Every one of the species listed is unique and irreplaceable, and have a fighting chance for survival, as long as we humans accept that all species have an inherent right to exist, and take action to support them.
Last Tuesday, the first of its kind list of the 100 most endangered species on earth was published – in South Korea – at the World Conservation Conference, as had been compiled by 8,000 scientists, who thought differently about this topic, in that they have highlighted species they fear will simply be left to die out because they have no obvious benefits for humans.
This list is not just concerned with animals by any means. Take for instance the case of one of the rarest fungi in the world – the Willow Blister that grows – parasitically – on twigs in a small corner of Wales, or the Hoodia cactus of the Kalahari – a long-known about appetite-suppressant that may yield other medical benefits if tested.
Unfortunately, these plants, like the small, dull-coloured Spoon-billed Sandpiper, a bird breeding in Russia but targeted by hunters on the way to south-east Asia, or the Panamanian, Pygmy Three-toed Sloth – when fully grown no bigger than a newborn baby – or the Brazilian Woolly spider monkey – all under threat from habitat destruction – are deemed worthy of being saved.
The threats to this varied life-forms is quite simply found in the human actions of destroying habitats and changing the climate, yet because they are not species familiar to us all, like the Elephant, for example, the scientists believe that humanity as a whole is fairly indifferent to their fate, though surely even apparently less-favoured species deserve to be preserved for future generations?
Conservation movements, it would appear, are increasingly leaning towards an approach of what nature can do for humans in terms of conservation priorities, making it increasingly difficult to protect the most threatened species on the planet. There is even the horror of this attitude escalating the dangers – the South African Wild Yam under serious threat through over-harvesting for supposed medicinal benefits- and the Pitcher Plant named after Sir David Attenborough – found only on Philippines Mount Victoria – is under threat, because of its fame, from collectors.
The vital moral and ethical decision of whether or not these species have a right to survive needs to be addressed urgently, because some of the listed species are down to the last few- like the so-called – because sightings are so few – Asian unicorn, the Saola antelope, on the very brink of disappearance.
Every one of the species listed is unique and irreplaceable, and have a fighting chance for survival, as long as we humans accept that all species have an inherent right to exist, and take action to support them. After all, even if extinctions take place naturally all the time, not even a species as superior as humanity thinks itself to be has the right to prematurely terminate the evolutionary development of others.
Those life-forms on that list have their place in nature and humans simply do not have the right ever to play god, for in our own way we are just as fragile. All species on earth do, in fact, contribute in their way to the healthy functioning of the planet, and we should never forget that, because one day, we might be on the brink ourselves.