Launched in January 2007, ZSL's EDGE of Existence programme prioritises species for conservation attention according to their degree of unique evolutionary history (Evolutionary Distinctiveness) weighted by conservation urgency (Global Endangerment, representing threat status according to the IUCN Red List). The world's most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species are not only on the verge of extinction but are also totally unique in the way they look, live and behave. These irreplaceable species include the long-beaked echidna (one of only two types of egg-laying mammal), the Chinese giant salamander (a newt that has reached human proportions) and the West Indian solenodons (the only mammals capable of injecting venom into their prey through their teeth). EDGE species are immediate priorities for conservation attention because if they disappear then millions of years of unique evolutionary history will be lost forever and there will be nothing like them left on earth.
Our research has identified a major gap in global conservation efforts: 64% of the world's top 100 EDGE mammals and 85% of the top 100 EDGE amphibians are currently receiving little or no conservation attention. These alarming figures are likely to be even higher in less well-known taxa. EDGE's mission is to secure the future of these forgotten species through supporting targeted on-the-ground action for priority EDGE species (EDGE Projects), building conservation capacity in regions in which priority EDGE species occur (through our Fellowship programme) and encouraging others to support and engage in EDGE species conservation.
For more information visit: www.edgeofexistence.org
Red Pandas have hair on the top and bottom of their feet to keep them warm (a character that few creatures, such as the polar bear, have)
They feed almost exclusively on bamboo, eating thousands of leaves every day and have a radial sesmoid (i.e. thumb) for tearing off bamboo
The scientific name, Ailurus fulgens literally means "fire-coloured cat"
Photos Courtesy of: Tomalin(1), KJCorry Photography(2), Yvonne White(1), from left to right
A debate remains to whether it is more fit to be in the raccoon family, Procyonidae, due to physical similarities such as dentition, skull, and ringed tail or whether is should be placed in the bear family, Ursidae, due to genetic similarities to that of the giant panda.
Mountain ranges of western China (Sichuan, Yunnan, and Tibet provinces) and the Himalayan Mountain chain (Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Myanmar).
"Quack-snorting" as they waddle down a tree to go munching on some crunchy bamboo
Crepuscular (active during twilight from dawn until dusk), attached, leaf-loving
Conservation Action Plan for this species has been developed by IUCN/SSC Mustelid, Viverrid, and Procynid Specialist Group