September 11, 2012 - 11:40 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - For the first time ever, more than 8,000 scientists from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) have come together to identify 100 of the most threatened animals, plants and fungi on the planet, EurekAlert reports.
But conservationists fear they'll be allowed to die out because none of these species provide humans with obvious benefits.
The report, called Priceless or Worthless?, will be presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in South Korea this week, and hopes to push the conservation of 'worthless' creatures up the agenda that is set by NGOs from around the globe.
Their declines have mainly been caused by humans, but in almost all cases scientists believe their extinction can still be avoided if conservation efforts are specifically focused. Conservation actions deliver results with many species such as Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus) and Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) have being saved from extinction.
The 100 species, from 48 different countries are first in line to disappear completely if nothing is done to protect them.
The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) is one of the animals facing a bleak future. Escudo Island, 17km off the coast of Panama, is the only place in the world where these tiny sloths are found. At half the size of their mainland cousins, and weighing roughly the same as a newborn baby, pygmy sloths are the smallest and slowest sloths in the world and remain Critically Endangered.
Similarly, the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) is one of the most threatened mammals in Southeast Asia. Known as the Asian unicorn because of its rarity, the population of these antelope may be down to few tens of individuals today.
In the UK, a small area in Wales is the only place in the world where the brightly colored willow blister (Cryptomyces maximus) is found. Populations of the spore-shooting fungi are currently in decline, and a single catastrophic event could cause their total destruction.