100 Under 100: The Race to Save the World's Rarest Living by Scott Leslie

By Scott Leslie

Scientists estimate that the complete biodiversity in the world is among 10 million and a hundred million species. of those, simply over 1.6 million and counting have truly been catalogued and defined. One percentage, or 16,306, of these species are threatened with extinction, approximately one-fifth of them significantly. Of this workforce, a few have vanishingly small populations within the double or unmarried digits. a number of species, together with the Pinta Island tremendous tortoise and the Yangtze mammoth softshell turtle, sit down squarely at the border of extinction within the wild with a inhabitants of one.

In 100 less than 100, Scott Leslie tells the attention-grabbing tales of species in far-flung areas not anyone ever hears approximately, just like the northern hairy-nosed wombat, the Gorgan mountain salamander or the Irrawaddy river shark. towards domestic are the Vancouver Island marmot, the Wyoming toad and the Devil’s gap pupfish. Leslie additionally tells tales of hopeful growth, as a number of the rarest of the infrequent are again from the edge of extinction throughout the committed efforts of individuals round the world.

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The predator became the prey as the relentless killing of cheetahs, coupled with the elimination of the deer they needed to survive, reduced the cats’ numbers drastically by 1910. Add the destruction of native grassland habitat for agriculture, and the Asiatic cheetah was all but history. By the mid-20th century, the species was wiped out in India and southwestern Asia—the last three shot in 1947 by the Maharaja of Surguja, who also slaughtered 1,157 tigers during his life, thus playing an important role in ushering another Asian cat to near non-existence.

Driven by his unflinching commitment to saving the species (even as a young boy in Wales he bred native kestrels), Jones helped increase its population from just 4 to over 200 in the early 1990s. Once again, the diminutive falcons could be seen flashing through what was left of the island’s subtropical evergreen forests—especially those in the Black River Gorges area in the southwest part of the island. So successful was the recovery effort that the captive breeding program was ended when the population reached a self-sustaining 300 birds in 1994, the same year the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the official global authority on threatened species and more commonly known as the IUCN, downlisted the species to the Vulnerable category of its Red List of Threatened Species.

Poaching for the traditional Asian medicine trade has decimated its numbers. A population of nearly 3,000 in the 1960s had collapsed to a low of just 53 in 2000. Today, fewer than 100 individuals remain. They live only on Cat Ba Island in the archipelago of the same name in northern Vietnam. The archipelago has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2004. Nearly 2,000 islands, islets, and rocks make up the archipelago, which was formed when the sea level began to rise about 10,000 years ago, creating Halong Bay.

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