• Dailan Evans, Rove McManus and David Quirk dress up as endangered Australian animals. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
An new startup is challenging Australians to get daring and ridiculous to help endangered animals like the bilby, manta ray and bandicoot.
Alyssa Braithwaite

30 Sep 2016 - 11:13 AM  UPDATED 30 Sep 2016 - 11:13 AM

Saving wildlife on the brink of extinction is not usually a laughing matter, but a new Australian startup is changing that.

Edge Pledge is a web-app which raises money for threatened wildlife by getting people to push themselves out of their comfort zone in unique and fun ways, including eating bugs, growing a mullet hairstyle, wearing underpants on the outside, or riding a horse blindfolded.

Users nominate three challenges they would be willing to undertake to help save a particular animal. It is then up to family, friends and fans to vote - by pledging a donation - for the challenge they'd like to see completed.

Comedians including Tommy Little, Rove McManus, Cal Wilson, Tegan Higginbotham and Claire Hooper are backing the cause, starring in videos as some of Australia's endangered wildlife.

Edge Pledge is the brainchild of environmental scientist Sam Marwood, who spent 12 years working for the Victorian government in policy, planning and management, before quitting his job to devote himself to the startup.

"Whenever I talk to friends at dinner parties about the environment, the conversation doesn't go for very long because it's a bit overwhelming and boring," Marwood tells SBS Science.

"So we want to put a bit of a fun spin on the environment and show people they can do something tangible. We love the idea of having a bit of fun at the environment's expense, which doesn't happen very often at all."

So far almost 100 people have pushed themselves to take up a challenge, helping Edge Pledge to raise about $27,000 in its first six weeks of operation.

While Marwood hopes to spread Edge Pledge internationally in the future, right now the focus is on the often overlooked Australian animals that are facing extinction.

Australia has lost 30 mammals since European settlement, and more than 1,700 native Australian animals and plants are officially on the brink of extinction. 

"When you think about extinction you probably think about lions and elephants," he says. "But there's quolls and bandicoots that are local that we don't really think about. So we want to get locals to support local wildlife." 

Tasmanian devil

Marwood's aim is to make Edge Pledge like "Movember for the environment", and his own Edge Pledge entry has raised $1645 to support the Manta Ray.

But now he must get a nose ring - a prospect that inspires nervous laughter from the father-to-be.

"We're one month away from our first child and I'm a bit worried I'll have a nose ring in all the baby photos," he laughs. "But it's all for a good cause." 

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