Ark of Life is a non profit organisation, set up to prevent species that are already extinct, or nearly extinct in the wild from vanishing completely.
We work to assemble and organise permanent collections of imperilled plants and animals in partnership with botanic gardens and zoos across the world. The collections, or "arks" aim to support an ex-situ approach to conservation to prevent critically imperilled species from vanishing altogether. The arks are the ultimate safety mechanism to stop extinction, and by "backing up" collections at multiple localities across the globe, the protected genetic diversity of each imperilled plant or animal will serve as a permanent resource to ensure that extinct-in-the-wild species survive, at least in cultivation, until future regeneration of natural habitats and repopulation efforts are accomplished.
Ark of Life's founding goals are to:
1. set up and organise collections ("arks") of plant and animal species most critically threatened by extinction in the wild. In particular, we focus on less well known species that have little other effective means of protection, and particularly keystone taxa on which secondary organisms depend. All arks are hosted by a botanical or zoological institution, commercial nursery or private individual with expertise in the culture of the protected taxa.
2. work with botanical and zoological institutions, conservation organisations, private individuals and nurseries to assist in the growth of each ark by legal accessions to ensure that the maximum amount of genetic diversity of each imperilled taxon is permanently protected. All accessions to our collections are legal, and from plants and animals that are already in cultivation.
3. work with grant giving organisations to secure funding for the growth and management of each collection.
4. promote the establishment of back up arks for each taxa across the world.
5. assist local, regional and national conservation authorities in reintroduction efforts, where appropriate, so that the arks of life may be used to reintroduce imperilled plants and animals back into the wild.
6. maintain detailed records of the natural diversity and current conservation status of all of the imperilled plant and animal species which we work to protect.
The first ark of life which we established is the Rare Nepenthes Collection, and this examine illustrates our working principles very clearly.
Nepenthes are carnivorous pitcher plants found across the world. Approximately 130 species are currently recognised, and at least one third occur on just one or two mountain peaks and no where else in the world. As the populations of Nepenthes are often very small, and since the plants often fetch high prices (above US $100 per plant) in cultivation, many Nepenthes species are in sharp decline in the wild, mainly due to poaching and habitat destruction. Four Nepenthes species are already either extinct, or practically extinct in the wild. Although these four species are grown in cultivation, an organised approach is required if they are to survive, as species, in the long term, because (a) strains in cultivation are scattered and most/all will eventually will be lost from horticulture in the long term, (b) as monoecious plants, a minimum of two specimens (a male and a female) are required for the species to procreate, and (c) multiple strains of plants of each sex must be preserved if significant biodiversity is to be preserved, and survival for the long term to be made viable
New accessions of Nepenthes clipeata into the Rare Nepenthes Collection. Nepenthes clipeata is a critically imperilled carnivorous pitcher plant, that is extinct (or practically so) in the wild.