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Top 15 Recently Extinct Animals You Should Know About

Animals that have recently gone extinct that you should know about. Image via depositphotos.

The natural world is ever-changing, and unfortunately, the rapid rate of human expansion, habitat destruction, and climate change has led to the extinction of numerous species. Here, we explore 15 recently extinct animals, serving as a somber reminder of the delicate balance of our ecosystems.

1. Spix’s Macaw

Spix’s macaw. Image by Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Famously known as the inspiration for the animated movie Rio, the Spix’s Macaw was declared extinct in the wild in 2000. Native to Brazil, its vibrant blue feathers and captivating presence couldn’t save it from deforestation and the illegal pet trade. Conservation efforts continue in captivity, with hopes of reintroducing the bird to its natural habitat.

2. Pinta Island Tortoise

Pinta Island Giant Galapagos Tortoise / Lonesome George
(Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni)
Controlled conditions
Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

Lonesome George, the last known individual of the Pinta Island Tortoise, died in 2012, marking the species’ extinction. Native to the Galápagos Islands, these tortoises suffered greatly from overexploitation and habitat loss due to human activity and introduced species.

3. Yangtze River Dolphin

Image by Roland Seitre, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as the Baiji, this freshwater dolphin was declared functionally extinct in 2006. Rapid industrialization, overfishing, and pollution in the Yangtze River contributed to its decline, making it one of the first dolphin species driven to extinction by human activity.

4. Western Black Rhinoceros

Image by Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Declared extinct in 2011, the Western Black Rhinoceros was a subspecies of the black rhinoceros native to Cameroon. Poaching for their horns, driven by the high value in traditional medicine and as status symbols, led to their demise despite conservation efforts.

5. Christmas Island Pipistrelle

Big brown bat
A big brown bat, crawling along the surface of a rock. Image via John MacGregor (Land Between the Lakes KY/TN), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Take not this is not a Christmas island Pipistrelle.

This small bat species endemic to Christmas Island was declared extinct in 2009. Habitat destruction, predation by invasive species, and disease were major factors in its extinction, despite urgent conservation attempts.

6. Pyrenean Ibex

Image by Muséum de Toulouse, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pyrenean Ibex, a subspecies of the Spanish ibex, was declared extinct in 2000 when the last known individual was found dead. Efforts to clone the species resulted in the birth of a cloned ibex in 2009, but it died shortly after birth, making it the first species to become extinct twice.

7. Formosan Clouded Leopard

Image by Joseph Wolf, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Native to Taiwan, the Formosan Clouded Leopard was declared extinct in 2013. Extensive deforestation and hunting for its beautiful pelts led to its decline. Efforts to confirm sightings have continued, but none have been verified, suggesting it is likely lost forever.

8. Bramble Cay Melomys

Image by State of Queensland, CC BY 3.0 AU, via Wikimedia Commons

This small rodent, native to a tiny island in the Great Barrier Reef, was declared extinct in 2016. Rising sea levels and severe weather events, exacerbated by climate change, led to the destruction of its habitat, making it the first mammal to go extinct due to human-induced climate change.

9. Poʻouli

IMage by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Photographer Paul E. Baker), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Poʻouli, or Black-faced Honeycreeper, was native to Maui in Hawaii and was declared extinct in 2004. Habitat loss, disease, and predation by introduced species decimated their populations. Conservation efforts failed to save the remaining individuals in time.

10. Tecopa Pupfish

Image by Phil Pister, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This small fish, native to the hot springs of Tecopa in California, was declared extinct in 1981. Habitat modification due to the development of bathhouses and the introduction of non-native species contributed to its rapid decline.

11. Japanese River Otter

Image by Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Last seen in the 1970s, the Japanese River Otter was declared extinct in 2012. Overhunting for fur, pollution, and habitat destruction due to urban development were the primary causes of its extinction. The loss of this subspecies highlighted the need for better environmental protections in Japan.

12. Northern White Rhinoceros

Image by Sheep81, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Although not yet officially declared extinct, the Northern White Rhinoceros is functionally extinct, with only two females remaining as of 2021. Poaching and habitat loss have decimated their populations. Scientists are exploring advanced reproductive technologies to try and revive the subspecies.

13. Madeiran Large White

Image by A. E. Holt White, Rashleigh Holt White, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This butterfly species, native to Madeira, was declared extinct in 2007. Habitat destruction due to agricultural expansion and the use of pesticides were significant factors in its extinction. Its loss is a reminder of the delicate balance required for insect populations.

14. Golden Toad

Image by Charles H. Smithvergrößert von Aglarech, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The golden toad, native to Costa Rica’s cloud forests, was last seen in 1989 and declared extinct in 2004. Climate change, disease, and habitat loss contributed to its extinction, making it a symbol of the fragility of amphibian populations worldwide.

15. Zanzibar Leopard

IMage by Helle V. Goldman e Jon Winther-Hansen, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommo

Believed extinct since the 1990s and declared so in 2018, the Zanzibar Leopard was native to Unguja Island in the Zanzibar archipelago. It was driven to extinction by hunting and habitat loss due to human encroachment. Some unverified sightings offer a glimmer of hope, but it is likely lost forever.


animals on the brink of extinction
Image via unsplash.

The extinction of these 15 species underscores the urgent need for conservation efforts and sustainable practices. Each species plays a unique role in its ecosystem, and their loss has lasting impacts on biodiversity. By learning from these tragedies, we can work towards protecting the remaining flora and fauna, ensuring that future generations can enjoy the rich diversity of life on Earth. The stories of these extinct animals should serve as a wake-up call to prioritize and invest in conservation before more species follow the same fate. I hope this article helped bring light to the impact of human activities on the environment. To read more like this, check out the articles below:

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