This includes the hunting and exploitation to extinction of some 200 species of birds (apart from the well known flightless Dodo there is the Elephant Bird Ostrich & various Emus, Labrador & other Ducks, New Zealand & other Quails, Great Auk & Sandpipers & Snipes & Curlews, Norfolk & other Rails, Columbian & other Grebes, Bermudan Night & other Herons, Jamaica & other Petrels, Chatham Penguin, Negro Fruit & other Doves & Pigeons, Broad-billed & other Parrots & Parakeets, St Helena & other Cuckoo, Reunion Kestrel, Laughing & other Owls, Jamaican Poorwill & other Nightjars & Nighthawks, Coppery Thorntail & other Swifts & Hummingbirds, Saint Helena Hoopoe Kingfisher, Imperial Woodpecker, Stephens Island Wren, Wide-eyed River Martin, Nightingale Reed Warbler, Rocks Blue Flycatcher, Tasman Starling, to name but a few you probably have never heard of, but certainly will never now experience).
Many extinct mammals have resulted from their hunting by humans (sometimes for food but not always) and deliberate or inconsiderate destruction of habitat. Well over a hundred extinct animals, including primates, from more than a dozen categories. So you will never see for example a Crescent Naitail &numerous other Marsupials, a Darwin’s Galapagos Mouse & dozens of other Rodents, a Warty Pig, a Majorcan Hare, a North African Elephant, a Christmas Island Shrew, a Dusky Flying Fox & various other Bats, a Cape Warthog, a Sea Mink, an Atlas Bear, a Barbary Lion, a Bali Tiger, an Eastern Cougar, a Western Black Rhinoceros – all animals, big and small, lost.
Other species are already extinct in the wild and now only survive in captive environments – Hawaiian Crow, Socorro Dove, Barbary Lion, Scimitar Oryx, Mexican Wolf, and Wyoming Toad. Perhaps they will survive, but as a parody of true existence.
Our Oceans have seen destruction of hundreds of species and specifically marine mammals – whales, dolphins, & porpoises. We have to rely on the most part on fossil evidence of an earlier existence. But more recently, in the last 500 years, we have witnessed the demise of the Gray Whale, and the Chinese River Dolphin.
Then there is the Arachnids, or Spiders, characterised by 8 legs. A fascinating creepy crawly, but no great loss to society you might say or think? There might be thousands of spider species still around, but many have gone – the Black Widow spider is still with us though! Spiders have a significant ecological value nevertheless: they are ravenous and efficient eaters which keep vast populations of insects in check – far greater than other insect eaters such as reptiles & amphibians – as there are so many of them! In turn they also become the edibles for birds and fish – so they play their part in full in life and evolution, and are of great value to our environment (for instance spider web is used by the Hummingbird to build nests, birds which in turn are essential for the pollination of flowers, leading to food sources for other organisms – hence much of life’s survival is interlinked). More than a dozen species of spider are under threat, including the Great aft, the No-eyed Big-eyed, and the Mexican Red-kneed tarantula.
The extinction of some Butterflies however might touch a few hearts, as they are an iconic and beautiful form of tiny life which bless our summers – in the last few hundred years we have overseen the loss of at least three family sub-species with the final downfall in Britain of the Large Copper and the Large Blue and the Silver-studded Blue. The Scarce Large Blue has gone from France and the Clouded Apollo from Denmark.
Who is responsible for the destruction of such species? Who can take the credit for this, who delivered the ‘coup d’gras on these extinctions? Not me we hear the cry! Oh yes, it is indeed YOU! It is NOT those OTHERS who live in different countries, in far off lands and who don’t give a hoot about other life on earth. Oh no, it is mankind of course, and in particular those of us living in so called ‘civilised’ societies! We demand to exert a god given right to suck the life out of our Planet without any constraint, to satisfy our every perverse whim, to abuse the rest of life, to feed our faces to the point of gluttony and obesity, to live in absolute comfort, procreate to excess and overpopulate the World, and while we are at it pollute the Planet, cause climate change and destroy other species’ habitats (as well as create weapons of mass destruction that will inevitably and surely destroy all that we behold) – we are even doing our best now to destroy space and clutter our upper atmosphere and space with satellites and space junk. We are also a set of blind people dabbling with the complex & barely understood building blocks of life, thinking that we can be cleverer than any creator – oh yes the monster will be fashioned soon and the ‘genie let out of the bottle’ as the saying goes!
Man has determined to kill-off all the World’s elephants and rhinos to snatch their horns for making into trinkets or ridiculous & ludicrous medical remedies, or good-luck charms. We are intent on chopping down all the rain-forests, destroying wild habitats and causing unknown & uncontrollable climate change, for fuel or simply to make furniture and print unread newspapers. Humans are addicted to hunting wild animals – not for food but just for an apparent pleasure in ‘killing’ something. In Britain we even have the galling and bizarre state where the future King, Prince William, a military trained young man of 31 years thinks that it is fun to kill wild boar and stags using a powerful gun (how brave is that?) – his younger 29 year old brother Harry is also such a killing machine. So, we have William, a so called prince, who is un-embarrassingly President of ‘Unite for Wildlife’ organisation, but loves hunting and shooting as a killing recreation. His behaviour and example leaves wildlife campaigners in despair – he even had the maddening brass neck to return days later to the UK to lead a meeting at London Zoo on the slaughter of endangered animals [his mother Princess Diana must be turning in her grave).
So is the death and destruction of other world species all over? Don’t be silly – mankind has barely started! There are still twenty thousand creatures and plant species threatened with extinction – including some 25% of mammals & 15% of birds. Who is primarily responsible for endangering the species currently under dire threat? Mankind, who else! That is YOU & ME!
Apart from ‘rare’ species, conservationists categorise species as extinct, extinct in wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, and threatened. There are many thousands of species currently in these categories. Critically endangered, so dying out, species alone numbers about 20 thousand, counting amongst them the Javan rhino, African wild ass, Amur leopard, Asiatic cheetah, Bactrian camel, Mountain gorilla, Red wolf, Brown spider monkey, Sumatran orang-utan, Chinese alligator, Chinese giant salamander, Leather back sea turtle, , Southern blue fin tuna, as examples. We have more than a thousand bird species facing extinction, including the California condor, Spix’s macaw, Philippine eagle and in Britain particularly the lapwing and Scottish crossbill.
Man is seemingly intent on ‘destruction’ of all, including himself. Homo sapiens is Latin for ‘wise man’ (bit of a sad joke really?) and is the scientific name for the human species – the only surviving species of the genus Homo (human genus).
[Can you as an individual do anything to save wildlife? You think not? Perhaps then you can take heart from the lowly termite insect, which lives in colonies sometimes numbering millions of individuals – acting individually & independently but by co-operating collectively as a group in a team effort, they can build complex eight foot architectural tower structures and amaze scientists with their ability to find building materials & employ technical skills. They work and do some really complicated things, without a supervisor, or instructions, or without every one of them knowing explicitly what is going on. Their structures, compared size for size with humans, is larger than any human building!
Why then don’t you be like a termite on protecting our planet?]