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Interactive Map Showcases Amazing (And Endangered) Species Around The World
May 16, 2013
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edge-map-lemur.jpg
(Photo: Getty)

Look at those eyes: this is a black-and-white ruffed lemur. It's the largest species of lemur in the world, and it lives on the island of Madagascar.

It's also an endangered species - under threat from hunting, as well as damage to its forest habitat caused by logging, mining and cutting and burning for agriculture.

In addition to being at risk, the lemur is part of a large group of endangered species that are considered "evolutionarily distinct": they represent a piece of unique evolutionary history that will be lost if they disappear forever.

According to scientists, these species' habitats must be protected if they are to survive. But very few of the areas critical to their conservation are protected.

That reality is highlighted in a new interactive map (click through to see the full version).

edge-map-endangered.jpg

The map offers an in-depth look at which unique and endangered species live where, and it shows the hotspots where endangered species are most at risk.

You can mouse over Canada, for example, and bring up a full list of EDGE species living in this country.

The map was created by a group called EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) which was founded by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in 2007.

"The results of the mapping exercise are alarming," professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL's Director of Conservation, said in a statement. "Currently only five percent of the areas we've identified as priorities for EDGE mammals and 15 percent of the EDGE amphibian areas are protected."

"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," Baillie added.

The Guardian has some great shots, and more information, about some of the species featured on the map. Just click on the image below:

edge-map-guardian.jpg

As an organization, EDGE focuses on species that don't tend to get much coverage in the media - it ran a campaign last year asking whether some animals are "too 'ugly' to be saved".

"We've tried to draw attention to a range of species that are on the verge of extinction, that most people haven't heard of or are doing anything about," Baillie told the BBC.

"So something like a pangolin - a beautiful creature the size of a small dog, it has scales all over its body and lives in trees - it's taken for the Chinese medicinal trade."

In fact, EDGE says that amphibians - not the most talked-about creatures on the endangered list - are suffering a "terrible" rate of extinction. They are now the most threatened vertebrates in the world.

edge-map-axolotl.jpg
The Mexican salamander, or axolotl, is critically endangered because of pollution, urbanization and non-native fish (Photo: Reuters)

So the main message of the map may be negative: a lot of species are facing serious danger. But there's also hope, as EDGE believes small changes can have a positive effect in many cases.

Baillie told the BBC about a small worm-like amphibian from Kenya called the Sagalla caecilian.

"It was just losing its habitat because the native trees were taken, so we've started a programme of replanting the native trees and 6,000 have been replanted and the areas where they have their strongholds are now being protected."

"That kind of simple action can ensure that those species can be there hopefully for hundred of years to come."

Via The Guardian

Related:

New Report Says 25 Of The World's Primate Species Are On The Brink Of Extinction

THEY'RE BACK: Extinct Species That Reappeared

The WWF Is Using Aerial Drones To Track Down Poachers

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