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Focal Species

With over 2,000 EDGE species identified to date, 425 of which are highlighted as Top 100 or Top 25 EDGE species, we’ve chosen a selection of species to focus on from across all EDGE taxonomic groups. EDGE Focal Species are those for which we undertake conservation action, through our Fellows, Projects and Expeditions, and in the ZSL Zoological collections.


Focal Species are typically selected from the priority EDGE Species—the Top 100 amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, and Top 25 corals—however, we also prioritise species outside these rankings. Focal Species can also be species with very high ED but fall outside the Top 100 EDGE rankings, such as the olm, which represents over 77 million years of ED but is only Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Further, we also focus on species from clades—genera or families—which represent an evolutionarily important lineage threatened with extinction, such as the Ambystoma salamanders of Central America. Finally, we invest in Focal Species that complement research from other areas of ZSL, including Conservation Programmes, the Institute of Zoology, and the Living Collections. These Focal Species include pangolins, rhinos, and the Chinese giant salamander.


Pangolins are Focal EDGE Species. There are several EDGE Fellows and they feature prominently in ZSL’s wider conservation work. Image: – Luke Massey


Our primary approach to conserving our Focal Species is through our EDGE Fellows, who collect vital data on their species and work towards implementing conservation actions. We also undertake long-term conservation projects for some Focal Species, such as our ongoing pygmy sloth project. For the more elusive EDGE Focal Species, we embark on expeditions to search for these enigmatic creatures with our team of biologists. Our 2018 expedition to Patagonia was in search of populations of Hooded Grebe, a poorly-known priority EDGE Species. Our priority EDGE Lists also inform and inspire priorities for conservation across ZSL and beyond, from the animals in the Living Collections of London and Whipsnade Zoo, to the key species of the IUCN Small Mammal Specialist Group.


Cuban funnel-eared bat (Natalus primus) cave
The EDGE Expedition team in 2017 visited the only cave system from which Cuban greater funnel-eared bats were known.