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What's an endangered animal?

Animals that have become extinct This website introduces animals that are in danger of extinction. Here we take a look at some animals that have sadly already become extinct.

A little different from the extinction of the dinosaurs…

The dinosaurs became extinct, didn't they, Professor?

That's right.
But the story of their extinction is a little different from the problem of extinction today.
In the history of the world lots of creatures have become extinct. Dinosaurs are just one example.
The problem with modern-day extinctions is the pace at which they are happening. During the age of the dinosaurs only about 1 species became extinct every 1,000 years, but now the pace is closer to 40,000 species per year.
What's more, unlike during the age of the dinosaurs, many extinctions today are caused by people.

Animals that have been driven to extinction by people

Animals have declined as humanity has prospered

From the 16th century many people left Europe and developed newly discovered continents. At this time, many animals were caught for food.

Mauritius Dodo Columbiformes Raphidae Raphus cucullatus Body length: A little over 1m Former habitat: Mauritius (an island in the Mascarene Archipelago in the Indian Ocean)

As the Dodo had no natural enemies it lost the ability to fly. When people came to Mauritius in the 16th century, it was eaten as food. It was often attacked by dogs that the people introduced and became extinct in the 17th century.

Threatened further by human greed

People also hunted animals not just for food, but for clothing and prestige.

Bluebuck Artiodactyla Bovidae Hippotragus leucophaeus Body length: 185 to 210 cm Estimated weight: 150 to 170 kg Former habitat: Southern South Africa

A relative of the cow, the Bluebuck had blue hair. It was hunted in great numbers for its beautiful hide by Europeans, who came to South Africa in the 17th century, and it became extinct by around the year 1800.

Treated like a nuisance even though it was there first

When settlers in the new continents started farming, many animals were killed as pests for attacking livestock and damaging crops.

Falkland Islands Wolf Carnivora Canidae Dusicyon australis Body length: 90 to 100 cm Weight: Approximately 15 kg Former habitat: Falkland Islands (South Atlantic)

When the number of settlers in the Falklands grew, the Falkland Islands Wolf was eliminated as a pest that would attack sheep. Because it was unafraid of people, it was said to be easily killed with weapons or poison. It became extinct at the end of the 19th century.

An animal that became extinct even though people didn’t want to harm it

Some animals have become extinct even though people didn’t want to harm them. Even today, there are many animals that are in danger of extinction.

Caribbean Monk Seal Carnivora Phocidae Monachus tropicalis Estimated body length: Male 2.1 m Female: 2.3 m Estimated weight: Male 200 kg Female 250 kg Former habitat: Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean Monk Seal did not have good quality fur or tasty meat, and was therefore not hunted. However, as the Caribbean became a popular holiday destination, many hotels were built close to the sea and the seal lost places to look after its young. It became extinct midway through the 20th century.

Animals have become extinct in Japan too

Animals have been driven to extinction by people all over the world, and Japan is no exception.

Bonin Wood Pigeon Columbiformes Columbidae Columba versicolor Body length: 43 cm Former habitat: Bonin Islands

The Bonin Wood Pigeon is a member of the pigeon family that was only found in the Bonin Islands. Its numbers probably declined due to the introduction of cats and rats to the islands and deforestation. It became extinct near the end of the 19th century.

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Is the Japanese River Otter not extinct after all?

Professor, aren’t you going to talk about the Japanese River Otter?
I heard on the news recently that it is extinct now.

The Japanese River Otter became extinct recently, but its relatives still survive.
In zoology, the science of studying animals, the Japanese River Otter is classified as a subspecies of the European Otter. The European Otter still lives in other countries around the world and is not in much danger of extinction.
Of course, the idea of a "species" was invented by people in order to study animals. Just because a closely related species is still alive does not mean it was OK that the Japanese River Otter became extinct.

These links explain why animals are becoming extinct, and what we can do to help.

  • Endangered animals list
  • Let's study with comics! Why are animals in trouble?
  • What we can all do

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