It is a sad competition, and the world needs to react. Madagascar has the highest number of endangered species, 3664, and the situation there is doubly urgent, since most of those species are not found anywhere else in the world. Madagascar would also rank very high in terms of phylogenetic uniqueness; many of the species on Madagascar don’t even have any close relatives in the rest of the world. This means that the amount of unique evolutionary history embodied by its flora and fauna is very high. Madagascar clearly should be very high on anyone’s list of world conservation priorities.
We are next, with 2568 endangered species, showing that Ecuador should also be a world conservation priority. We rank high for a combination of reasons. First, Ecuador is one of the countries with the highest biodiversity, so we have more species to lose than most countries. Second, because of the topographical complexity of the Andes, we have more locally endemic species (species found only in small areas and not found anywhere else in the world) than most countries. These are particularly vulnerable to extinction. Third, the population density of Ecuador is one of the highest in South America, so there is tremendous pressure on all those rare, locally endemic species.
A simple list of the number of endangered species is just one out of many equally legitimate numbers which could be used to set conservation priorities, but this is a good starting point to help set the world’s conservation priorities. We are doing our part by discovering and protecting Ecuador’s hidden hotspots of endemic species of plants and animals, thanks to your help.
Lou Jost, Fundacion EcoMinga