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The Final Refuge of Our Long Lost Friends

Updated on June 18, 2016
The majestic Northern White rhino
The majestic Northern White rhino

Time to do a little sightseeing, ladies and gentlemen.

If you look to your left, you can see the northern white Rhino. Only three northern white rhinos exist on the planet after one died recently in US. None of this animal exists in the wild. Buckle up people.

And if you focus your attention down under, things only seem to be worse.

The now endangered Amur leopard.
The now endangered Amur leopard.

And elsewhere

Due to various factors, not the least of which is inbreeding, cub survival is on the decline in the Amur leopard population. There are about 30 of them left in the world. The same goes for the South China Tiger and the and the Indian tiger.

And not too far away.

And up here in the skies where the passenger pigeons once soared, it’s just an empty space. As recently as around 200 years ago they weren’t anywhere near extinction but commercialization of pigeon meet reduced their numbers drastically. The last Passenger Pigeon, named Martha, died alone at the Cincinnati Zoo at about 1:00 pm on September 1, 1914.

A shocking history to deal with.
A shocking history to deal with.

We've arrived at our destination.

We’re arriving at our destination and it’s time to drop some truth. For quite a long time we have adopted the concept that nature somehow finds a balance to correct all the wrongs brought on by our actions no matter how badly we abuse our environment. But put bluntly, we’ve arrived at the 11th hour.

The time to think and prevent was yesterday. The time to act is today.

We’ve finally reached that one point in the line of our species where we bid a final adieu to our allies and the forgotten faces from the past.

The innumerable species of animals and their numbers are at serious threat mostly because of anthropogenic(human) factors.

In the words of the famous American naturalist John Muir, there is a natural detachment from our Mother Earth. While several of us sit in out air conditioned cabins riled up with the challenges of day to day living, with all luxuries and amenities only a button push way, only a few do understand the repercussions of the human deed.

The value of a nation and of human civilization as a whole can closely be understood by the way it treats those who are feeble and voiceless. And it’s a sad truth that while the shouts and cries of our friends echo endlessly, we refuse to listen and act.

For too long, a major portion of humans have become completely disconnected from the present trends of animal extinction and the innumerable threats that such a decimation poses to us.

A skewed food cycle, drought, disproportionate animal numbers, reduced plant pollination, landscape loss are just some of the dangers that this loss of biodiversity poses.

A word from the WWF

To further substantiate this data, here is some analysis from WWF:-

  • The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.*
  • These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.
  • If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true - i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet** - then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.
  • But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true - that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet - then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year.

*Natural extinction rate means the rate of species extinctions that would occur if we humans were not around.

** Between 1.4 and 1.8 million species have already been scientifically identified.

Here are some of our friends we could lose in 2016.


The Hawaiian Monk Seal nearly vanished in the early 20th century – luckily, the seal was declared endangered in 1976. Despite this, there are only 1,200 remaining and the threat of marine debris, beach erosion and food shortages are still a major concern.


In 1996, the population of the South China tiger was estimated at less than 100. Scientists consider the animal to be functionally extinct, a title that may change to simply extinct in 2016. These cats, hunted by man, haven’t been seen in the wild for almost 30 years.

Some insight for us would be useful

Do you believe humanity has caused excess of damage by its actions?

See results


Despite having the longest average lifespan of any bird – 90 years – the Kakapo is still among the rarest. Once common in New Zealand, the bird has been obliterated by human hunters – today there are just 125 left.


The vaquita is the rarest marine mammal in the water, and it wasn't even discovered until 1958. Now it’s already facing extinction as early as 2016. Experts predict the animal will be gone by 2018. There fewer than 100 of them, and half the population was lost in the last three years alone. They often fall prey to illegal fishing around the Gulf of California, the animal’s only native habitat. Vaquitas are up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 120 pounds.


Giraffes aren’t usually cited as being at risk, but they probably should be. There were over 140k wild giraffes in 1999, now there are less than 80,000 – a 43% decline in less than 15 years. Poachers, climate change and loss of agriculture are all responsible for the decline in numbers.


According to the IUCN, the Sumatran elephant has lost nearly 70 percent of its potential habitat since 1985, this has resulted in conflicts with local communities that result in relocation or death. Combined with the rise in ivory poaching and things are looking rather bleak for the endangered elephant.


In lest then 10 years, the population of Hawksbill sea turtles fell by 80%, depleted by years of poaching and beach developments. Despite the decline, it looks like things might become stable as poaching has decreased by 80% due to a crack down by local authorities in the Caribbean.


The northern sportive Lemur has lost 80% of its total population in under 20 years, leaving just 50 individuals to carry on the species. Its biggest threat is from illegal hunters who kill them for their meat. It’s habitat spans parts of Madagascar and isn’t part of any official protected area.


There are only 300 Mountain Gorillas left in the wild. Found in Uganda, they are threatened by hunting and in recent years have fallen victim to armed conflict between rival factions, Over a quarter of wild Mountain Gorillas live in Virunga where their rocky relationship with people, including the ever looming threat of oil drilling is a real cause for concern.


China, which is home to the remaining wild population of fewer than 2,500 individuals, has since the late 1980s instituted more stringent habitat protections and poaching has all but ceased. Their status is still tenuous, though. Their range is fragmented and they are still subject to disease, occasional predation, and starvation when large swathes of the bamboo on which they feed completes its life cycle and dies.

The 11th hour dawns.

At this current alarming rate, the only place left for our fine friends would either be a natural history museum or as prints on a t-shirt or clothing line. People in the future would talk about how they once saw a lion to their children and explain what an elephant looked like.

So do the most of what you can and support organizations and take initiatives to keep our buddies alive and well, before their only refuge remains in the pages of history.

Otherwise, humanity would begin to eerily to fit Agent Smith’s perspective of humans.

We have the power to change this image and perspective. It starts with today, with constant hard work and compassion for our fellow beings. From stringent laws to putting a crackdown on illegal exotic trading and poaching, to donations, every step counts. Only then are we fit to call ourselves as humane as we say we are.

The supreme power of intellect has bestowed us with the potential of thinking above others but has also entrusted us with the responsibility of safeguarding those inferior to us and the several weak and feeble.

This is what we're turning into

And finally for the Agent Smiths in all of us.

Do you think humanity can ever recover and restructure from the after effects of these mass extinctions?

See results

A daunting look at the time to come.

A word from the eventual future.


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