Maps of the rare and unusual

By JW Dowey - 18 May 2013 12:0:0 GMT
Maps of the rare and unusual

This Madagascan native, Varecia variegata, is the largest, extant lemur and critically endangered. The species has lost almost all of its forests and they really need protection from exploitation for logging and agricultural use; Lemur Image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is one of the oldest and most prominent conservationists ever. They are highly qualified to map uniqueness among fauna such as mammals and amphibian, and I'm sure they could equally well handle the rest of the animals! EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) species occur in certain areas, many of which are unprotected. The Society has published a paper in PloS ONE in an attempt to educate and enlighten with interactive maps that should inspire and attract.

That very action will hopefully lead to extra provision of land in at least some countries. For some of these creatures simple wetland preservation or a vital forest corridor will help them hang on in the wild. For these two vertebrate Classes at least, the provision will need to be different. Mammals need management in SE Asia, southern Africa and of course, Madagascar. Priorities for the Class Amphibia include Central and South America.

Jonathan Baillie is ZSL's Director of Conservation. He has come to the conclusion that, "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."

Pangolin image

Manis javanica here is the Sunda pangolin which is hunted for its scales that the Chinese believe have medicinal properties. Same old problem as with the rhino horns and all the other ancient stories! ;Pangolin image; Credit: © Shutterstock

His results are very alarming to us. While 15% of the amphibian areas are protected, incredibly, only 5% of the mammal areas are. The rate of extinction of frogs and other amphibians makes them a huge priority, however.

Kamran Safi, at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology is the lead author of the backing scientific paper. His take on the need for such identification is that, "this is the first global map to take into account species' uniqueness as well as threat." He now hopes the EDGE programmes will extend beyond the 40 spp. they have launched conservation projects in the past.

The EDGE map is here via:, you click on any country and can choose Mammal or Amphibian, and even Coral species. Any further notes of our own on conservation can be found very recently in our extensive "archives" on bears, kiwis, tigers and many other species!

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Topics: Amphibians / Mammals