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Things you need to know about extinct animals!

Things you need to know about Extinct Animals

What are extinct animals?

Extinct animals are animal species that have died out from cataclysmic events, evolutionary problems, or more often, human interference. The extinction of animals is an ongoing process, and rates of extinction have varied over time. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), a quarter of mammals are currently at risk of extinction.

Extinction can occur due to natural causes, such as changes in habitats or poor reproductive trends. Humans also speed up the extinction of many animals by hunting, polluting the environment, ruining natural habitats to make room for urban spaces, introducing invasive species to the wild, and destroying wetlands and forests. According to the journal, Science, current extinction rates are 1000 times higher than they would be if humans were not involved.

Extinct Animals Examples

One of the most famous species to go extinct is the dodo bird, a Mauritanian species that went extinct in 1662 after being overhunted. Other famous extinct animals include the Woolly Mammoth, which died out about 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and the sabre-tooth tiger, which also went extinct 10,000 years ago due to climate change and overhunting.

In the last century, nearly 500 species of animals have gone extinct. Passenger pigeons were once the most populous birds in North America but went extinct in 1914 after overhunting. The last Tasmanian tiger died in 1936 after the species was completely wiped out by disease and overhunting. Caspian tigers were from East China and were largely killed off by the Russian Army, with the last one dying in 1976. However, many scientists are attempting to revive the species, using specimens from museums in Russia and Kazakhstan.

In the last decade, the most famous animal to go extinct was the West African Black Rhinoceros. Found in southeast Africa, they were poached due to their horns, and although many conservation acts were implemented to preserve the species, the last rhinoceros was spotted in 2002 and they were declared extinct in 2011. The most recent species to go extinct was the Splendid Poison frog, in 2020. The frog was a species of poison dart frog, native to western Panama, and went extinct due to human activities, such as deforestation, habitat degradation, and the expansion of construction in forests. Another species that was estimated to be extinct in 2020 was the Baiji dolphin. The dolphin is thought to be the first dolphin species driven to extinction due to humans.

Gen Z’s Role

While animal extinction is a pressing issue, many members of Gen Z are stepping up and taking action. One example is Mimi Ausland (25), the founder of Free the Ocean, a company that aims to remove plastic from the ocean, an issue that kills millions of sea animals per year. Another example is Matt Ellis-Ramirez (22), a volunteer for the youth-led environmental activist organization, Sunrise Movement, which advocates for political action regarding climate change.

College campuses are also seeing an increase in sustainability interest, as more and more young people go to university. A 2020 USC survey found that 64% of undergraduate students were “very interested” in sustainability measures, and 33% of students actively participate in sustainability measures daily.

Further, a Pew Research survey found that shifting attitudes towards the climate change and extinction crisis tend to fall along generational lines. 76% of Gen Z believe that the crisis is one of society’s biggest concerns, and 32% have participated in at least one major environmental action over the past year, such as contacting elected officials. In contrast, only 23% of Gen X and 21% of baby boomers reported participating in these activities.

What can you do?

Re: Wild

Re: wild is an organization founded by a team of renowned scientists, in partnership with Leonardo Dicaprio, that helps conserve wildlife. They have created 47 conservation areas, conserved 100 actively threatened species, and work all over the world. They have multiple petitions on their website for people to sign, and they have recovery funds for different animals, such as the shark conservation fund, which you can donate to.

Endangered Species Coalition

The Endangered Species Coalition stops human-caused extinction by helping safeguard and strengthens the Endangered Species Act, which helps preserve endangered animals. They partner with grassroots organizations and use targeted campaigns to educate people, and enable people to make an impact on the political side of animal extinction. You can donate to them, and they also have email templates for people to write emails to government officials about animal extinction

There are other ways to help endangered species, without being affiliated with an organization.

  1. Visit or volunteer at national wildlife refuges.

  2. Make your home wildlife friendly: Even the easiest things, such as securing garbage in outdoor trash cans and placing decals on windows to avoid bird collisions, make an impact.

  3. Avoid herbicides and pesticides as they poison many animals, and degrade their habitats.

  4. Buy sustainable products and recycle

  5. Never purchase products from endangered species: Some of these include tortoiseshell, ivory, coral, and tiger fur.

Research Co-ordinator - Sachi Gosal

Editor - Vaishnavi Bhojane