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Meet the 10 Species ZSL EDGE of Existence and National Geographic Are Working to Protect in Asia

These 10 critters photographed for the National Geographic Photo Ark represent some of the most unique and endangered species in Asia. That’s why the National Geographic Society and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have teamed up to help protect them.

Last year, the National Geographic Society and ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme announced a new partnership to help protect threatened species featured in the National Geographic Photo Ark, a flagship program of the National Geographic Society. Already, there are five Nat Geo Photo Ark EDGE Fellows working on the ground in Latin America to protect the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi).

National Geographic and ZSL are now supporting a second cohort of Nat Geo Photo Ark EDGE Fellows, who will focus on species in Asia.

From the Bengal slow loris, one of the world’s only venomous primates, to the big-headed turtle, whose head is so big that it cannot be retracted into its shell, these truly weird and wonderful species are in desperate need of conservation attention. In fact, the latest group will include the largetooth sawfish, which is one of the most unique and most threatened species on the planet and will be one of the first projects on a species from the EDGE sharks and rays list. Species that will be supported through this year’s fellowship projects include:

  • Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis): Vulnerable*
  • Big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum): Endangered
  • Cantor’s giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii): Endangered
  • Crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus): Endangered
  • Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus): Critically Endangered
  • Giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea): Critically Endangered
  • Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas): Endangered
  • Largetooth sawfish (Pristis pristis): Critically Endangered
  • Red panda (Ailurus fulgens): Endangered
  • Rufous-headed hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni): Critically Endangered

*All statuses listed are from the IUCN Red List

More than 26,000 species are threatened with extinction, and both National Geographic and ZSL are committed to helping save these species at risk. The National Geographic Photo Ark, founded by National Geographic photographer, fellow, and 2018 Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year Joel Sartore, aims to document every species in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, inspire action through education, and help save wildlife by supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts. The EDGE of Existence programme highlights and protects some of the most unique and wonderful species on the planet.

In January 2019, the Nat Geo Photo Ark EDGE Fellow candidates working to protect these species in Asia will attend a four-week Conservation Tools training course in Borneo. Upon successful completion of this course the fellows will begin a two-year fellowship project on their focal species.

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About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.