The world’s most extensive quest to find species that have not been seen in the wild in decades has just been announced by Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), an organization that is working with local partners to send scientific expeditions to some of the most remote and uncharted places on Earth.
The initiative has narrowed the search to focus on 25 species species. GWC compiled the list with the help of more than 100 specialist groups under the Species Survival Commission at the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The list of species was selected from a total of more than 1,200 species that are considered lost across more than 160 countries. Each of the species on the final list has not been seen since before 2007. Some may even be extinct.
“Expeditions for lost species are going to take scientists across the planet from the dark depths of the ocean to the bottom of rushing freshwater rivers, from the lush jungles of the tropics, to the seemingly barren wastelands of the desert,” Don Church, GWC president and director of conservation, said in a statement. “The hope that we can preserve as much of Earth’s beauty and wonder as possible will drive the adventurers to overcome the elements, logistical mishaps and the race against time.”
Fundraising for the expeditions, set to launch this fall, is now underway. One challenge is that researchers on the missions may only have scientific descriptions to go by, since photographs of the animals are incredibly rare or non-existent. Images created by artist Alexis Rockman, who also creates works for the Turtle Conservancy, illustrate what some of the species are thought to look like, based on available data.