Today is April 22. From Google Doodle to Facebook updates, from special events in schools, colleges and probably even your neighborhood association, everyone is talking about Earth Day.
Yes, it is a day of celebration, a designated day when people in more than 192 countries around the world show their commitment to protecting the environmental. There is much to celebrate – the first decade of this century was full of discoveries about the animal kingdom. Discovery of new species, path breaking research on animals, as well as some species being saved from the brink of extinction.
But, the question remains, can we ever look towards the future if we do not recognize the mistakes of our past? Today, as we renew our commitment to the earth and all our fellow creatures, let us also remember a few of the species which have died out in the last 15 years.
1.The golden toad: Also known as the Montverde toad or the orange toad, this species lived only in the Montverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in Costa Rica. Not a single specimen has been sighted since 1989 though this was once a common species. Their breeding sites were well-known and closely watched. In 1988, eight males and two females could be found, and in 1989, only a single male was located. Extensive searches since then have failed to locate another golden toad and the species was declared extinct in August 2007. Airborne pollution and global warming is thought to have contributed contributed to the species’ demise.
2.The Baiji dolphin: The last documented sighting of China’s Baiji Dolphin was in 2002. Though the species is still listed as critically endangered, scientists think it may already be extinct. In 2006, scientists traveled up the Yangtze River for more than 2,000 miles but were unable to detect any surviving dolphins. It is thought that the Baiji Dolphin population has declined because of a combination of overfishing, boat traffic, habitat loss, pollution and poaching.
3. Spix’s macaw: Remember the 2011 animation film, Rio? Though Blue and Jewel, the main characters were referred to as Blue Macaws in the film, the species is actually known Spix’s Macaws. As of today, 71 of these gorgeous birds are known to exist in captivity. But, the last known bird in the wild disappeared in 2000 and no others are known to remain. The species’ current listing is “critically endangered” instead of “extinct in the wild”. This is because all areas of potential habitat have not yet been thoroughly surveyed. The Spix’s macaw population is supposed to have died out because of hunting and trapping, habitat destruction and the introduction of Africanized bees, or “killer bees,” which compete for nesting sites.