An international grouping of scientists has published a list of 100 species headed for imminent extinction. Blame human greed and the relentless destruction of habitat.
Professor Jonathan Baillie, conservation director at the Zoological Society of London, says that a “what can nature do for us” attitude is at the root of the problem.
“This has made it increasingly difficult for conservationists to protect the most threatened species on the planet,” he says. “While the utilitarian value of nature is important, conservation goes beyond this. Do these species have a right to survive or do we have a right to drive them to extinction?”
Conservationists fear the species in 48 countries, including Britain, may die out because they don’t offer obvious benefits to humans.
The list is headed by the “weird and wonderful” spoon-billed sandpiper which breeds in Russia and migrates to Bangladesh and Myanmar. There are just 100 breeding pairs of the birds left in the wild with that number declining by a quarter annually.
There are also just 500 pygmy three-toed sloths left on the uninhabited Isla Escudo de Veraguas, 10 miles off the coast of Panama. They are half the size of sloths found on the mainland and are the smallest and slowest sloths in the world. But their numbers are declining with fishermen and lobster divers “opportunistically” hunting the small animals, the report said.