EDGE, a project to help save the worlds most extraordinary and threatened species is launched.
Led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the aim is to focus attention on conserving the most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species.
The animals included are genetically unique and have very few relatives in the wild. If they disappear, there will be nothing like them left on the planet. They are also threatened by alarming rates of global extinction which some scientists believe rival the mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs 65 millions years ago.
Animals such as the black rhino, blue whale, and orang-utan are some of the more well-known creatures included in the EDGE list.
Less well-known are the long-beaked echinida, a primitive mammal that lays eggs like a reptile; the dugong, which are more closely related to elephants than to marine mammals such as whales and dolphins; and the Philippine flying lemur, which is neither a true flier nor a lemur but comes from an ancient lineage of gliding mammals.
For the first year, the project will focus on the 10 most endangered species including the Yangtze river dolphin or Baiji whose numbers are unknown and may already be extinct, and the bumblebee bat, believed to be the world's smallest mammal.
Two-thirds of the EDGE species have very little or no protection so the project aims to improve this by working with scientists worldwide to monitor, study and develop conservation measures.