Unfortunately, the list of extinct animals grows every year. Many of its causes have to do with the hand of man, the massive change of their habitats, and climate change. Many of these species were few known and other known species are on a red list in 2021.
What species have become extinct in recent years? Which animals are at the limit and could disappear in 2021?
Sudan, The Last White Rhino
Ami Vitale, a renowned photographer who covers important moments for National Geographic, was the one who was in charge of portraying the last photo of Sudan, the only male white rhino in northern Kenya that was under special caretakers in a reserve that protected him from poachers.
Sudan was the only 45-year-old male on this planet who, in 2018, because of his health condition, veterinarians had to euthanize him; and although he left two daughters, scientists are reconsidering the possibility of cloning him in the future. Undoubtedly for Vitale, seeing this species disappear was very difficult.
George, The Last Giant Tortoise
Another animal that left us on this planet was George, a giant Galapagos tortoise, officially extinct in 2012. George was nicknamed “The Lonesome George” and was the last male of his species, and although he was under a captive breeding program has unfortunately been unsuccessful.
George died of natural causes and his age was not exactly known, although it is estimated that he was over 100 years old. He was a native of Pinta Island, the northernmost of the archipelago, and was rescued in 1971. George managed to mate after 15 years of living with females of other species, but the eggs were not fertile.
Animals that Became Extinct in 2019
In 2019, 5 species of fish, 4 species of birds, 4 species of mammals, 3 species of amphibians, 3 species of reptiles, 1 species of invertebrate and even 5 species of plants have been officially declared extinct. On the other hand, many other animal species are already considered functionally extinct since they only live in captivity, and their release is almost nil since their habitats are being destroyed.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria, to declare an extinct species, it must happen that “there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died”, i. e., not only that there have been no sightings in several decades but rather that “continued attempts to survey the species’ known habitat have resulted in no sightings or evidence of its survival.” This means that a species can be extinct for many years before it is declared extinct, and also that it can reappear long after it is considered extinct. This is precisely what happened in 2019, when the mouse-deer (Tragulus Versicolor), a mammal from Southeast Asia, reappeared, which was considered extinct since 1990.
On the other hand, according to data from the IUCN, there are currently about 5,200 species in danger of extinction, which represents 26% of mammals and amphibians, 34% of fish, 20% of reptiles, and 14% of birds.
When looking for the reasons why there are so many species in danger of extinction, conservationists highlight the destruction and fragmentation of habitats as the main threat: human overpopulation implies a greater demand for land to cultivate and raise livestock, reducing the ecosystems where millions of animals live.