“Conservation resources usually go towards a small group of iconic species: tigers, elephants… but there are so many species that are not given any attention and that represent huge and very important parts of biodiversity,” says Andrew Terry , Director of Conservation and Policy at the Zoological Society of London.
After reaching this conclusion, his organization decided to create the program EDGE of Existence (On the edge of existence, also playing with the acronym “Evolutionarily unique and globally threatened”, EDGE in English), because before protecting these species it was necessary to recognize that they existed.
“They are wonderful, they are strange,” says Terry, which caused many of them to end up becoming ambassadors of their own condition, as is the case of the ‘punk’ turtle from Australia’s Mary River, blue eyes, with a crest of algae on its head and breathing through its genitals.
“You have to go back a few 50 million years to find a remotely similar species,” warned Marilyn Connell, a researcher at Charles Darwin University in Australia. “It would be a great failure if this animal, which walked alongside the dinosaurs, became extinct.”
There was a time when the ‘punk’ turtle was a favorite in pet stores. In the 60s and 70s, around 15,000 were sold. elusor macrurus every year in stores. Today Its habitat is unprotected, mainly due to the introduction of new species. “They have survived millions of years against all kinds of predators, and now they are in danger because of man,” laments Sydney turtle scholar John Cann.