Global map of Earth's unique/threatened species created

May 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM
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LONDON, May 16 (UPI) -- The Zoological Society of London has released what it says is the first map of the world's unique and threatened mammals and amphibians.

Creatures like the black-and-white ruffed lemur, Mexican salamander and Sunda pangolin are highlighted on the map, which pinpoints areas of the world where Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) mammals and amphibians occur, a society release reported Thursday.

Regions containing the highest concentrations of these and other unique species are highlighted as global conservation priorities, researchers said.

"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," the society's director of conservation Jonathan Baillie said. "These new maps will inform the development of larger-scale work to help secure the future of some of the most remarkable species on Earth."

Madagascar's black-and-white ruffed lemur is the largest lemur in the world and is threatened by hunting and the loss of its forest habitat. The Sunda pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater, occurs in Southeast Asia and is threatened by illegal poaching for its meat as well as its scales which are thought to have high medicinal value.

The map raises concern for the survival of these and other species, the researchers said.

"The results of the mapping exercise are alarming," Baillie said. "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."

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