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Virtually Extinct

Guest post by Oliver M

The Barbary Lion of North Africa is extinct. Are we ready for a world without any lions?There are a number of birds and animals throughout the world which are considered to be extinct in the wild, these animals now live in captivity in a desperate attempt to keep their species alive.

Many of these animals were killed for their fur, horns, as food or due to deforestation. Examples include the Barbary Lion from North Africa which has been extinct since the early twentieth century. It is believed that the last wild Barbary lion was shot in 1922, but there are now none alive in captivity either. There may be mixed breeds, where they have been bred with other lion species, but the purebreds no longer exist.

The Alagoas Curassow from Brazil: extinct in the wildAlagoas Curassow is a pheasant like bird that was found in northeastern Brazil. They became extinct due to hunting and deforestation. There are only a few dozen of these birds left in two privately owned aviaries in Brazil.

Another example is the black soft-shell turtle which lived in freshwater in India and Bangladesh. These turtles now survive in a manmade pond in Chittagong in Bangladesh. There is believed to be around 150 to 300 of these turtles in the pond which rely on humans to survive. After the black soft-shell turtles were made extinct in the wild, it is now believed that there is one wild population that still exists.

Hawaiian Crow is now extinct in the wildThe Hawaiian Crow is another of the extinct in the wild species which lived in the southern parts of Hawaii, inhabiting the forests. There were two known of in the wild which disappeared in 2002.There are now seventy-eight of these birds which live in two breeding facilities managed by the San Diego Zoo.

Deer are always popular for hunting and their horns can sometimes earn the hunter a fair sum of money, so it’s no surprise that the Scimitar Oryx from North Africa is extinct in the wild. These antelope looking animals have large horns, which caused them to be hunted to near extinction. The Scimitar Oryx were moved to zoos and parks throughout the world and by 1996 there were 1,250 in captivity.

Pere David’s deer from China is another of the deer that were hunted to the point of extinction in the wild. They lived in the marshlands grazing on water plants and grass, but now they can only be seen in captivity. They were illegally transported to Europe before the last herd was seen in 1865 in a hunting park which was later destroyed by flood. They bred in Europe and some were reintroduced to China in the 1980’s.

The Wyoming toad is one of the amphibians which are now extinct in the wild. You can only see them in the Mortenson lake National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming after they were placed on the endangered list in 1984 and considered extinct in the wild since 1991. A breeding program was set up in the early 1990’s in an attempt to save this rare amphibian from complete extinction.

Wyoming Toad - extinct in the wildMore and more animals are placed on the “extinct in the wild” list each year, zoos and parks start breeding programs to keep these animals from complete extinction, in some cases it is hoped that they will eventually be reintroduced back into the wild.

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Image credits: Wikimedia commons

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