10 Animals Driven to Extinction by Humans
Since the industrial revolution in the middle of the 18th century, the extinction of earth’s various species due to the impact of human activities has become increasingly prominent. Many beautiful animal species have disappeared forever. The list of endangered species includes a quarter of mammals, more than a thousand species of birds, and tens of thousands of plants.
Sustainable living is an important part of life and it is important that any action taken by humans is done consciously with responsibility. Continents are no longer shifting, and the demise of any species will be a tragedy that shouldn’t occur if resources are deployed effectively.
Mammals going extinct is a very rare event and might even occur only once a millennium. Yet, we are not living in an era that is without drastic change and issues. The rate of biological extinction today is gauged to be hundreds or even thousands of times more than previous eras. The last mass extinction was due to asteroids, and the causes of biological extinction today are attributed to a variety of reasons: logging, poaching, pathogens, climate change, overfishing, ocean acidification, and so on. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some beloved animals that once walked the earth before being driven to extinction.
10 species of animals that have driven to extinction:
Our planet has always been inhabited by relatively large creatures at different times in history, yet as time has gone on, these titans have vanished from sight. A large, fierce, and perhaps most peculiar animal would be the mammoth. The extinction of the mammoth happened at a time that is far away from modern times but there are lessons to be learned. Taking a closer look, we can identify just how this majestic animal was driven to extinction due to humans.
Hunting Mammoth as food was common, their fur, bones and skin all served purpose. It could be said that at the time, their population faced no struggle for survival. Yet, the question remains as to how a primitive and relatively small human population could drive these ginormous animals to extinction?
The answer lies within some basic calculations: An elephant's pregnancy period is 22 months, and the baby elephants will not be able to reproduce until their teens, that’s a whopping decade of life before they reach sexual maturity. Their sturdy and large frames made them a hard target for most natural predators, and they continued to thrive in peace. This would all change however, when humans would walk the Earth in search of food, warmth and resource.
In the modern age, elephants and other animals that are generally high up on the food chain would be expected to survive with relative ease. As the human population explodes, hunting activities, loss of habitat and other events pose a deep threat to animals. The mammoth is just a single example of how humans diminished a stable population of gentle giants.
Dodo birds are one of the most famous species in extinction. As ancient dinosaurs before, when someone mentions the Dodo, it is symbolic of extinction. 1598, Dutch sailors first discovered the Dodo in Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean on the coast of Africa. Dodo birds were humungous in size and remained flightless. The hefty birds were almost one meter in height and weighed a chunky ten kilograms.
Dodos once lived on the island of Mauritius without any threat from predators. They lived in peace on the island and enjoyed a diet of various fruits, nuts seeds and perhaps even shellfish. Since there had never been any human activity in Mauritius, the dodo had no concept of survival when humans arrived. Dutch sailors found the big birds to be easy targets and would hunt them with mere wooden sticks. Humans and other animals transported on ships to Mauritius became natural enemies of the Dodo. Hunted by humans, destruction of their habitat caused by a foreign invasion eventually resulted the Dodo being hunted down to extinction in less than 100 years. It’s thought that the last dodo met its timely demise in 1681. Sadly, no preserved specimen of the bird was kept and it’s records are scattered through remains and drawings.
- Baiji（Yangtze River Dolphin）
image: In 2002, the last white beaked dolphin Kiki, who was raised in captivity, died in the Baiji house of the Institute of Aquatic Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Baiji, also known as the Yangtze River Dolphin, is a unique freshwater cetacean (aquatic mammal) in China. This dolphin resided in lower reaches of the Yangtze River. If you didn’t know, it’s the longest river in Asia and only bested by the Nile and Amazon river!
In 2006, the baiji was tragically declared extinct. It’s believed to be one of the oldest freshwater mammals in the world. Although the shape does not seem to be as streamlined as a dolphin, its sonar positioning system is highly developed and is ranked as outstanding in the dolphin family, even unparalleled: it can precisely pinpoint the location of fish in the water. Unfortunately, this very gift would be detrimental to the river dolphin’s survival. Pollution caused by travelling fishing vessels, container freight, and other human based activities made water conditions uninhabitable. The Baiji dolphin was highly sensitive to these changes and was ultimately intolerable, causing survival issues into eventual extinction.
- Great auk(Pinguinus impennis)
Why are there penguins in the Antarctic and not in the North Pole? In fact, in the northern hemisphere, there was once a kind of water bird that was good at swimming but could not fly, and looked like penguins. They were big puffins. From North America to Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, puffins have been seen everywhere. This bird is about 80 centimeters tall, has penguin-like thick plump wings but cannot fly, and is fat and round. In order to treat them as food and obtain their feathers, they are always the target of human killing. Around 1500, when European seafarers found abundant fishing grounds in the Newfoundland, hunting for puffins became more intense.
Like penguins, Great auks are excellent swimmers. This bird can swim astoundingly fast in the water. Also similar to penguins, Great auks live in the sea most of their lives. However, during the breeding season in May and June, they would hobble up the coast in groups, which exposing their weaknesses. In addition to food, great auk have been used as fishing bait, unplugged and shipped back to Europe to make pillows or women's fur hats, and even used as fuel. In 1844, the last pair of puffins were killed during the incubation period. Ironically, the reason why the pair of great auk were killed was that many museums at that time offered high-price for a great auk specimens to publicize the significance of protecting puffins.
- Caribbean monk seal
Caribbean monk seal has been found in the Gulf of Mexico, the east coast of Central America and the north coast of South America. Because their fat can extract seal oil, they are over hunted. At the same time, the food they need such as fish, shrimp, and sea creatures are becoming scarce due to human overfishing. The number of Caribbean monk seals has dropped sharply, and it was last seen in 1952, on the small island of Serana in the Western Caribbean, between Jamaica and Nicaragua.
- Domed Mauritius giant tortoise
This is a giant tortoise that lives only on small islands in the Indian Ocean. During the Geographical Discovery era, Mauritius was discovered by European colonists. Dutch sailors who came here first found that there were such large tortoises living on the island. They move slowly and are not afraid of people. They are very easy to be caught. They are huge in size, delicious in meat, and thick in fat. These are exactly the food supply problems for sailors. So in just over a hundred years, tortoises were captured and killed by sailors and colonists. Domed Mauritius giant tortoise was still found in 1845, but it has never been seen since.
Today, if you travel to Mauritius, you can still see a lot of giant tortoises on the island, but in fact this is not the native Mauritius giant tortoise, but Aldabra giant tortoise imported from Seychelles.
- Passenger pigeon
When European colonists first arrived in North America, the number of North American Passenger pigeons could have reached billions. It was once described that a migrating group of Passenger pigeons is like a river flowing in the sky. It takes up to three days for the entire group of Passenger pigeons to fly over an area.
Since the late 19th century, however, the number of Passenger pigeons has declined rapidly. At that time, with the development of the American population, the market’s demand for meat was even stronger. Many hunters flocked to the west to hunt travel pigeons. Tons of Passenger pigeon meat were loaded on trains and transported to various parts of the United States. Passenger pigeons were often captured as dining tables Food or minced as feed for pigs. In addition to hunting with traditional bows and arrows, slingshots and guns, hunters will burn down a tree. In this way, each tree can capture about a thousand Passenger pigeons. In just 50 years (mid to late 19th century), the number of Passenger pigeons has dropped from billions to only thousands. In 1900, the last wild Passenger pigeon was shot in Ohio by a 14-year-old boy.
- Ursus arctos crowtheri
The Atlas brown bear is a subspecies of the brown bear and the only bear in Africa. The distribution area used to be from Morocco to Libya, inhabiting the Atlas Mountains and adjacent areas. Atlas brown bears have brown-black fur, no white markings on the chest, orange-red fur on the upper abdomen, strong body, and thicker fur, but the muzzle and claws are shorter than American black bears, omnivorous, and mainly plant rhizomes and nuts food.
Atlas is close to the Mediterranean, where the climate is humid and the forest is vast, providing a continuous living space for brown bears and other wild animals. Atlas brown bears have been devastated by humans because of their delicious meat and wide range of fur. Kill, skin and meat were shipped back to the European market for sale. The last recorded Atlas brown bear was hunted in the Rif Mountains of Morocco in the 1870s. Since then, no Atlas brown bear has ever been found. Since then, this kind of bear Lei who has lived in North Africa for thousands of years has been declared extinct by humans, and the African continent has no more bears.
- Javan tiger Panthera tigris sondaica
It is a tiger that once lived on the island of Java, Indonesia. It has a length of about 155 cm and a shoulder height of about 80 cm. It belongs to a small tropical island tiger and is the second smallest tiger. Tiger's body hair varies in light yellow and orange-red colors. Their huge bodies are covered with black or dark brown horizontal stripes that extend all the way to the chest and abdomen. The hair underneath in that area is very light, usually milky. Java tiger males are 2.35-2.55 meters long and weigh 100-155 kg. Females are 2.1-2.3 meters in length and weigh 95-115 kg. During the one hundred years from the 20th century to the 21st century, humans have hunted Java tigers in large numbers because of their delicious meat, beautiful fur, and medicinal bones. In addition, the occupation of the Java Tigers by human agricultural production and the large-scale destruction of the ecological environment of the Java Tigers' habitat have further exacerbated the extinction of this species. In 1979, it was estimated that there were only three left. This year was also the last time that someone had witnessed a wild Javan tiger, and then there was no news about the wild Javan tiger. The last wild Javan tiger in the world is estimated to have died in 1982. In 1988, the Indonesian government frustratedly and helplessly officially announced that the Java Tiger had also
Extinct in the 1980s, this is the extinction of another tiger species in Indonesia following the extinction of the Bali Tiger in 1937.
- Japanese wolf
Japanese wolf lives on the islands of Shikoku, Kyushu, and Honshu. It is the smallest wolf species in the canis lupus family, with a length of about 1 meter and a shoulder length of 30 cm. Japanese wolves like to live in groups, usually only up to 20 per group. They are good at running and jumping, mainly hunting deer, hare and other herbivores in groups, and sometimes go to the stream to hunt some fish or eat the carrion of dead animals. The Japanese wolf likes to howl collectively in the morning light. At this time, the wolf's howl sounds through the valley, so the Japanese wolf is called the mountain god
In 1732, rabies transmitted by animals imported from foreign trade was introduced into the Honshu wolf population. This disease killed a large number of animals and made the Japanese wolf more aggressive to humans. As their natural habitats were deforested, their contact with humans became more and more frequent, and their aggressiveness led to their extensive hunting. Until 1905, the world's last wild Japanese wolf was in Higashiyoshino, Nara Prefecture. The village was hunted and killed, and this animal, once regarded as a "mountain god", could not escape the doom.
The book "The Sixth Extinction" states: "The disappearance of species is omnipresent: in the South Pacific and the North Atlantic, in the Arctic and in the Sahara, in lakes and islands, on top of mountains and in valleys .If you know how to find it, it is possible to trace the extinction event that is happening in your own courtyard. "In the ecosystem, all living things provide this world with greater or lesser value. Once there is some kind of ecological extinction, there will be a huge chain reaction. In the end, due to the disorder of the food chain, it will be us humans who are directly affected.