A project illustrating various extinct species from all over the world, lost forever as a result of overhunting, pollution, poaching, global warming, and deforestation. This series is a study of animals that are forever lost.
THE WEST AFRICAN BLACK RHINO
Once native to central and western Africa, these creatures were the rarest of the black rhino subspecies. They were hunted for their horns, which were believed to hold medicinal properties in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine. Industrial agriculture also affected them, as it cleared away their natural habitats and they were seen as pests to farmers. After an epidemic of sport hunting and poaching around the 1970s, these creatures that once roamed the African savannas for centuries, began to swiftly disappear. Approximately 96% of Western Black Rhinos were slaughtered between 1970 - 1992. Over a decade passed with no sightings, and in 2013 they were declared extinct.
THE JAPANESE SEA LION
Japanese sea lions made their home in the waters of Japan and Korea. Unlike most sea lions, they spent most of their time in cave systems rather than remainging out in the open to graze. They were not killed for their meat, as it was reported to have a terrible taste, but for their blubber to make oil and to allow fisherman to have more access to fish. It was also believed that they were taken out of their natural habitat and placed in circuses as entertainment. The last sighting of a Japanese sea lion was reported in the 1970s but many believe it was a Californian sea lion, as they have a similar appearance.
THE FALKLAND ISLANDS WOLF
The Falkland Islands Wolf, also known as the Warrah, was the only native land mammal of the Falkland Islands. Darwin feared that the fearlessness and docile nature of these wolves might lead to their extinction, and shortly after the islands were discovered by fur traders, their numbers began to decline. It was said that trappers held piece of meat in one hand and a knife in the other, and lured the animals to their demise. The last Falkland Islands Wolf was thought to have been killed in 1876, and it is the first known canid to have become extinct.
THE GOLDEN TOAD
Discovered in 1964, Golden Toads were once native to only a small part of the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica. It was the only known toad species to have a bright golden color instead of neutral brown or grey. The last sighting of a Golden Toad was in 1988 and they were declared extinct three years later. The reason for their extinction is still unclear, but most believe their extinction was a result of deforestation and other types of human activity. Climate change could have heavily affected their numbers as their moist skin is sensitive to pollution, ultraviolet radiation, fungus, and pesticides.
THE GREAT AUK
This flightless seabird once lived on the rocky islands off North Atlantic coasts. Completely defenseless, they were easy prey to hunters that slaughtered their numbers for food, oil, and used their valuable down feathers to make pillows. As the species lost numbers, specimen collecting played a large part of their extinction. The last known specimens were a male and female found incubating a single egg, killed in the summer of 1844 in Iceland. Both adults were caught and strangled, and the egg was smashed under a boot during the fisherman’s attempt to capture both birds.
THE BARBARY LION
As the largest of the lion subspecies, they once dominated parts of northern Africa. They are heavier and have longer torsos than African lions, with their famous dark manes extending over their shoulders and under their belly. Thousands of Barbary lions were imported through the Roman Empire to fight gladiators to the death in the Coliseum for six centuries. They were also kept by sultans and kings of Morocco, other north African nations and royalty, and even spent some time at the Tower of London. They survived for some time in captivity but have been declared extinct around 1922. Some argue they have survived through hybrids of lions from sub-Saharan Africa in captivity.
THE CAROLINA PARAKEET
This handsome parrot species was once native the eastern part of the United States. It’s colorful feathers were in high demand to make ladies’ hats, and they were killed in large numbers because farmers considered them pests. These birds also had a habit of gathering in the location birds of their species were killed or wounded, unfortunately, making them easy targets. Around 1939 they were declared extinct, but there are theories they were smuggled and bred outside of the country. These odds are unlikely.