The tenacious animals that conservationists feared were extinct

The tenacious animals that conservationists feared were extinct

The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that wildlife populations decreased by nearly 70% in just 50 years.

Deforestation, human exploitation, Pollutionand climate change were the main drivers of the loss.

Yet hope is not lost. At COP15 biodiversity summit, which kicked off this week, countries are coming together to tackle such threats.

To prove the incredible resilience of our planet’s outsiders and highlight the success of ongoing conservation projects, here are the resurrection stories of some remarkable species once thought to be extinct.

Somali elephant shrew

Neither elephant nor shrew, these compact anteater-like creatures were supposed to have become off in the 1960s due to a lack of data. Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) had even ranked it among the 25 most wanted species after such a lack of sightings.

The researchers decided to investigate further nearly 50 years after a reported sighting in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa. They were intrigued by this revelation because their namesake was the only country they thought they had inhabited before the extinction.

Using a delicious offering of peanut butter treats, they were able to spot 12 of them living happily without any immediate threat to their well-being and hope to maintain that existence.

He has since thankfully been delisted and might even have taken his little paws through the Horn to Ethiopia.

Black-naped Pheasant Pigeon

The black-naped pheasant pigeon was last documented by scientists in 1882 – that was until 2022, images captured the rare bird in Papua New Guinea.

The new discovery was like “finding a unicorn,” said expedition co-leader John Mittermeier.

The pigeon lives only on the rugged island of Fergusson off the east Papua New Guineawhere the mountainous terrain and thick forest made finding the bird extremely difficult.

After a local hunter heard the pigeon’s distinctive call, researchers supported by the American Bird Conservancy set up camera traps and were “knocked out” to capture the bird on film.

Fernandina Giant Tortoise

This one took over a century, but was definitely worth the wait. In 2019, tortoise conservationists were thrilled to find the reptile’s feces in the Galápagos National Park after no signs of life since 1906.

The tortoise responsible was a female who allegedly roamed the island all the time. It’s a wonder how this was possible considering the Galapagos the island’s huge lava flows.

His age has no significance on mating prospects, as turtles can live to be 200 years old.

The director of the Galápagos Conservancy’s Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI) called it the “most significant achievement” of his life.

In 2022, scientists have finally proven that she is indeed a member of the species chelonoidis phantasticus – better known as the “giant fantastic tortoise” – which is said to have disappeared more than a century ago.

Lord Howe stick insect

These enormous ‘tree lobsters’ are believed to have been significantly affected by a shipwreck on Lord Howe Island in Australia over 100 years ago. Gangs of rats were released on the island without any control to stop them, almost eradicating the population of these rats. insects.

In an unexpected plot twist, the number of rats on the island rose very high with no larger mammals around to regulate them.

The number of Lord Howe stick insects dropped until they were finally classified as off In the 1980s. They were found thriving atop the trees surrounding Balls Pyramid, an island formed from volcanic remains, several decades later.

In fact, the reclassification of this particular species has not been without its challenges – scientists have argued that the differences between these stick-like creatures are too difficult to distinguish from similar species.

This story has a happy ending thanks to the Melbourne Zoo’s captive breeding program and genome sequencing of ancient museum remains. The Australian government now plans to reintroduce bring them back to the island.


The rediscovery of the coelacanth is considered one of the most important animal rediscoveries of the 20th century. Why? Because they preceded dinosaursthat is why.

Prior to its rediscovery, the only known existence of the coelacanth was through fossil records over 65 million years ago, at which time it is thought to have become extinct.

None of this would have been possible without the insight of self-taught zoological expert Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer. The South African A museum employee was often called upon to identify the strange fisherman finds and enlisted the help of Professor James Leonard Brierley Smith in doing so. They announced the news of its existence by telegram.

Much of his behavior is still a mystery to ecologistsbut we do know that they live a quiet existence at the bottom of the ocean and that the last survey estimated the population at 230-650 fish.

We now know that they commonly inhabit the waters of Indonesia too.

Caspian horse

There was a time when Americans thought the Caspian horse, a beloved starter breed for budding equestrians, was a historic footnote. They were rediscovered in the mountains of Iran by researcher Louise Firouz during her search for horses to accompany its new equestrian center for children.

She realized that they had used the land as a refuge so as not to transport the chariots of the wealthy Persians and Egyptians and made it his mission to create a breeding herd where they could thrive. They even got to experience his brief imprisonment during the Iranian revolution.

Luckily, it worked, and there are now over a thousand of them around the world.

Bermuda petrel

In the 15th century, it was said that more than a million Bermuda Petrel called the island their home. Given that the human population on the island currently stands at around 60,000, they would have been quite present.

After a long period of decimation by terrestrial mammals, their extinction seemed certain to the point that they were titled a “species of lazarus” – a type of bird so disparate that any increase in population would look like a return from the dead.

This comeback materialized in the 1950s by pure chance and has since been facilitated by the fact that these birds (adorably) companion for life.

A colonization project is underway on Nonsuch Island after the first set of birds was successfully printed. Tourists can experience them in all their glory on boat tours and incredible live camera footage of their burrows can be streamed online.

Black-browed talker

Two birdwatchers wandering through the rainforests of Borneoin Indonesia, couldn’t believe their eyes when they came across this long-extinct bird.

After some speculation in the world ornithology community, they were able to discover what a sublime discovery it was last October. The time away from public life is the longest “missing period” of any Asian animal and people have no idea what she’s been up to for 170 years. Researchers now believe they may have been hiding in plain sight from people who simply didn’t know how to spot them.

“The sensational find confirms that the Black-browed Babbler comes from southeast Borneo, ending the age-old confusion about its origins,” says Panji Gusti Akbar from Indonesia. bird conservation group, Birdpacker.

He created an invaluable framework to grow their populations in the jungle.

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