The 100 most endangered species
September 12, 2012 3:22 PM   Subscribe

"Priceless or Worthless?" is a handsomely photographed report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature identifying the 100 most endangered animals, plants, and fungi (9 MB PDF) on the planet and what needs to be done to save them.

BBC News articles on the struggle to preserve the ploughshare tortoise, spoon-billed sandpiper, Singapore freshwater crab, and Javan rhino.
posted by Egg Shen (11 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
And as a reminder of the stakes: Martha, the last passenger pigeon
posted by Egg Shen at 3:23 PM on September 12, 2012

Another reminder: "Orange Band", the last Dusky Seaside Sparrow.

I actually saw Orange Band as a child at Disney World's Discovery Island. I also remember, very vividly, seeing his cage left as it was, years later, empty and overgrown. Even as a child under 10, it gave me chills.
posted by strixus at 5:16 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would buy a copy of this.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:18 PM on September 12, 2012

While I wait for the large pdf to open, I can think of four animal species in my jurisdiction that are down to the last small number of individuals, a few hundred or less (brush-tailed rock wallaby, orange-bellied parrot, mountain pygmy possum, helmeted honey-eater, leadbeaters possum, actually now I think of it that's five and I could go on...). All are, for all intents and purposes, completely fucked. This is in a developed country that doesn't have major social issues about this, and has relatively strong and clear laws.

So there's a very real and very important debate going on about whether we're squandering very scarce capital trying to resuscitate inevitably doomed species when we really should shift our priorities to climate adaptation research, particularly for currently vulnerable species with limited temperature ranges and ability to move through the landscape. I have come to the view that yes, triage is all that we can sensibly do.

So I disagree with the report, I think it's wishful thinking. It raises expectations that are guaranteed to be dashed on the rocks of reality. On page 101 it says:
No species need be lost. Given enough
determination and ingenuity we are capable
of rescuing even the most desperate of
cases, as the stories here show.
To which I say bullshit, and would you like to bet on it? It doesn't make me happy to say that, and I'm not trying to be a smartarse, it's a desperate situation.
posted by wilful at 7:31 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Doesn't it make you sad that a topic as fundamentally important as this can receive little or no attention from the smart, savvy and opinionated corpus of mefites, while (for example) a trivial but trivially interesting "science" story about the ability to taste coriander receives twenty times the attention (which is not to have a go at anyone personally). If this group of internet strangers can't muster up any outrage, who thinks our politicians are going to do anything about this?
posted by wilful at 8:54 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

We cannot improve our relationship with the rest of nature without changing our way of understanding nature. As long as we hold to a doctrine of biology that asserts the primacy of competition, we will continue to cavalierly exterminate other life-forms.
posted by No Robots at 9:19 PM on September 12, 2012

Is any species on that list for any reason other than that it is unfortunate enough to share a planet with us?
posted by pracowity at 11:49 PM on September 12, 2012

1. doesn't showing this in full form violate copyright?
2. in order for them to survive, humans must die.
posted by stormpooper at 6:23 AM on September 13, 2012

1. doesn't showing this in full form violate copyright?

That's a link to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the people who published the PDF (it says "ZSL" on the cover), so I don't see how it could be a copyright violation.

2. in order for them to survive, humans must die.

Die? Or just stop expanding so much? You don't need to turn everything into houses and lawns and roads. Build up before you build out. Suburbs need to go vertical. Think about expanding horizontally after you've gone 10 or 20 floors up.

But I don't know how to convince idiots not to use bits of tiger and rhino for voodoo disguised as medicine. Replace real rhino horns with plastic ones? Swamp the market with faux rhino horn so the price of the real thing crashes? It doesn't look like education helps; look at the popularity of groundless traditional treatments in developed, well-educated countries. Rhinos are vanishing for the same reason homeopathy still exists.
posted by pracowity at 7:35 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If this group of internet strangers can't muster up any outrage, who thinks our politicians are going to do anything about this?

It's sad. I imagine some people stay out of threads like these to avoid feeling guilty or called to action. And then there are plenty who stay out because they simply don't care.

I read through the entire linked document yesterday yet I didn't comment here. If I had, it probably would have been something like what many people put in the ubiquitous obituary threads.

posted by morganannie at 8:32 AM on September 13, 2012

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