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A world map of sites where animals and plants face imminent extinction shows that developing countries face the greatest threat.

Researchers from the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), a coalition of conservation groups, identified 794 species across 595 sites that they say will disappear unless action is taken to protect them.

The majority of threatened sites are in developing countries, primarily in the tropics and in heavily populated areas. Few are fully protected.

Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say the annual cost of protecting each site would vary from US$470 to US$3,500,000. While the upper end of this scale might be prohibitively expensive, it suggests at least some sites can be conserved.

Working with local communities to promote sustainable development will be key to implementing successful conservation strategies, says conservationist John Fa.

Fa says conserving wildlife can benefit the local communities. He gives the example of Madagascar, where conservation projects have attracted donor money for building schools and wells.

Link to full article on BBC Online

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