TOO EXPENSIVE TO SAVE?
Rescue projects for just four species attracted hundreds of millions of pounds. Could that money have been better spent?
The world’s only flightless parrot, maade famous by Douglas Adams and Markk Carwardine’s 1990 book Last Chance e to See, still finds itself on the brink. In 2012, after over 45 years of intensive conservation effffort, its population was just 126.
This big cat is undoubtedly the most expensive animal on the IUCN Red List, commanding £30 million every year. Yet even this figure may prove not enough. In 2010 scientists reported that, to achieve the aim of connecting up patches of habitat in the large landscapes in which tigers thrive, that figure may need to be increased to nearer £50 million.
Widely cited as the USA’s most expensive conservation project, the California condor rescue has, in just 30 years, boosted the species from being extinct in the wild to numbering about 400 free-flying individuals in two populations.
At present 47 giant pandas live in captivity outside China. International zoos have probably paid in excess of £100 million over the past 10 years for the privilege of hosting them, and China has also spent substantial funds on captive breeding and conservation. But there are doubts about the efficacy of these efforts.