How many species are now extinct?
It’s many, many more than the Tasmanian Tiger.
According to John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University, “Over the last two hundred years at least 34 Australian mammal species and 29 birds have become extinct," (Pacific Conservation Biology – 2018).
A 2014 study claimed Australia's mammal extinction rate was the world's highest, with more than 10 percent of species wiped out since Europeans settled the country two centuries ago.
The main causes of species decline that have been identified include habitat loss, such as through land clearing and other development — and feral cats and foxes.
This did not mention the horrific loss of wildlife in the recent bushfire disaster.
It’s not just Australia, of course: “one eighth of the world’s species – more than a million – are threatened with extinction”. (The Conversation)
And here’s something horrible: from a report in today’s Guardian: The bacteria in humans that has grown resistant to antibiotics has more than likely made its way into wildlife? (that means our sewage has leached into oceans and elsewhere! Erk!)
Imagine how that is affecting marine life.
Or - plants, trees, whole forests, wetlands, we could go on….
Humans have done this!
Now, take time to research the loss of habitat, resulting in the loss of animal life that has occurred since, say, 1950. It’s inestimable.
Sure, we have also killed a lot of humans on the past 100 or so years, using war as an excuse.
Or starvation – often connected to war – or disease.
The popular theory is that man is the superior being here on our planet.
Human Beings are generally thought of as the most important entity in the universe. (Sometimes referred to as humanocentrism).
But then…Hello, COVID19!
Is COVID19 telling us that it’s now OUR turn to feel the heat of possible extinction?
We have exterminated animal species willy nilly over centuries, culminating in tremendous losses over more recent years.
Even our beloved koala has been threatened by extinction. Now, that made some people sit up and take notice. The koala is cute to look at, cuddly to imagine and engenders lots of tourist dollars, so we value it above less attractive or photogenic species.
But they all matter.
Apart from mosquitos, human beings are the biggest cause of death to other human beings.
Yes, forget the Orca, the Great White Shark, Polar Bear, Saltwater Crocodile, Tiger, and others who are Apex predators, but are not (often!) after humans.
We, as a species do a lot of harm to ourselves as well as the rest of the planet.
BUT then along comes something that is perhaps a bigger and smarter top predator – COVID19.
Have we met our match?
How does it feel to be in danger of being obliterated? Just as we have done to all the hundreds of other life forms, animals, plants, insects.
We have far more at our disposal to fight off this stalker, this attacker.
Most threatened animal species have little other than nature and a few concerned individuals to try and protect them. We have everything the world can muster to help us.
But still, how does it feel to be ‘hunted’? To have an enemy that defies our current logic.
Let’s hope it will be ‘farewell, COVID19’ soon.
Put your face mask on!