With an initial list of just 10 — including a venomous shrew-like creature, an egg-laying mammal and the world’s smallest bat — the programme will give last ditch conservation aid where to date there has been little or none.
"We are focusing on EDGE species — that means they are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered," said Zoological Society of London scientist Jonathan Baillie.
"These are one-of-a-kind species. If they are lost there is nothing similar to them left on the planet. It would be a bit like the art world losing the Mona Lisa — they are simply irreplaceable," he said.
Not only are the target species unique, the project itself is breaking new ground by using the internet to highlight threatened creatures and encourage the public to sponsor conservation.