It’s easy to lend a hand to the Save The Pandas campaign as the animals are cute and cuddly, but does that same effort goes towards animals that are not so attractive? Creatures that achieve world fame for being under threaten tend to be conventionally aesthetically pleasing.
Scientists who study the planet’s rarest beasts say that many of the precious and threatened creatures have physical characteristics that make them truly unique. A project headed by the Zoological Society for London is trying to raise awareness of these less appreciated creatures.
“I love all the species on the Edge lists,” says the director of Edge Carly Waterman, “but I think some do need a little extra help to get them a place int he hearts of the general public.”
Some of these not so cute animals include the long-beaked echidna. The long-nosed, sharped-clawed character is the oldest surviving mammal in the world and has been around for 120 million years. The long-beaked echidnas are found in Papua New Guinea, where they use their beaks to dig in wet soil for earthworms. The animal became extinct in Australia due to the drying out of the climate.
Another animal includes the Ganges river dolphin. The big-nosed mammal is a stocky freshwater dolphin with a long beak that displays its large, very visible teeth. It has tiny, nonfunctional eyes because it has little need for vision in the muddy waters. Nadia Richman from the Institute of Zoology says the dolphin is the “last remaining, widespread top predator in freshwater systems in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.”
The Sunda Pangolin are the only mammals in the world to be entirely covered in scales made of keratin, like rhino horn or human finger nails. Their scales have a misplaced belief that it carries therapeutic value has driven the animal to extinction. Pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine claiming to aid in breastfeeding mothers to lactate to curing cancer.