Tuesday, April 4, 2017
5 Animals That Have Gone Extinct In The Past 50 Years
The rise of industrial civilization over the last few hundred years has been accompanied by the extinction of a truly vast number of different animals (as well as plant, fungi, etc) species. While going over all such extinctions would be an impossible thing to do in a single article, it’s probably worth highlighting some of the extinctions here in order to bring more eyes to the issue.
People being how they are, I’m going to focus here on some of the more charismatic (to the eyes of a human) and immediately recognizable of the animal species that have gone in extinct in recent times. With that said, here are 5 animals that have gone extinct in the past 50 years:
Baiji River Dolphin
The Baiji River Dolphin was a species of freshwater River dolphin native only to the Yangtze River in China. The animal has been “functionally extinct” since at least 2006, when a scientific population survey turned up no survivors.
Considering that the species (and/or closely related ones) has been around for literally tens of millions of years, the rapid destruction of population numbers due to industrial activity represents quite a remarkable event. It really drives home the point of just how environmentally and ecologically destructive modern industrial activity has been. And, for that matter, will continue to be as the arc that began several centuries ago continues to complete itself — and the last industrially useful (economically speaking) fuels become increasingly scarce, bringing about the intensifying exploitation of still remaining resources.
The species was a fairly large one for a dolphin — measuring between 7.5-9 feet in length, and weighing up to 500 lbs. Lifespan in the wild was known to exceed 24 years. The Baiji River Dolphin could reach swimming speeds of up 37 miles per hour.
Traditional stories of the region described the Baiji River dolphin as the reincarnation of a princess who had been drowned by her family for refusing to marry a man that she did not love.
Western Black Rhinoceros
Hunting/poaching put an end to that though — and the population declined rapidly throughout the 20th century, from over a million individuals at the beginning of the century to…. zero, now. Considering that the species emerged 7-8 million years ago, it had been doing pretty well — not well enough to deal with overexploitation by its competitors home sapiens, though, apparently.