Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A tiny, rare snail in Malaysia has big consequences for global cement giant

A new species of snail is believed only to exist in a limestone quarry mined by cements giant Lafarge, Tony Juniper challenges the company to protect it from extinction

Guardian Professional, Monday 25 August 2014 07.00 BST

For the first time ever, a ‘new’ species has been named after the company that has the power to either conserve or destroy it. It’s a snail and, although small, has the potential to leave a permanent legacy for a giant global business.

The snail in question was recently discovered living on an isolated limestone hill called Gunung Kanthan in the northwest of Peninsular Malaysia – its only known home on Earth. Many species with tiny geographical ranges are at particular risk of extinction, but this one more so than many as the only place it has ever been found is in the corner of a limestone quarry run by global cement and aggregates giant Lafarge.

The quarry, or at least those parts of it that have yet to be blown apart to provide material for cement manufacture, has proven a remarkably fertile place for new species. It has recently been the source of three new kinds of plant, a trapdoor spider, another snail and new kind of Bent-toed Gecko. Given the very restricted known distributions of these species, all of them are presumed to be at critical risk of global extinction, and all face threat from further quarrying.

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