The loss of any species is a tragedy, but the recent compilation of species lost to extinction in 2023 highlights the urgent need for action. As the numbers show, the rate of extinction is growing at an alarming rate, with up to 150 species going extinct every day.
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With only about a fifth of existing species discovered and described, the true extent of the biodiversity crisis may be far worse than we currently know. Climate justice action is a crucial element in delaying this harmful process, as is recognizing the interconnectedness of all species on Earth. With approximately 8.7 million species inhabiting our planet, we must act now to protect these irreplaceable forms of life before it’s too late.
#1 Splendid Poison frog ( extinct 2020)
The splendid poison frog, also known as the poison-arrow frog, was a vibrant and unique species native to the end of western Panama. Sadly, the population of this fascinating frog began to dwindle as a result of deforestation and habitat degradation in the region.
Human actions, such as logging and urban expansion, quickly contributed to the species’ eventual extinction. Even the construction and use of railways played a role in the loss of this beautiful frog. Despite its small size, the splendid poison frog’s importance in the delicate ecosystem of its native habitat was immeasurable.
#2 Bramble Cay melomys ( extinct 2019)
The Bramble Cay melomys was a small rodent species that called Bramble Cay home, a vegetation-covered coral cay situated at the northernmost point of Australia. Sadly, this species is now considered extinct, largely due to human-caused climate change.
The tiny island on which it lived, measuring only 10 acres and rising less than 10 feet above sea level, was a vulnerable habitat for these animals. As the sea level slowly rose and the tides became stronger, the melomys struggled to find food and shelter. Unable to adapt, the last known Bramble Cay melomys disappeared from the planet.
#3 Baiji Dolphin ( Estimated extinct 2020)
The baiji, or white-finned dolphin, was once a common sight in the Yangtze River in China. Sadly, this freshwater species is now thought to be extinct due to the impact of human activity. The use of fishing nets with hooks was likely the main cause of their decline, as many dolphins were caught as bycatch and drowned.
It’s interesting to note that the baiji’s name comes from its distinctive white fin, which is a unique feature of this species. While there may have been other factors that contributed to the disappearance of this dolphin, one thing is clear: we must be more mindful of our impact on the natural world if we hope to preserve the precious species that inhabit it.
#4 Pinta Giant Tortoise ( Estimated extinct 2012)
The Pinta Island tortoise was a majestic creature, known for its size and distinctive appearance. Unfortunately, it is believed to be most likely extinct, a fact made all the more poignant by the fact that it was one of the most recognizable animal species from Ecuador’s Pinta Island. The loss of this tortoise has been felt by scientists and nature enthusiasts alike, as it was an important part of the Galapagos ecosystem.
However, there may still be hope. While it is true that the last known Pinta Island tortoise, Lonesome George, passed away in 2012, scientists have discovered a population of tortoises on the nearby Isabella Island. Though partially descended from the Pinta Island tortoise, they are functionally extinct in their natural environment.
#5 Western Black Rhino ( Extinct 2011)
The Western black rhinoceros, once a majestic and awe-inspiring species, was declared extinct by the IUCN back in 2011. Unfortunately, it’s not the only rhinoceros species facing extinction. Recent years have seen the sad news of the northern white rhino’s and the western black rhinoceros’s extinction in the wild.
Today, the only hope for the northern white rhino lies in a tiny population of two individuals kept safe in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
It’s truly heartbreaking to lose such a species to extinction, especially for causes as preventable as illegal hunting. The West African black rhino’s tragic end was caused by poachers who hunted them down for their horns, which are coveted for use in Chinese medicine and as decorations in the Middle East.
#6 Alaotra grebe Bird ( Extinct 2010)
The Alaotra grebe, once a majestic and unique bird species, sadly no longer graces the waters of its endemic home in Madagascar’s Lake Alaotra and surrounding lakes. Experts have confirmed that the species has become extinct as a result of poaching and predatory fish.
It’s a stark reminder of the fragile nature of our planet’s ecosystems and the destructive impact of humans on the natural world. In this case, the death of the Alaotra grebe is particularly poignant, as it was a small and unassuming creature that captured the hearts of those who knew of it.
#7 Spix’s Macaw ( Functionally extinct 2000)
The Spix’s macaw, otherwise known as the little blue macaw, was once a beautiful sight to behold in Brazil. Unfortunately, this species has faced a tragic fate and is now considered one of the rarest birds in the world. With only 177 captive individuals left globally, this bird has been declared extinct in the wild since 2000.
It’s a devastating loss for nature lovers and conservationists alike. The Spix macaw’s beautiful blue feathers and delightful personality will always be missed, and it is a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet’s precious animal species before it’s too late.
#8 Moorean viviparous tree snail ( Functionally extinct)
The Moorean viviparous tree snail, Partula mooreana, was a breathtaking species of tropical land snail that once called French Polynesia its home. Unfortunately, this magnificent creature is now extinct in the wild.
These snails were unique in that they were able to breathe air and were terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Partulidae. It’s heartbreaking to think that we’ll never get to see these beautiful creatures flourishing in their natural habitat again.
#9 Pyrenean ibex ( Extinct 2000/2009)
The Pyrenean ibex was a magnificent creature, known for its size and impressive horns. Unfortunately, this mountain goat is now extinct, leaving us with only memories and a few preserved specimens. Although the exact cause of their disappearance remains unknown, scientists believe it was likely due to a combination of factors.
Poaching, disease, and competition from other animals are all thought to have played a role in the decline of the Pyrenean ibex population. As we mourn the loss of this incredible species, we must also learn from their demise and work to protect the other endangered animals who still roam our world today.
#10 Asiatic Cheetah (Functionally extinct since 1948)
The Asiatic cheetah, a subspecies of the cheetah, is on the brink of extinction. This Critically Endangered species is now only found surviving in Iran, with less than 50 remaining in the wild.
Once occurring from the Arabian Peninsula to the Caspian regions, it’s alarming to see how quickly the population has declined. As the Asiatic cheetah teeters on the brink of being functionally extinct, it’s a devastating reminder of the impact humans are having on these precious creatures.
Reasons for the extinction of species
Species extinction occurs when a particular species is consistently threatened throughout its entire range for an extended period.
Causes of extinction can be classified into several factors, primarily driven by human activities, such as land development, overexploitation, species translocations, introductions, and pollution. These anthropogenic factors lead to ecological and genetic impacts that increase the risk of extinction.
The five major contributors to extinction are habitat loss, the introduction of non-native species, pollution, population growth, and excessive consumption.
Conservation organisations like WWF, Save Animals Facing Extinction, and Endangered Species International are dedicated to preserving biodiversity and combating the threats to various species.
To combat the rapid pace of species extinction, individuals can take simple actions, including raising awareness about endangered species in their area, using recyclable and sustainable products, reducing water consumption, minimising their ecological footprint, avoiding plastic products, advocating for conservation policies, and volunteering to protect local wildlife.
What are the top ten extinct animals?
Several remarkable animals have tragically vanished from our planet. The Dodo, a flightless bird from Mauritius, fell victim to hunting and habitat loss. The Tasmanian Tiger, a marsupial carnivore, was wiped out due to human fear and persecution. The Quagga, a subspecies of zebra, was relentlessly hunted for its meat and hide.
Steller’s Sea Cow, an enormous marine mammal, met its demise within decades of its discovery. The Great Auk, a large flightless seabird, was hunted to extinction for its eggs and feathers. The Woolly Mammoth, a prehistoric giant, succumbed to a changing climate and human hunting. The Sabre-toothed Cat, a fierce predator, disappeared due to environmental changes and human influence.
What is the deadliest animal that went extinct?
The deadliest extinct animal was Anomalocaris, a fearsome marine predator during the Cambrian period, about 500 million years ago. With its shrimp-like body, large eyes, and sharp mouthparts, it was a formidable hunter in ancient seas.
What animal is extinct today?
Several animal species have been confirmed extinct. Among them are the Pinta Island Tortoise, with the last known individual passing away in 2012, and Spix’s Macaw, of which the last wild individual vanished in the early 2000s. The Bramble Cay Melomys, a small rodent native to a tiny island, was officially declared extinct in 2019. Additionally, the Po’o-uli, a bird native to Maui, has not been sighted since 2004. The Vaquita, a small porpoise found in the Gulf of California, is critically endangered, with only a few individuals remaining as of 2021.
The impact of human activity on the environment is a harsh reality that we must address. Every day, species around the globe face the possibility of extinction due to habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. The time has come for us to acknowledge our mistakes and take collective action towards sustainability.
By implementing environmentally-friendly practices in our daily lives and supporting conservation efforts, we can slow down the rate of extinction and create a better future for all species. The urgency to act now is crucial, and we must act as a united front to ensure a delay in the extinction of vulnerable species.
A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.