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Endangered species

All of these animal species are listed on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species - the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.


Green Peafowl, lat. Pavo muticus

Conservation status: Endangered, on the IUCN Red List since 1988.

Current Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology: Forest, Shrubland

The Most Beautiful Bird in the World

Historical Value

The green peafowl Pavo muticus, with its striking, long and colourful train feathers, has strong cultural importance in Southeast Asia. The species is an ancient symbol of wealth and power in Myanmar, was used as the icon of the Burmese monarchs, was printed on Burmese banknotes until 1966 and is the emblem of the National League for Democracy. In Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, the green peafowl is frequently depicted in religious temples such as Angkor (Goes, 2009) and in Java, the species is a symbol of traditional dance (McGowan et al., 1998).

Tail feathers, or coverts, spread out in a distinctive train that is more than 60 percent of the bird’s total body length and boast colorful "eye" markings of blue, gold, red, and other hues. The large train is used in mating rituals and courtship displays. It can be arched into a magnificent fan that reaches across the bird's back and touches the ground on either side. Females are believed to choose their mates according to the size, color, and quality of these outrageous feather trains.

Green Peafowl are powerful flyers that cover long distances as they travel from their deep forest roost to feeding sites in marsh pastures and along river banks.

Each feather consists of thousands of flat branches. When light shines on the feather, we see thousands of glimmering colored spots, each caused by minuscule bowl-shaped indentations. Stronger magnification reveals microscopic lamellae (thin plate-like layers) at the bottom of the indentations. As with butterfly wings, the regular pattern of the lamellae leads to interference phenomena and iridescent colors. The feathers of pheasants, birds of paradise, and hummingbirds create color using the same mechanism.

Nicobar Pigeon, lat. Caloenas nicobarica

Conservation status: Near threatened, on the IUCN Red List since 1988.

Current Populatin Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology: Forest, Shrubland

The Closest Living Relative to the Dodo


Caloenas Nicobarica or Nicobar Pigeon, often called 'the only living relative of the Dodo bird' – an icon of extinction caused by human action, lives in the forests of five different biodiversity hotspots: Indo Burma, Sundaland, Philippines, Wallacea and East Melanesian Islands. To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a region must have at least 1,500 vascular plants as endemics, a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet.

A hotspot, in other words, is irreplaceable. It must have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, it must be threatened. Currently 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots represent just 2.4% of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s plant species as endemics and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species as endemics, so it's impossible to find another 2.4% of the planet that’s more important.

Biodiversity and ecosystems provide crucial services to humankind – food security, provision of clean water, pollination, climate regulation and medicine, and during this intensive period of the Anthropocene, we are reducing them with no bigger picture, but to satisfy The Now.

Beside being beautiful and important for his own ecosystem, Nicobar Pigeon belongs to a group of animals whose brilliant iridescent colors are result of structural coloration – interaction of light and their biological nanostructures. Research on structural coloration in Nicobar pigeon and underlying nanoscale architecture has led to many practical applications like self-cleaning surfaces, antireflective coatings, fabrics or color-selective filters, according to the scientists of the University of Birmingham.

In his book Micrographia (1665), Robert Hooke, a scientist, architect, biologist, astronomer and mapmaking pioneer, noted that pigments in peafowl's feather could not be responsible for the iridescence, since it was lost when peafowl was plunged into water, but reappeared when it was returned to the air.

Nowadays, bionics - biologically inspired engineering, further explores the application of biological principles and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems, allowing new developments to emerge in the areas of technology, medicine and design. The word bionic was coined by Jack E. Steele in August 1958, being formed as a portmanteau from biology and electronics.

Make sustainable choices, let biodiversity flourish!

Sumatran Orangutan, lat. Pongo abeii

Conservation status: Critically endangered, on the IUCN Red List since 1986.

Current Populatin Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology: Forest

Forest Engineers Ambassadors for the Sumatran Rainforest

Ecological Value

According to their Malay name (orang means “person” and hutan is “forest”) they are 'persons of the forest'. These large charismatic fruit-eaters are also gardeners, forest engineers responsible for spreading and maintaining a wide array of tree species. In Borneo their role as ecosystem engineers is not simply aesthetic, they may be critical for mitigating global carbon emissions.

They are primarily fruit eaters, being especially attracted to the energy-rich fruits of the biggest forest trees. While other large animals, such as elephants and rhino, are capable of spreading seeds from fallen fruits, orangutan are capable of spreading the seeds from the hanging fruits of the largest trees, making them critical for forest production and regeneration. All the species that share the rainforest have a part to play in the health of the ecosystem, but orangutans are sometimes referred to as ‘gardeners of the forest’ due to their special role. They eat hundreds of different types of fruit, and spread the seeds throughout the forest in their dung. They also make a new nest to sleep in every evening, breaking and bending branches and allowing light through the thick canopy onto the forest floor, helping young plants to thrive and grow.

Parson's chameleon, lat. Calumma parsonii

Conservation status: Near threatened, on the IUCN Red List since 1988.

Current Populatin Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology: Forest

The Gentle Giant - World's Largest Chameleon

Madagaskar - Biodiversity Hotspot

Biodiversity hotspots are defined as areas with exceptional species richness and concentrations of endemic species, and the loss of >70 per cent of the original primary vegetation. Madagascar is one of eight `hottest' biodiversity hotspots based on richness and endemism of plants and vertebrates and on habitat loss.

Madagascar also stands out because of its endemism at higher taxonomic levels among plants and vertebrates.

Madagascar is a jewel in biodiversity terms because of its isolation from the major continents. By preventing the overpopulation of particular insects and small invertebrates as well as providing nourishment for larger reptiles, the role that Parson’s chameleon plays in the ecosystems of Madagascar is that of both predator and prey.

A Show of Strength

Chameleons have two opposing states, Milinkovitch says. They either try to be invisible, which subtle color shifts help them achieve, or try to be seen—again by changing their color, but this time much more explosively. The chameleon reorganises its nanocrystals to change colors.

Snow Leopard, lat. Panthera Uncia

Conservation status: Vulnerable, on the IUCN Red List since 1986.

Current Populatin Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology: Forest, Shrubland, Grassland, Rocky areas

Sacred Animal Protector of the Mountains, Unifying Force and Source of Spiritual Power and Wisdom

Cultural Value

Indigenous peoples in this region relate to the snow leopard as to the cosmic axis of ancient traditions—protector of sacred mountains, unifying force, and source of spiritual power and wisdom. The conservation community increasingly recognises that cultural and biological diversity are deeply linked and programs should take into account the ethical, cultural and spiritual values of nature. Traditionally, indigenous peoples saw the snow leopard as a sacred animal, the protector of the mountains, unifying force and source of spiritual power. By reviving these cultural practices, Snow Leopard Conservancy is working to integrate traditional knowledge and indigenous conservation in conservation action, involving the national coordinators of the established transboundary programme the Land of the Snow Leopard Network, in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Greater respect for this species and awareness should lead to improved conditions for these threatened cats, along with social, economic, and ecological benefits to humans.

Snow leopards are apex predators, meaning they play a key role in maintaining the biodiversity in an ecosystem. Through population dynamics and trophic cascades, snow leopards are an important indicator of the health of the environment and help regulate the populations of species lower on the food chain.