In 2022, there were five animals that went extinct, marking a significant loss to the biodiversity of our planet. These five animals represent just a fraction of the species that have become extinct over the years, and their loss serves as a stark reminder of the critical need for conservation efforts. While some of the extinct species had been categorized as endangered, efforts to save them proved too little, too late. Factors such as habitat loss, climate change, poaching, and hunting have all played a significant role in the decline of these animals.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at these five species, the reasons why we lost them, and how we can prevent it from happening to other animals.
Animals That Went Extinct in 2022
In 2022, we witnessed the extinction of several remarkable species, each unique in their characteristics and habitats:
- Mountain Mist Frog: The Mountain Mist Frog, also known as Litoria nyakalensis, was a rainforest specialist frog species endemic to the Wet Tropics Bioregion in northeast Queensland, Australia. This species was usually found along fast-flowing streams with white water from riffles and cascades and was known for perching on rocks or overhanging vegetation adjacent to the water. Unfortunately, this species experienced very rapid declines and was declared extinct in 2022.
- Yangtze Sturgeon: The Yangtze Sturgeon is another freshwater fish that is endemic to the Yangtze River. The Yangtze sturgeon is a relatively large fish, reaching lengths of up to 3 meters. They have a distinctive long and pointed snout, which they use to search for food on the river bottom. This species is known to migrate upstream to spawn in the early spring. The Yangtze sturgeon is considered extinct in the wild and can only be found in captivity.
- Chinese Paddlefish: Also known as the Chinese swordfish, the Chinese paddlefish is a freshwater fish that is native to the Yangtze River in China. They are characterized by their long, paddle-like snout, which they use to detect and capture prey. It is also one of the largest freshwater fish species in the world, reaching lengths of up to 7 meters. The Chinese paddlefish was claimed to be functionally extinct by 1993, and then officially extinct by 2022.
- Coote’s Tree Snail: This snail is an endemic species of the Rurutu and Raivavae islands in the Austral Islands. Due to its extinction, our knowledge about this snail is limited and mostly based on subfossil shells found on Rurutu. These shells are the remains of the snail’s hard outer covering, which has been preserved in the island’s sediment and soil for thousands of years. The species’ characteristics are not well-known, and information about the snail is primarily based on subfossil shells. Despite the absence of confirmed sightings since 1934, it was believed that the species might still exist, but in 2022, the IUCN declared it officially extinct.
- Giant Atlas Barbel: The giant Atlas barbel was an endemic fish species of Morocco found in the Kasab and Tensift Rivers. Unfortunately, due to water pollution and unsustainable water extraction, the species suffered significant population declines and was last seen in 2001. The species was officially declared extinct by the IUCN in 2022. The precise reasons for its extinction are unknown, but the construction of the large Zerrar dam and heavy pollution in the Ksob River may have contributed to its disappearance.
These extinctions underscore the urgent need for continued and comprehensive conservation efforts that address habitat preservation and sustainable resource use to protect these ecosystems and the species that rely on them.
Factors Contributing to Animal Extinctions
Animal extinctions have become a global concern, with a significant number of species disappearing every year. Here are some of the major causes of animal extinction:
- Habitat loss: The destruction and fragmentation of habitats due to human activities, such as deforestation, urbanization, and agriculture, have caused the loss of critical habitats for many species. This loss of habitat leads to a decline in the availability of resources, such as food and shelter, which can ultimately result in population declines and extinctions.
- Climate change: Climate change is causing significant alterations in the natural habitats of many species. For example, rising temperatures are causing sea levels to rise, resulting in the loss of nesting sites for sea turtles. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns are also impacting the timing of breeding seasons and migration patterns for many species.
- Overexploitation: The over-harvesting of species for human consumption, trade, and other purposes has resulted in the extinction of many species. For instance, the hunting of rhinos and elephants for their horns and tusks has resulted in their populations declining drastically.
- Pollution: The contamination of natural habitats with pollutants, such as oil spills and industrial waste, is causing significant harm to many species. Polluted water bodies can cause the death of fish and other aquatic animals, while polluted air can lead to respiratory issues and other health problems for animals.
Importance of Conservation Efforts:
Conservation efforts play a crucial role in protecting endangered species and preventing their extinction. Here are some reasons why conservation efforts are vital:
- Biodiversity: Conserving animal species contributes to maintaining biodiversity, which is essential for the functioning of ecosystems. Biodiversity provides ecosystem services such as pollination, pest control, and nutrient cycling, which are crucial for human survival.
- Ecotourism: Many endangered species attract tourists, which can contribute to local economies. Conserving these species can, therefore, provide an economic incentive for communities to protect them.
- Ethical considerations: Many people consider it unethical to allow species to go extinct, especially when human activities are the cause. Conservation efforts ensure that we fulfill our moral obligation to protect and preserve species.
To prevent further animal extinctions, here are some general actions individuals and society can take:
- Support conservation organizations: supporting conservation organizations financially or by volunteering can have a significant impact on conservation efforts.
- Reduce your ecological footprint: Individuals can reduce their ecological footprint by adopting sustainable practices such as reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste, and using eco-friendly products.
- Advocate for conservation policies: Advocating for policies that protect endangered species and their habitats can be effective in preventing animal extinctions.
- Spread awareness: Educating others about the importance of conservation efforts and the impact of human activities on animal species can inspire more people to take action.
The year 2022 saw the extinction of several animal species, which highlights the urgent need for conservation efforts. Human activities, climate change, overexploitation, and pollution are among the factors that contributed to these extinctions. The loss of biodiversity puts the functioning of ecosystems at risk, and it is crucial to understand and address the underlying causes of animal extinctions.
Habitat preservation, stricter regulations on hunting and trade, and public awareness campaigns are some of the ways to encourage conservation and safeguard the planet’s precious biodiversity. The extinctions of notable species such as the Chinese paddlefish, Yangtze sturgeon, Mountain Mist Frog, Coote’s Tree Snail, and Giant Atlas Barbel demonstrate the impact humanity can have on vulnerable species.
Urgent and comprehensive conservation efforts addressing habitat preservation and sustainable resource use are necessary to protect these ecosystems and the species that rely on them.
Yangtze Sturgeon Featured Image (Top) by: Calliston3, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Chinese Paddlefish Featured Image (Middle) by: Alneth, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Giant Atlas Barbel Featured Image (Bottom) by: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons