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The Jamaican ground Iguana found in the Hellshire Hills of St Catherine, has placed the island on an Atlas of the world’s extinction hot spots, prepared by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE). A report released from the Alliance said scientists who promote global conservation drew up the Atlas, which shows at least one species is in imminent danger of dying out.
The map pinpoints 595 clearly defined sites across the globe that provide either the only or major remaining habitat for an endangered or seriously endangered species. Only a third of the areas are currently protected as conservation areas, and large human populations surround most and threaten their future.
The study said that urgent action is needed to safeguard these sites to prevent a biodiversity crisis in which species are being lost at between 100 and 1,000 times the natural rate.
“Although saving sites and species is vitally important in itself, this is about much more. At stake are the future genetic diversity of earth’s ecosystems, the global ecotourism economy worth billions of dollars per year, and the incalculable benefit of clean water. We have a moral obligation to act, ” Secretary of AZE, Mike Parr said.
The research came up with 595 sites as priority hot spots, in which a total of 794 species are in danger and exist nowhere else in significant numbers. There are particular concentrations of hot spots in the Andes of South America, the Atlantic forest region of Brazil, the Caribbean and Madagascar. Mexico has the most hot spots, with 63, while there are 48 in Colombia, 39 in Brazil and 29 in Indonesia.
The Massif de la Hotte region of Haiti is the site with the most individual endangered species at risk, with 13 varieties of Eleutherodactylus frog that are found nowhere else and are threatened with extinction. Other species listed as under threat include the volcano rabbit from Mexico, the Jamaican ground iguana, the giant-striped mongoose from Madagascar and the ivory-billed woodpecker, that was presumed to be extinct before being rediscovered recently in the Cache River area of Arkansas in the US.