Species Declared Extinct in 2016
If you thought this past year was hard on us humans with war, terrorism, and political chaos/ embarrassment, it was nothing compared to the sadness the natural world has felt with the declaration of more extinctions.
The following are just a sampling of some of the species we have officially lost in 2016.
San Cristobal Vermillion Flycatcher
The islands where Darwin witnessed evolution are not immune to extinction. It looks like this poor flycatcher could not evolve quick enough to fight the effects of man and introduced rats to the islands. Let us hope the islands don’t lose anymore.
Barbados Racer Snake
It has most likely been extinct for a long time since the last time it was seen was over 50 years ago. It has only now however been officially declared extinct. Its downfall due to the introduction of the mongoose.
Nullarbor Dwarf Bettong & Desert Bettong
Sadly we had to say goodbye to these two adorable creatures. Thankfully efforts are underway to save and reintroduce existing species of bettongs such as the Eastern bettong which is being reintroduced to the Australian Capital Territory via the Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary.
Tiger- Extinct in Cambodia
Having not been seen in the past 10 years the tiger was officially declared non existent in Cambodia this past year. That said, tiger populations are stable or increasing in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China.
An estimated 3,900 tigers remain in the wild, especially as a tiger gives birth to a live litter, usually comprising three or four cubs. Tiger mothers won’t leave their cubs unattended for the first two months, much like humans (for human parenting though visit whyienjoy.com).
Addax- Functional Extinction
Once abundant across Northern Africa, the Addax antelope has seen its numbers drastically reduced mostly in part to poaching to the point it has been declared functionally extinct. This means its population has become so low in the wild that it no longer plays a role in its ecosystem’s functionality. With just a handful of individuals known to still exist, it will only be able to be witnessed in zoos. Its captive population holds strong and efforts are already underway to reintroduce it to Morocco and Tunisia.
The list of extinctions goes on to include at least a dozen other birds species as well as frogs, beetles, rodents, and much more. Many of these species get no recognition as they are not as prominent as tigers or elephants. Each species however plays an important role in maintaining balance in an ecosystem.
There are likely more extinctions in 2016 than we know about and hope remains for the possibility of rediscovering lost species such as these recent losses and animals like the Tasmanian Tiger. Even if rediscovery does occur however, numbers will no doubt be too low to exist much longer.
Once an animal goes extinct from the wild it in my opinion should be declared extinct. An animal in captivity is mainly a display object or to make us feel as though we are attempting to save a species. When it gets to the point where we need to capture and place a species in captivity to keep it alive, it is already too late.
There will no doubt be more extinctions to come in 2017 and below is a list of what we stand to lose if we don’t act now. For many it is most likely already too late.
Northern White Rhino
With only 3 left on earth, all in captivity, we will no doubt lose this majestic creature soon.
The most endangered marine mammal in the world, this porpoise may be gone before we ever even get to fully study it. It was only discovered around 50 years ago and may be gone in the next year or so.
We may only have a few years left to see this rarest of the cats with only a few dozen left.
Rarely photographed or even seen, the saola lives in Vietnam and Laos but may not for much longer. It was one of the great mammal discoveries of the 20th century and one of the very rare instances where a large mammal is discovered in this day and age.
Saoloa Photograph by: Global Wildlife Conservation