Elephants are endangered

Conservationists issued a chilling warning this week telling New Scientists magazine that global wildlife populations are set to have fallen by more than two thirds of 1970 levels by the year 2020 – and there is no sign that declining wildlife numbers will slow down in our lifetime.

Researchers say mammal, bird, fish, amphibian, and reptile populations have fallen by 58% from 1970 to 2012. At the current rate (about 2% reduction per year), by 2020, the populations will have declined by more than 67%. This has prompted experts to warn that we are facing a global “mass extinction” for the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs.

Mike Barrett, director of science and policy at World Wildlife Foundation, said:

“For the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we face a global mass extinction of wildlife. We ignore the decline of other species at our peril – for they are the barometer that reveals our impact on the world that sustains us. Humanity’s misuse of natural resources is threatening habitats, pushing irreplaceable species to the brink and threatening the stability of our climate.”

However, Barrett said all is not lost.

“We know how to stop this. It requires governments, businesses, and citizens to rethink how we produce, consume, measure success and value the natural environment.”

Why do animals go extinct?

Wildlife populations are impacted by poaching, disease, over-hunting, and manmade changes to the animals’ habitat from mining, climate change, pollution, and other human activities. Below is a list of some of the animals that have recently gone extinct thanks to careless human activities.

West African Black Rhinoceros

West African Black Rhinoceros

Last existed in Cameroon. Extinct due to poaching (there was a high demand for the rhino’s horn).

Pyrenean Ibex

Pyrenean Ibex

Went extinct in 2000 due to over-hunting. Scientists tried to clone a Pyrenean Ibex in 2009 but it died from lung defects shortly after birth.

Passenger Pigeon

Passenger Pigeon

Once represented 25-40% of the bird population in the United States. Habitat was destroyed as humans cleared forests for farmland. With nowhere to go, Passenger Pigeons decimated farmers’ crops. Angry farmers began shooting the birds for food. The last Passenger Pigeon (named “Martha”) died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Quagga

Quagga

A subspecies of the plains zebra, it was hunted for its unusual hide. The last known Quagga died at the Amsterdam Zoo.

Caribbean Monk Seal

Caribbean Monk Seal

These cute little guys were hunted to extinction, exploited for their fur, meat, and oil by fishermen and whalers. Coastal development in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico destroyed their habitat. They were declared extinct in 2008.

Sea Mink

Sea Mink

Was once found along the coasts of Maine and New Brunswick. Prized for its fur, it was carelessly hunted to extinction.

Tasmanian tiger

Tasmanian tiger

Once lived along the Australian continent but as their habitat was destroyed by humans, they migrated to the island of Tasmania. They were often shot and trapped by the locals. They were last seen in the 1940’s.

Tecopa Pupfish

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Oddly, the Tecopa Pupfish lived in the Mojave desert in California, surviving in waters as warm as 108 degrees. Human development left their habitat unsurvivable and they were declared extinct in 1970.

Javian tiger

Tecopa Pupfish

Went extinct in 1976 due to hunting and loss of forest habitat.

Great auk

Great auk

A beautiful flightless coastal bird that lived around the North Atlantic (Canada, Greenland, Iceland, British Isles, and Scandinavia). They were slaughtered for their feathers and driven to extinction.

Bubal Hartebeest

Bubal Hartebeest

Also known as the Bubal antelope, they lived in North Africa. They were hunted to extinction sometime around 1950.

Golden Toad

Golden Toad

Declared extinct in August 2007. The Golden Toad was driven to extinction by pollution and global warming.

Hawaiian crow

Hawaiian crow

Native to Hawaii, this beautiful species was declared extinct in 2002.

Spix’s macaw

Spix’s macaw

The last known Spix Macaw was seen in 2000. Their extinction is attributed to hunting, destruction of habitat, and the introduction of Africanized bees (aka Killer Bees) into their habitat (the bees raided their nests).

Liverpool pigeon

Liverpool pigeon

Declared extinct in 2008. The reason for extinction is believed to be loss of habitat.

Black-faced honeycreeper

Black-faced honeycreeper

Last seen in 2004, is believed to be extinct due to habitat destruction and global warming.

Baiji dolphin

Baiji dolphin

Valued for its skin (used to make gloves and handbags), it was last seen in 2002 and believed to be extinct due to overfishing, boat traffic, habitat loss, and pollution.

Holdridge’s toad

Holdridge’s toad

Native to Costa Rica, it was declared extinct in 2004. Its extinction is likely due to amphibian disease and the effects of climate change.

Alaotra grebe

Alaotra grebe

Declared extinct in 2010 due to habitat destruction. Only one photograph exists of the beautiful bird.

Pinta Island Tortoise

Pinta Island Tortoise

The last Pinta Island Tortoise, named Lonesome George, died in a research pen in 2012.  His age was believed to be over 100 years old.  The species was driven to extinction due to loss of habitat.

Canarian Oystercatcher

Canarian Oystercatcher

Once living on the Canary Islands off the coast of west Africa, they were declared extinct in 1994.  Only 4 specimens of stuffed birds exist in museums today.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

After loss of habitat (swamps) in the southern United States, the last definitive sighting was in 1943.

Mariana Mallard

Mariana Mallard

Habitat loss from draining of marshes for farming and homes, the last pair of ducks were spotted in the wild in 1979.  The last known pair died in captivity at Sea World in San Diego in 1981.

Dusky Seaside Sparrow

Dusky Seaside Sparrow

Once found all over the east coast of Florida, they were declared extinct in 1990.  The species died out from DDT pesticide spraying in its habitat.

Conondale Gastric-brooding Frog

Conondale Gastric-brooding Frog

The last of this species died in a laboratory in 1983.  Unusually, the frog swallowed its eggs and birthed them out of their mouth. The mother had the unique ability to shut off her stomach acid while carrying the young in her stomach.  Scientists had hoped to learn something about how to cure human ulcers from the frog before it vanished from our planet.

List of extinct mammals

Nearly 20,000 species of plants and animals are at a high risk of extinction. Mammals have faired far better than other classes such as birds and fish.  As an example illustrating the seriousness of the problem, below is a complete list of recent mammal extinctions.  Other lists of extinct animal classes (e.g. birds, amphibians, fish) are much longer.

Officially declared extinct

  • Broad-faced potoroo
  • Eastern hare wallaby
  • Lake Mackay hare-wallaby
  • Desert rat-kangaroo
  • Tasmanian tiger
  • Toolache wallaby
  • Desert bandicoot
  • Lesser bilby
  • Pig-footed bandicoot
  • Crescent naitail wallaby
  • Red-bellied gracile opossum
  • Nullarbor dwarf bettong
  • Steller’s sea cow
  • Oriental cave rat
  • Torre’s cave rat
  • Imposter hutia
  • Montane hutia
  • Galapagos giant rat
  • Cuban coney
  • Hispaniolan edible rat
  • Puerto Rican hutia
  • Big-eared hopping mouse
  • Darling Downs hopping mouse
  • White-footed rabbit-rat
  • Capricorn rabbit rat
  • St. Lucky giant rice rat
  • Short-tailed hopping mouse
  • Nelson’s rice rat
  • Long-tailed hopping mouse
  • Great hopping mouse
  • Desmarest’s pilorie
  • Bulldog rat
  • Maclear’s rat
  • Darwin’s Galapagos mouse
  • Gould’s mouse
  • Long-eared mouse
  • Pemberton’s deer mouse
  • Samana hutia
  • Lesser stick-nest rat
  • Indefatigable Galapagos mouse
  • Little Sawn Island hutia
  • Blue-gray mouse
  • Buhler’s coryphomys
  • Machu Picchu arboreal chincilla rat
  • Insular cave rat
  • Candango mouse
  • Antyony’s woodrat
  • Bunker’s woodrat
  • San Martin Island woodrat
  • Vespucci’s rodent
  • St. Vincent colilargo
  • Jamacan rice rat
  • Nevis Rice Rat
  • Sardinian pika
  • Marcano’s solendon
  • Puerto Rican nesophontes
  • Atalaye nesophontes
  • Greater Cuban nesophontes
  • Western Cuban nesophontes
  • St. Michel nesophontes
  • Haitian nesophontes
  • Lesser Mascarene flying fox
  • Guam flying fox
  • Dusky flying fox
  • Large Palau flying fox
  • Large sloth lemur
  • Jamaican monkey
  • Aurochs
  • Bluebuck
  • Red gazelle
  • Schomburgk’s deer
  • Queen of Sheba’s gazelle
  • Saudi gazelle
  • Madagascan dwarf hippopotamus
  • Malagasy hippo
  • Madagascan pygmy hippo
  • Falkland Island wolf
  • Sea mink
  • Japanese sea lion
  • Caribbean monk seal
  • Giant fossa
  • Dusicyon avus
  • Pere David’s deer
  • Scimitar onyx

Believed to be extinct but not officially declared

  • Gray Ox
  • Garrido’s hutia
  • Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat
  • Christmas Island shrew
  • Wimmer’s shrew
  • De Winton’s golden mole
  • Wondiwoi tree-kangaroo
  • San Quintin kangaroo rat
  • Whitefin dolphin
  • Zuniga’s dark rice rat
  • Dwarf hutia
  • San Felipe hutia
  • One-stripped possum
  • Gloomy tube-nosed bat
  • New Zealand greater short-tailed bat
  • Ethiopian water mouse
  • Lord Howe long-eared bat
  • Angel Island mouse
  • Puebla deer mouse
  • Telefomin cuscus
  • new Guinea big-eared bat
  • Christmas Island pipistrelle
  • Montane monkey-faced bat
  • Aru flying fox
  • Vanikoro flying fox
  • Emma’s giant rat
  • Emperor rat
  • Guadalcanal rat
  • Central rock rat
  • Malabar civet
  • Bouvier’s red colobus
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