Timeline: charting disappearance of species as Sixth Great Extinction continues

Humanity is living through the sixth mass animal extinction, known as the Holocene extinction. Earth has lost 58 percent of its wild animal population in the past 40 years, according to the Zoological Society of London and the World Wildlife Foundation.

An academic paper published in 2017 calls the ongoing loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” (Guardian) and a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation”. And an earlier paper led by the same researcher, Gerardo Ceballos, warned that the “window of opportunity” to do something about the species losses was “rapidly closing”.

Charting those creatures in danger, or disappearing, will focus minds on the scale of the problem.

Add major animal extinction news to this timeline. This story is part of the Animal extinction project.

Animal Extinction timeline

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May 2018:

  • Humans have destroyed 83 percent of wild mammals  –  Despite the fact humans only constitute 0.01 percent of Earth’s biomass, according to a new study, we have destroyed 83 percent of wild mammals and half of the world’s plants since human civilization began (The Guardian). Prof Ron Milo, who led the study said,“When I do a puzzle with my daughters, there is usually an elephant next to a giraffe next to a rhino. But if I was trying to give them a more realistic sense of the world, it would be a cow next to a cow next to a cow and then a chicken” (The Guardian).

March 2018:

  • Last northern white rhinoceros dies  –  The white rhinoceros has been a significant sub-species of rhinoceros, but after the death of a 45-year-old male in Kenya, only two females remain (read the WikiTribune report). According to the BBC, northern white rhino populations were greatly reduced by poaching in the 1970s.

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See also: Australian fairy possum endangered

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