Discovering Species

A snake in Ajenjua, Ghana. © Piotr Naskrecki
A snake in Ajenjua, Ghana.
© Piotr Naskrecki
About CI discoveries

We share our planet with millions of incredible species. These species keep our planet functioning by providing us with clean air and water, food, climate regulation, and spectacular natural beauty. Imagine a world without clean water to drink, the bright colors of spring flowers, plentiful fish stocks and fruitful crops, the sweet morning calls of migratory birds and the industrious engineering of ants.

Scientists have documented and described over 1.75 million species on our planet but they estimate that there are as many as five to 30 million more yet to be discovered. Conservation International (CI) is working deep in the world’s rainforests, savannahs, mountains, rivers and oceans to uncover and identify them.

We can only imagine what these species are. Most of the species yet to be discovered are tiny, from microscopic bacteria to elusive insects. But scientists keep finding species new to science of larger animals as well: frogs, snakes, small mammals – even birds and the occasional large mammal! 

IN DEPTH: Get to know a few of the species we've found.

Yet due to the accelerating rate of habitat loss and degradation faced by ecosystems across the world, many may already be threatened with extinction – even before we have a chance to find them.

CI and collaborating scientists race against time to find, name, and protect these species. We scout the most remote corners of the globe to discover new life and document it. By giving these species a name we take the first step towards saving them.

The very first step in conservation of species is the knowledge of their existence. Unknown thousands of species may have gone extinct before we even had a chance to give them proper scientific names.
Since 1990, scientists working with (RAP) teams, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS), and CI field programs have been surveying and documenting species all over the globe.
CI's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) was created in 1990 to quickly provide the biological information necessary to catalyze conservation action and improve biodiversity protection.
Follow our progress to discover species potentially new to science.
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