A Beastly Burden – Fourteen Extinctions of the 21st Century

7. Christmas Island Pipistrelle  Likely extinct. A tiny species of bat found only on Christmas Island, Australia. None have been seen since 2009.

File:Pipistrellus pipistrellus lateral.jpg Image Source,  Photo by: Mnolf, Location: Kauns, Tirol, Austria. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


8. Chinese Paddlefish/Swordfish – Likely extinct.

File:Psephurus gladius.jpg

9. Alaotra Grebe – Declared extinct in 2010.
Image source, By L. Shyamal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons  licenced under the  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


10. Yangtze River Dolphin – Declared extinct in 2006.

File:Lipotes vexillifer.png
Image Source. Author: Alessio Marrucci, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


11. Po’o-uli – Likely extinct, this Hawaiian bird has not been sighted since 2004, when only two known birds remained.



12. Golden Toad –  Declared extinct in 2004.
File:Bufo periglenes2.jpg


13. Japanese River Otter – Declared extinct in 2012.
File:Japanese otter.jpg I’m sad to say the only picture I could find was of a dead one.
Image source, By Hiroshi Kibe (photographer) [GFDL] http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

14. The Bramble Cay Melomys – Declared extinct in 2016.File:Bramble-cay-melomys.jpgImage Source: Government of Queensland, Australia, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection , licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia license.


Even if some of these animals, presumed extinct, reappear (this has been known to happen), the fact remains that they are incredibly unlikely to survive the century.

But it’s not all bad news! Yes, we have irreversibly altered the global climate and, yes, we have therefore threatened many species with extinction; but determined and dedicated human activity has also brought many species back from the brink. Giant pandas7, grizzly bears8 and white rhinos9, to name a few, have made remarkable recoveries from near extinction. While they are by no means in the clear, and conservation actions must continue, these examples should inspire us to act and protect the planet to which we owe everything.




  1. Biologicaldiversity.org. (2018). The Extinction Crisis. [online] Available at: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  2. Pimm, S.L., Russell, G.J., Gittleman, J.L. and Brooks, T.M., 1995. The future of biodiversity. Science269(5222), pp.347-350. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/269/5222/347[Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  3. Alroy, J., 2001. A multispecies overkill simulation of the end-Pleistocene megafaunal mass extinction. Science292(5523), pp.1893-1896. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/292/5523/1893 [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  4. Vié, J.C., Hilton-Taylor, C. and Stuart, S.N. eds., 2009. Wildlife in a changing world: an analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of threatened species. IUCN. Available at: https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/RL-2009-001.pdf[Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  5. Thomas, C.D., Cameron, A., Green, R.E., Bakkenes, M., Beaumont, L.J., Collingham, Y.C., Erasmus, B.F., De Siqueira, M.F., Grainger, A., Hannah, L. and Hughes, L., 2004. Extinction risk from climate change. Nature427(6970), p.145. Available at: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/83/1/thomascd1.pdf[Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].[Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  6. WWF(2017). How many species are we losing?. [online] Available at: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/biodiversity/biodiversity/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  7.  Christine Dell’Amore (2016). Giant Pandas, Symbol of Conservation, Are No Longer Endangered. [online] News.nationalgeographic.com. Available at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/pandas-vulnerable-endangered-species/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  8. NPS. (2017). Grizzly Bears & the Endangered Species Act. [online] Available at: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/bearesa.htm [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
  9. WWF. (2017. White rhinoceros. [online] Available at: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/rhinoceros/african_rhinos/white_rhinoceros/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

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