LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists launched a bid on Tuesday to save some of the world's rarest and most neglected creatures from extinction.
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 focussing on EDGE species -- that means they are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered," said Zoological Society of London scientist Jonathan Baillie.
SOME of the planet's rarest and most unusual animals will be the focus of an ambitious conservation project by British scientists.
The plan will focus on animals traditionally overlooked by conservationists, and will allow the public to track and donate to individual projects via a website.
Led by the Zoological Society of London, the Edge project has identified 100 species of mammals that have the fewest relatives left alive in the wild, making them the world's most genetically unique mammals.
The 10 most endangered, including the Yangtze River dolphin and the bumblebee bat, will be the focus of the first year's work. The aim was to prevent hundreds of unique species from sliding unnoticed towards extinction, said Jonathan Baillie, a research fellow with the zoological society.
"This is the first global-scale program specifically developed to focus on these one-of-a-kind and highly threatened animals," Dr Baillie said. "We will be working to protect some of the world's most extraordinary species, including giant venomous shrew-like creatures, matchbox-sized bats and egg-laying mammals, all of which are teetering on the edge of extinction."