Priceless or worthless? That’s the question the international body responsible for protecting wildlife will be asked this week as it is presented with the 100 most critically endangered species in the world today.
Many of them will be largely unknown to us – Tarzan chameleon, the spoon-billed sandpiper and the pygmy three-toed sloth – so why should we feel the need to protect them?
"However, if we take immediate action we can give them a fighting chance for survival. But this requires society to support the moral and ethical position that all species have an inherent right to exist.”
But with many donors and conservation groups preferring to prioritise species and habitats according to the services they provide for people, less-heralded species are likely to disappear into extinction.
ZSL argues that while monetising nature remains a worthwhile necessity for conservationists, the wider value of species on the brink of extinction should not be forgotten.
“All species have a value to nature and thus in turn to humans,” says Dr Simon Stuart, chair IUCN species survival commission. “Although the value of some species may not appear obvious at first, all species in fact contribute in their way to the healthy functioning of the planet.”