Photo: Daniel P Davis/Flickr
As a list of the world’s 100 most critically endangered species was published, one academic challenged the idea that all should be preserved.The idea that all species have an equal right to exist makes as much sense as believing we should bring back dinosaurs and dodos, a scientist has suggested.
A report on the 100 most critically endangered species in the world has been published by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), with its authors arguing they should all be saved.
But Dr Sarah Chan, deputy director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at Manchester University, challenged the belief that all species should be preserved.
She said: “When we say that all species have an equal right to exist, do we mean just all of the species that currently exist? What about the species that have already gone extinct?
“I don’t see any good reason to limit ourselves only to this precise moment in time in terms of the species that we should be concerned about.
“But that being the case, if we think that all species have an equal right to exist, we have an equal obligation to resurrect extinct species, to bring back the dinosaurs and the dodos.”
The list of threatened species includes the pygmy three-toed sloth, the Jamaican rock iguana and Tarzan’s chameleon.
The report on them, entitled Priceless or Worthless, identifies the threats they all face and how they can be addressed.
Professor Jonathan Baillie, co-author and director of conservation at ZSL, said allowing species to die out would lead to “a situation where we don’t have enough species to provide.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “They should be saved in their own right, it’s an ethical issue as well as a question of sustainability.
“But it’s also about the future generation, and we should be doing everything we can to show that we respect all forms of life. How we treat these 100 on the list is really representative of how we’ll treat the rest of life.”
All the species listed in his report face extinction “driven by humans”, he said, adding: “We have the ability to reverse these declines and it’s really our moral imperative to do so.”
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