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Conservationists Issue Plea to Save 100 Most Endangered Species

'What can nature do for me?' mindset wrong path to conservation, say experts

Common Dreams staff

Included on the list is the wooly spider monkey, whose habitat in southeastern Brazil is under threat from deforestation. (photo: Paulo B. Chaves / Flickr)

Over 8,000 conservation experts have issued a plea to save the world's 100 most endangered species.

The report, Priceless or Worthless?, released Tuesday from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), includes Tarzan’s chameleon, the spoon-billed sandpiper and the pygmy three-toed sloth at the top of the list.

Also included on the list is the Javan Rhino, which is now battling for survival as poaching has decimated its population. The report states that "Losing [a rhino] species due to the human desire to consume ever more resources would be inexcusable."

“All the species listed are unique and irreplaceable. If they vanish, no amount of money can bring them back," says ZSL's Ellen Butcher, co-author of the report.

The people-centered focus of conservation has failed to protect species, Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL’s Director of Conservation says. "The donor community and conservation movement are leaning increasingly towards a ‘what can nature do for us’ approach, where species and wild habitats are valued and prioritized according to the services they provide for people. This has made it increasingly difficult for conservationists to protect the most threatened species on the planet."

"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?” stated Baillie.

If we fail to take action to prevent the extinction of these species, Dr. Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission writes in the foreward to the report, "we shall be inadvertently accepting the ethical position that human-caused mass extinction is acceptable."

The report will be presented today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea.

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