Vietnam home to five of 100 most endangered species

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A softshell turtle at the Sword Lake in Hanoi. Only four of this species is believed to be found worldwide, in Hanoi and a zoo in China.

Hanoi's soft-shell turtle, the Saola, a langur, a pheasant and a pangasius fish found in Vietnam are included in a new list of 100 most endangered species in the world.

The list was released at a Tuesday conference in South Korea, compile by more than 8,000 scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) along with experts from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The IUCN said in a report that the list identifies 100 of the most threatened animals, plants and fungi on the planet, and is the first of its kind.

It said conservationists fear these animals would die soon because none of the species provide humans with obvious benefits.

"The donor community and conservation movement are leaning increasingly towards a "˜what can nature do for us' approach, where species and wild habitats are valued and prioritized according to the services they provide for people," the report quotes Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL's Director of Conservation, as saying.

"This has made it increasingly difficult for conservationists to protect the most threatened species on the planet. We have an important moral and ethical decision to make: Do these species have a right to survive or do we have a right to drive them to extinction?," he says.

The "Priceless or Worthless" list has five animals from Vietnam the Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), an antelope in the central mountains; Edwards's Pheasant (Lophura edwardsi) which is endemic to Vietnam's rainforests; the Red River giant soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) in Hanoi; the Pangasid catfish (Pangasius sanitwongsei) from Chao Phraya river in Thailand and the Mekong basins in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam; and the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus) in northeastern Vietnam.

Experts consider Saola one of the most threatened mammals in Southeast Asia. It is known as the Asian unicorn because of its rarity, with population down to few dozen individuals in mountains along the Vietnam and Laos border.

 

The saola, now only found in few tens in mountains in central Vietnam, is considered one of the most threatened mammals in Southeast Asia.

A Guardian report says the pheasant, just like the Saola, is threatened by hunting and habitat loss, and is now scattered over small areas in Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue Provinces in central Vietnam.

While the pheasant population is unknown, the report says there're  only four of the Red River giant soft-shell turtle in Hanoi at the Sword Lake, the Dong Mo Lake and Suzhou Zoo, China. Hunting, wetland destruction and pollution are blamed.

It says the monkey population is less than 200.

The 100 species came from 48 different countries.

Dr Simon Stuart, Chair IUCN Species Survival Commission, said "All species have a value to nature and thus in turn to humans.

"Although the value of some species may not appear obvious at first, all species in fact contribute in their way to the healthy functioning of the planet."

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Professor Baillie said "If we believe these species are priceless it is time for the conservation community, government and industry to step up to the plate and show future generations that we value all life."

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