Animals That Have Become Extinct in the 21st Century So Far

Specimen of the extinct Formosan clouded leopard in the National Taiwan Museum.
Specimen of the extinct Formosan clouded leopard in the National Taiwan Museum.

Since the establishment of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, ESA has been able to save 227 species. However, many other animals are extinct. Since the beginning of the 21st century, a total of 17 animal species is extinct with only two of the extinctions happening outside of the United States. The extinction of plant and animal species is primarily as a result of human activity. Population and economic growth, development together with little to no regards to environmental conservation have played a significant role in the continued extinction and the endangerment of plant and animal species.

Animals That Have Become Extinct in the 21st Century So Far

Western Black Rhinoceros

The western black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes) is a black rhinoceros subspecies that was declared extinct in 2011 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Genetically, the western black rhinoceros was presumed to have been different from the other rhinoceros subspecies. The rhino once inhabited the sub-Saharan savanna of Africa in large numbers and started to diminish with time because of poaching. The western black rhinoceros mainly existed in Cameroon but since 2006 efforts to find any individuals have become futile. The black rhino had a height of 4.6-5.9 feet, was 9.8-12.3 feet long and weighed between 1,800 to 3,100 pounds. The animal had two horns measuring 1.6-4.6 feet and 0.79-21.65 inches respectively. The rhino’s regular diet included leafed plants and shoots. The animal would look for food during the morning and evening and sleep or wallow when temperatures were high during the day. Due to the belief that the black rhino’s task had medicinal value people hunted them thus leading to their extinction.

Pinta Island Tortoise

The Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii) is a tortoise species that belonged to Pinta Island in Ecuador. Pinta Island tortoise was considered extinct when the last known species named Lonesome George died on June 24th, 2012. The Pinta Island tortoise rested for about 16 hours a day and primarily fed on cactus pads, greens, native fruits, and grasses. The animal also drank large quantities of water which were stored in their bodies to be utilized when the need arose. The tortoise is believed to have been able to survive for about six months without food or water. The extinction of the Pinta Island tortoise is believed to have been caused by goat immigration to the Island which brought about the detriment of tortoise’s food and natural habitat.

Formosan Clouded Leopard

The Formosan clouded leopard (Neofelis nebula Brachyura) is a subspecies of the clouded leopard that is endemic to the Taiwan Island. The Formosan clouded leopard was considered to be the second largest carnivorous animal in Taiwan after the Formosan black bear. Due to substantial logging activities to the clouded leopards’ natural habitat the animals retired to the Tawu and Jade Mountains. The Formosan clouded leopard was considered extinct in 2013.

Ways To Prevent Animal Extinction

Different animal species play different and important roles in the ecosystem such that if all animal species were extinct human beings wouldn’t exist on planet earth. A number of animal species face extinction due to environmental changes caused by human activities. To prevent extinction more protected areas need to be established especially for species that are more prone to extinction. Conservation of nature should be a priority thus deforestation and pollution ought to be taken as a serious matter. Poaching and the illegal killing of wild animals should be highly penalized to ensure that there are fewer reports concerning crimes on animals.

Animals That Have Become Extinct in the 21st Century So Far

Common Name Scientific Name Range Year of Extinction
Pyrenean ibex Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica Iberian Peninsula 2000
Eastern cougar Puma concolor couguar Notheastern North America 2011
Western black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis longipes Sub-Saharan Africa 2011
Pinta island tortoise Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii Ecuador 2012
Formosan clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa brachyura Taiwan 2013

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