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What is EDGE

EDGE species are living links to the past and future of life on earth. They are fundamental to biodiversity.

Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species have few or no close relatives, represent billions of years of unique evolution, and are now at risk of being lost forever.

Like a family tree stretching back millennia, all species on earth are evolutionary cousins of each other on the Tree of Life. This history creates the wonder, richness, and balance of the planet we live on — and gives great benefits to our species, from the food we eat to the emotions we feel. 

Today we are living in the midst of a mass extinction that is on track to accelerate in our lifetimes. That makes some species uniquely valuable if we are to maintain the full variety of life. EDGE species are some of the oldest surviving species of any kind. Also, they are often the only survivor of a whole branch of evolutionary history, with sister species dying out over time and leaving them as a sole living link with the past.

EDGE species are distinct, and sometimes bizarre, in the way they look, live and behave. Not everyone loves them, but we sure do! While irreplaceable, most of the 4,000 known EDGE species are overlooked and not well understood. Only one in ten of them are getting the conservation attention they need. 

On the Edge is committed to EDGE species. Because altogether they are the biodiversity that we need to protect.

Purple Frog

Living entirely underground, the purple frog emerges only one day a year to breed.

Kottigehar Dancing Frog

Restricted to forest streams, this "dancing" frog waves its hind legs in the air to attract a mate.

Indian Pangolin

Pangolins are the world’s only scaly mammals, and the most illegally trafficked wild mammal in the world.

Great Hornbill

These ‘farmers of the forest’ help disperse seeds far and wide, and maintain the health of tropical forests.

Aye-aye

Able to bite through concrete, this elusive Madagascar-based primate uses a bony middle finger to find grubs in trees.

Kākāpō

The world’s heaviest (and only flightless) parrot, kākāpō number less than 210 in their native New Zealand.

Mini Docs

EDGE species and the Tree of Life

From chickens to coral reefs, everything alive today is connected. EDGE species are some of the oldest, most unique, and most endangered branches of the evolutionary Tree of Life.

EDGE species and the Tree of Life

From chickens to coral reefs, everything alive today is connected. EDGE species are some of the oldest, most unique, and most endangered branches of the evolutionary Tree of Life.

We are focusing scientific research on the new concept of EDGE Zones. These are 25 areas with exceptionally high concentrations of EDGE (and many other) species. Protecting these areas will safeguard billions of years of threatened evolutionary history.

EDGE Zones together cover less than 1% of the earth’s land. But they hold one-third of terrestrial vertebrates, one-third of EDGE species, and one third of our planet’s evolutionary history — all of which are threatened today. 

Spread across five continents, they include the northern tip of Madagascar and the southern Western Ghats in India, where On the Edge is partnering with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) to protect some of India’s most threatened EDGE species such as the Nilgiri Marten and Purple Frog. 

Other important stuff

On the Edge announces three-year commitment to protect biodiversity in India