Till date, only 1.3 million species have been discovered by scientists which are less than 20% of all existing species. There are still billions of species that are yet to be discovered. But the truth remains that we probably shall never be able to know most of them.
Nearly 99% of all the species that ever inhabited the earth are supposed to have already faced extinction. The first few years of the 21st century were filled with new innovations and discoveries in the animal kingdom. In this span of time new species were discovered and a few were saved from animal species extinction.
But in the last decade a number of endangered species have been thrown off the precipice of extinction. Here are they:
Some species that became extinct in 21st century:
1. Alaotra grebe:
This species of grebe was known for its brown-and-cinnamon colour and resided in the Lake Alaotra in Madagascar. It was from this brackish lake that it inherited its name. In 1982, only 12 members of the population had been recorded and it decreased to two by the year 1985.
This bird’s existence was restricted to this habitat because of its small wings that prevented long-distance flight. It was declared extinct in 21st century – in the year 2010. There have been a number of hypotheses regarding the reason for their extinction. A few include habitat loss from expansion of rice farms, water pollution and lack of endemic fish to feed on. The use of fishing nets to cover the lake was possibly another reason for their extinction.
2. Pinta tortoise:
The last of the Pinta tortoise passed away in June 2012 at the Galapagos National Park. He was approximately a century old. These species had been subjected to over-hunting by traders, explorers and whalers alike. The artificially-introduced goat population of the Galapagos Archipelago had overrun the species of tortoises.
Scientists had already marked it as extinct when the last specimen of the species was discovered in 1972. Efforts of breeding turned out to be in vain. Finally the species became extinct the 21st century in the year 2012. Some hybrid tortoises of the species have been identified, which gives makes us hopeful that pure members may be found.
3. West African Black Rhinos:
According to scientific reports, there existed nearly a million rhinos of these species during early 20th century. 98% of their entire population had been wiped out in the period from 1960-1995. In 2011, this species was officially declared as extinct. The reason for such a drastic rate of extinction arises from poaching activities. Poachers hunted these animals for the sole purpose of getting their horns which were used as ingredients in Chinese medicine. Although it was a hoax, these practices claimed an entire population of rhino species.
4. Yangtze River Dolphin:
The Yangtze River dolphin (also known as Baiji Dolphin) marked the end of an ancient species of dolphins. This species had existed for about 20 million years and became extinct in the last decade. This dolphin only resided in the Yangtze River of China. The almost-blind creature was driven to extinction by a number of factors. This included water pollution, construction of dams, as well as a rise in traffic on the river. These factors imposed a hindrance to the dolphin’s sonar, thereby making it impossible to search for food. The disappearance of this species reduced the number of species of freshwater dolphins to only five.
5. Pyrenean Ibex:
The Pyrenian Ibex is the animal that has been marked as one among the four subspecies of Spanish ibex. The males of the ibex could be easily identified through their huge ridged and curved horns. It is believed by the experts that the male ibex grows a ridge for every year it completes.
Females of the species were similar in appearance to a female deer. Although no definite reason has been identified yet for their sudden extinction, hunting is definitely a contributing factor. The loss of grazing grounds was another contributing reason. The last female of the species became extinct in the last decade after getting struck by a dislodged branch.
6. Golden Toad:
This species of toad, also known as the orange toad or the Monteverde toad existed in Costa Rica. Once, it used to be quite a common species, although no specimen of the species have been sighted since 1989. By 1988 only two females and eight males could be identified which dwindled to a single male in 1989. The formerly endangered species was declared as extinct in the year 2007. Airborne pollution, global warming and chytridiomycosis (an amphibian disease) were attributed to be some of the reasons.
7. Japanese river otter:
The Japanese river otter was also declared extinct in 21st century. This animal inhabited the Ehime Prefecture in Japan. There existed millions of otter subspecies in the rivers of Japan but the last sightings had been made in 1979. The otter had been hunted on an industrial level for its luxurious fur. And as the rivers and lakes of Japan became industrialized, their numbers dwindled further. Finally, in 2012, the species was declared as extinct.
8. Formosan clouded leopard:
This leopard used to be a native species of Taiwan. This species was subject to incessant poaching due to its luxurious pelt. It is believed that large-scale hunting of its prey accompanied by the loss of habitat had led to its extinction. In order to thwart animal species extinction, searches had been conducted to find remaining members of the species.
But this was of no avail and the species was finally declared extinct in 2013. A development in Taiwan’s ecosystem has led to a debate whether species of leopards should be reintroduced in the forests. Since food is not a scarcity anymore, it might stop leopard species from becoming extinct in 21st century. Such research and reintroduction might be quite beneficial to ensure the survival of various endangered species.