Today scientists published a list of the world's 100 most endangered species. The list, the first of its kind, was published by the World Conservation Congress in South Korea.
The report includes many obscure species, such as the Ploughshare Tortoise and the Pygmy three toed sloth. The only thing all these species share in common is that their continued existence is threatened by human activities, such as habitat destruction, pollution and hunting.
The scientists have drawn up the list in order to challenge conventional thinking on conservation. The list is headed with the question: "Priceless or Worthless?" The authors see current conservation efforts as being exclusively focused on iconic species, such as tigers and polar bears and species that are seen as being of value to human beings, such as the hoodia cactus, which may have medicinal uses.
Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London, which compiled the list along with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, argues this dilemma reflects serious problems with the way conservation is funded today. This can clearly be seen in the fact that the species most associated with conservation do not appear in the report's list. As the Guardian reports, he said:
The donor community and conservation movement are increasingly leaning towards a 'what can nature do for us?' approach, where species and wild habitats are valued and prioritised according to these services they provided for people. This has made it increasingly difficult for conservationists to protect the most threatened species on the planet.
Professor Baillie argues that we are confronted with a moral decision. TG Daily reports him posing the rhetorical question:
Do these species have a right to survive or do we have a right to drive them to extinction?
The report is implicitly highly critically of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that drive the conservation agenda. According to IOL SciTech, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said the report
...hopes to push the conservation of 'worthless' creatures up the agenda that is set by NGOs from around the globe.
The IUCN added that creatures such as lions or pandas get much more attention than newts.
The report calls on governments to provide funding in the billions to prevent species extinctions. It also calls for hunting bans and expansion of protected areas.