Recently Extinct Animals: There are numerous species of animals that have become extinct recently, depending on the timescale used. The majority of these extinctions are largely attributable to human activities, either through direct interference such as poaching, or indirect interference like habitat destruction.
Recently Extinct Animals
In the following section, we delve into remarkable species and sub-species that have gone extinct within the last 150 years.
Northern White Rhinoceros
The Northern White Rhinoceros, also known as the Northern Square-Lipped Rhinoceros, is a species of rhinoceros that was once widespread across central and eastern Africa. It is one of two subspecies of the White Rhinoceros, the other being the Southern White Rhinoceros. The Northern White Rhinoceros was declared functionally extinct in 2018, as only two individuals, both female, remained in the world. This was a result of decades of poaching for their horns, which are highly prized in traditional Asian medicine. Efforts to conserve the subspecies had been underway, but ultimately were not successful in preventing its extinction. The remaining individuals were taken into captivity in an attempt to preserve the species through assisted reproductive technologies.
Spix’s Macaw, also known as the Little Blue Macaw, is a species of parrot that is native to Brazil’s northeastern region. The bird is named after Johann Baptist von Spix, the German naturalist who discovered the species in the early 19th century. The Spix’s Macaw is a small and stunning bird with a distinctive blue-gray plumage and a black beak. It was once widespread in its natural habitat, but due to habitat destruction and trapping for the pet trade, the species is now critically endangered in the wild. Efforts are underway to conserve the remaining population through breeding and reintroduction programs. The Spix’s Macaw has also gained popularity through its portrayal in the animated film “Rio.”
Splendid Poison Frog
The Splendid Poison Frog, also known as the Splendid Leaf Frog or Rana Splendida, is a species of small, brightly colored frog native to the rainforests of Central and South America. It belongs to the Dendrobatidae family, which is well known for its highly toxic species. Despite its name, the Splendid Poison Frog is not actually poisonous, as its diet in captivity lacks the insects that provide the toxic compounds. The male frog is highly territorial and will defend its territory from other males, as well as court females through vocalizations and displays of aggression. Due to habitat destruction and the pet trade, the Splendid Poison Frog is now considered to be a threatened species.
The Baiji, also known as the Chinese River Dolphin or Yangtze River Dolphin, was a freshwater dolphin that was native to the Yangtze River in China. It was one of the rarest and most endangered species of cetaceans in the world, with estimates of fewer than 100 individuals remaining in the wild in the 1990s. However, after extensive surveys in 2006, the species was declared functionally extinct, with no confirmed sightings since 2002. The decline of the Baiji was mainly due to human activities such as pollution, overfishing, dam construction, and boat traffic, which degraded its habitat and reduced its prey populations. Despite conservation efforts, such as the establishment of a protected area and a captive breeding program, the species could not be saved from extinction. The loss of the Baiji highlights the urgent need for effective conservation measures to protect the world’s remaining freshwater cetaceans.
Western Black Rhinoceros
The Western Black Rhinoceros, also known as the West African Black Rhinoceros, was a subspecies of the black rhinoceros that once roamed the savannas and forests of West and Central Africa. By the early 20th century, hunting and habitat loss had severely depleted its population, and conservation efforts in the latter half of the century were not enough to prevent its extinction. The last confirmed sighting of a Western Black Rhinoceros was in 2006 in Cameroon. The extinction of this subspecies is a tragic loss to the biodiversity of the African continent and highlights the urgent need for stronger conservation efforts to protect endangered species.
The Passenger Pigeon was a species of pigeon that was once one of the most abundant birds in North America, with an estimated population of 3 to 5 billion individuals. However, by the late 19th century, the species was hunted to extinction due to its economic and cultural significance, as well as habitat loss. The last known individual, a female named Martha, died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon is considered one of the most shocking examples of human-induced extinction in history and serves as a warning about the devastating impact of overexploitation of natural resources.
The Pyrenean Ibex, also known as the bucardo, was a wild goat species native to the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. It was once a common sight in the region, but due to overhunting, habitat loss, and disease, its population began to decline rapidly in the 19th century. By the 1980s, there were only a few individuals left in the wild, and in 2000, the last known Pyrenean Ibex died. However, before its extinction, scientists were able to collect genetic material and in 2003, they successfully cloned a female Pyrenean Ibex, making it the first species to become “un-extinct”. Unfortunately, the cloned ibex died shortly after birth due to lung defects. Despite this setback, the cloning of the Pyrenean Ibex provided hope for future conservation efforts and the possibility of reviving extinct species.
The Quagga was a subspecies of the plains zebra that was native to South Africa. It was characterized by a unique pattern of stripes, with the front of its body striped like a zebra and the back half brown like a horse. However, by the late 19th century, the Quagga was hunted to extinction for its meat, hide, and perceived threat to livestock. The last wild Quagga was seen in 1878, and the last captive Quagga died in an Amsterdam zoo in 1883. In the early 21st century, attempts to revive the Quagga through selective breeding of plains zebras with Quagga-like markings have been made, but these animals are considered to be a different subspecies and not true Quaggas. The extinction of the Quagga serves as a cautionary tale about the devastating consequences of human overexploitation of natural resources.