The Zoological Society of London has launched a new conservation programme for weird wildlife:
Species like the bumblebee bat and the pygmy hippopotamus will be protected under the Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) project. The scheme targets animals with unique evolutionary histories that are facing a real risk of extinction. The ZSL says many of these species are ignored by existing conservation plans. The Society defines Edge animals as having few close relatives, genetically distinct, and require immediate action to save them from extinction.
The Edge list for this year: Pygmy hippopotamus, Attenborough's long-beaked echidna, Hispaniolan solenodon, Bactrian camel, Yangtze River dolphin, Slender loris, Hirola antelope, Golden-rumped elephant shrew, Bumblebee bat and of course the Long-eared jerboa.
"They represent entire lineages. If you were to think about Edge species in terms of the art world, it would be like losing a Mona Lisa - they are totally irreplaceable and unique.
They're all the things that God created from the leftover bits, Molly Ringwalds in home made prom dresses, nature's underdogs... It's nice that someone is thinking about them instead of those smug bastard penguins that get all the film work.