively new organisation, the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), whose aim is exactly what the name implies.

From their databases they have drawn up a list of 595 sites which contain at least one species classified as "endangered" or "critically endangered" according to criteria laid down in the Red List of threatened organisms.

       Carolina Parakeet

Members of the Alliance for Zero Extinction:

American Bird Conservancy. Contact: Mike Parr, Vice President, 202 234-7181 x 204   mparrabcbirds.org

American Museum of Natural History. Contact: Robin Lloyd, Science Publicist, 212    496-3419, lloyd@amnh.org

American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Contact: Jane Ballentine, Director of Public    Affairs, 301 562-0777 x252, jballentine@aza.org

Asociación Armoní

de Conservación de los Ecosistemas Andinos Another for ECOAN

Association "Les Amis des Oiseaux"

Asociacion Naymlap

BirdLife International. Contact: Ed Parnell, Communications Officer, UK, +44 1223 277

   318, ed.parnell@birdlife.org; or Richard Thomas,

Communications Officer, UK, +44

   1223 277 318, email: richard.thomas@birdlife.org

Charles Darwin Foundation


Conservation Breeding Specialist Group

Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES)

Conservation International. Contact: Tom Cohen, Media Relations Director, (202)

    912-1532, t.cohen@conservation.org

Corporación Ornitológica del Ecuador

Doga Dernegi - Turkey

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust


Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

Fauna and Flora International

Forest Partners International

Fundación Jocotoco

Fundación ProAves

Guyra Paraguay]

Hawai`i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. Contact: Christina Simmons,

   Associate Director, Public Relations, Zoological Society of San Diego, (619) 685-3291

Instituto Ecologia Applicata

International Iguana Foundation

Island Conservation and Ecology Group

Island Endemics

IUCN Iguana Specialist Group

Kutilang Indonesia Foundation

Loro Parque Fundación

Lubee Bat Conservancy. Contact: Dr. Allyson Walsh, Director, +01 352 485 1250,


Mindo Cloudforest Foundation

Missouri Botanical Garden

National Audubon Society. Contact: Erica Barton, Media Manager, 212-979-3197,


Nature Protection Trust of the Seychelles. Contact: Dr. Justin Gerlach, Scientific

    Co-ordinator, +44 1223 246875, jstgerlach@aol.com,

NatureServe: Rob Riordan, Director of Marketing and Communications, 703-908-1831,


NOÊ Conservation

North of England Zoological Society - Chester Zoo


Sahara Conservation Fund

Saint Louis Zoo's WildCare Institute

Société Audubon Haiti!

The Nature Conservancy

Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS)

Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Development Assn of Ethiopia.

   Contact: Zelealem Tefera, Excutive Director, +251-911-406483,

Wildlife Conservation Society]

Wildlife Trust]

World Parks

World Parrot Trust

World Pheasant Association

World Wildlife Fund US. Contact: Tom Lalley, 202-778-9544, tom.lalley@wwfus.org

Zoo Outreach Organization

From the final paragraph of the PNAS report:

The species identified here are only a fraction of those at risk from intensifying human activities. Available data limited our analyses to five taxonomic groups, and more trigger species (particularly freshwater species, terrestrial invertebrates, and plants) will be identified as knowledge improves.



Nonetheless, the sites we identify are a critical subset of global conservation priorities, complementing other efforts by focusing on relatively small scales and short time horizons: They are known places where extinctions are imminent unless immediate conservation action is taken

The PNAS report, and AZE's efforts, seem at the moment concentrated heavily on "charismatic" species: gorgeous birds, cuddly mammals, stately conifers. The situation looks considerably more dire when the view broadens to include invertebrates and less glamorous plant life. Morality, nostalgia, aesthetics, awed appreciation for the beauty all around us (created by God, according to some): set all these aside, and consider the example of AZT, found in herring sperm of all places, as we contemplate what we are throwing away unexamined.

   Pacific Herring


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