You most likely have heard about different extinct animals, but do you know the cause of their extinction?
There is a possibility that you may want to argue that most of the animals were hunted for other purposes other than for food. But then whether you hunt or in any way kill an animal for sports, for its skin, for ivory or whatever, the animal can’t come back again, because it is dead and that is a minus to its population.
Read on to discover a few of the animals we have lost due to our thoughtless exploitation.
Extinct Animals List – Five Animals That Went Extinct Due to Human Hunting
Dodos which have long been extinct was a large flightless bird. It previously inhabited the forests of the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The Dodos are larger than turkeys and weighed about 23kg (about 50 pounds). They had an unusually big head, a 23-centimeter blackish bill with reddish sheath forming the hooked tip. Other features of these flightless animals that have gone extinct are their characteristically small useless wings, stout yellow legs, and a tuft of curly feathers high on its rear end.
The dodo was first reported in 1507 by Dutch colonizers, who described it as being a sluggish bird ‘unafraid of humans’. We guess its lack of fear caused its untimely extinction. It is said that sailors quickly decimated the dodo population as an easy source of fresh meat for their voyages.
The later introduction of monkeys, pigs, and rats to the island proved catastrophic to the languishing birds as animals such as hogs escaped to the woods, multiplied, and destroyed many of the dodo eggs. The last dodo was killed in 1681.
Sadly, very few scientific descriptions or museum specimens exist. The name dodo is derived from the Portuguese word duodo, meaning silly or stupid. In present-day usage the word dodo is applied to a simple-minded person unable to adjust to new situations and ideas.
4. Passenger Pigeon
One of the most recent extinct animal caused by ‘our doing’ is the passenger pigeon. Once famed for its massive migratory flocks that would darken the sky for days, the passenger pigeon was hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. Billions of these gregarious birds once inhabited eastern North America and were similar in appearance to the mourning dove.
As American settlers pressed westward, passenger pigeons were slaughtered by the million yearly for their meat and shipped by railway carloads for sale in city markets before they spoiled. Many persons became professional pigeon hunters who often raided their nesting grounds and annihilated entire colonies in a single breeding season.
By 1880 the decrease in numbers had become irreversible. Some efforts were made to breed passenger pigeons in captivity, but with little success. The last passenger pigeon, named Martha, died on Sept. 1, 1914, in the Cincinnati Zoological Garden in Ohio. The pigeon sometimes foraged in newly planted grain fields but otherwise did little damage to crops.
Its greatest legacy to man was the impetus its extinction gave to the conservation movement. A monument to the passenger pigeon, in Wisconsin’s Wyalusing State Park, declares: “This species became extinct through the avarice and thoughtlessness of man.”
The direct ancestor of modern cattle, Aurochs was a large, wild ox that once ranged throughout Europe except in Scandinavia and northern Russia, across North Africa, and in large parts of Asia.
Standing 1.8 meters (6 feet) high at the shoulder with substantial, forward-curving horns, Eurasian aurochs were known for their aggressive temperaments and were battled for sport in ancient Roman arenas.
Predators posed almost no threat to the aurochs; a lone bull could fight off several wolves. But the wild aurochs were hunted aggressively by humans because it competed with domestic cattle for food, and its occasional interbreeding with domestic cattle disrupted progress in the development of domestic cattle lines. The aurochs population also declined as its natural wild habitat decreased with the growth of both farms and cities.
As a game animal, Eurasian aurochs were hunted excessively and gradually became locally extinct in many areas throughout their range. By the 13th century, populations had declined so much that the right to hunt them was restricted to nobles and royal households in Eastern Europe. Roman general Gaius Julius Caesar described the wild aurochs living in the forests of Germany in 65 BC.
Charlemagne, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, hunted this animal in the 9th century AD. The meat of an aurochs appeared on the menu at a Roman Catholic abbey in Switzerland in the 10th century. For many centuries, its horns were widely used as drinking vessels. In 1564, gamekeepers recorded only 38 animals in a royal survey and the last known Eurasian aurochs, a female, died in Poland in 1627 from natural causes.
2. Great Auk
The great auk was a flightless seabird that bred in colonies on rocky islands in the North Atlantic, namely St. Kilda, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Funk Island off Newfoundland.
The body of the great auk was approximately 75 cm (30 inches) long; the wings, which were used in swimming underwater, were less than 15 cm long. The large black bill bore eight or more transverse grooves. The bird stood erect on land. It had a black back and head, a white front, and a large white spot between the bill and eye.
It was an easy prey; great auks were killed by rapacious hunters for food and bait, particularly during the early 1800s. Enormous numbers were captured, the birds often being driven up a plank and slaughtered on their way into the hold of a vessel.
The last known specimens were killed in June 1844 at Eldey island, Iceland, for a museum collection. About 80 great auks and a like number of their eggs are preserved in museums. The nearest living relatives are the razor-billed auks, about 40 cm long.
1. Woolly Mammoth
Of the number of well-preserved, frozen carcasses in Siberia, the woolly mammoth is most prominent. These gigantic animals went extinct about 7,500 years ago, after the end of the last Ice Age.
Although climate played a major role in their extinction, recent studies suggest that humans may have also been a driving force in their demise or at least the final cause. Extensive hunting and stresses of a warming climate are a lethal combination, and it seems even the mighty mammoth could not withstand the human appetite in a changing world.
In 1999 scientists working in Siberia recovered the complete remains of a woolly mammoth embedded in frozen mud containing plants and insects that lived 20,000 years ago. Using a helicopter, the scientists transported the specimen to an ice cave about 300 km (200 mi) away. Scientists plan to slowly thaw their find and perform tests on the remains to identify the reason the animal died. They also plan to study the plants and insects found in the frozen mud encasing the carcass to learn more about the environment the animal lived in.
Endangered animals list: Animals that are going extinct
While we’re still worried about the huge list of animals that have gone extinct, humans are still working on increasing the list. Governments, NGOs are working tirelessly to curb this menace of needless hunting for food or their valuable parts. For instance, the list of endangered and almost extinct animals is worrisome as it includes the likes of the Tiger, Pangolin, Rhinos, Sumatran Elephants, Sea Turtles, Orangutans and more.