For those of you who don’t have children, put yourself in your parents position. You are their child. Now imagine how they or you would feel if their son or daughter died before them. You their child now gone forever. They of course were supposed to out live you. It’s a travesty, compound upon that by imagining that you were the last of your family blood line.
Now you have a hint of an idea of what a complete tragedy the loss of an entire species is. Compound upon this that the Yangtze river dolphin is an evolutionary product of over 20 million years. The last research team that went to find traces of the dolphin came up with naught. It is believed that the Chinese lax fishing laws as well as the development of three gorges dam project sealed their fate.
Douglas Adams perhaps most famous for his book “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” also wrote a less commonly known book in called Last Chance to See. This book detailed many endangered borderline extinct species throughout the world. Amongst them the Yangtze River dolphin. To further add to the important attention this book brought a TV series was also started in April 2007.
Now it seems all of that were for naught as the extinction of the dolphin represents the first in vertebrae extinction in near 50 years. Undoubtedly the river dolphin will not be the last animal to go extinct. I was painfully reminded of the other species that are in trouble. I stood on the beach’s edge and looked out across the bay as I had done so many times in my youth. When the sun in my peripheral vision was blacked out. I saw the most majestic of birds there, the bald eagle, I was astounded; I had never seen an actual bald eagle in all my years and to finally see one was breath taking. I shall not forget that moment. Nor shall I forget the Yangtze River Dolphin, or the cactus pygmy owl, or the black rhinoceros, and neither should you. These animals are as much a part of us as our own bodies.
It is time we as a species stopped being so apathetic. We have developed an attitude of if I see it then there couldn’t be a shortage. Animals are not the only thing that face destruction. Our “fossil fuels” run dangerously low and frankly the alternative fuel sources are nothing short of a joke. Unfortunately even if we as a species acted globally and locally to solve problems it would be too little to late. I am afraid that the death of the Yangtze Dolphin is more than just the loss of a species. It is a signal to all of mankind that we are killing the planet and inevitably ourselves. We human beings are a remarkably arrogant species. The fact that most people will pay no heed to this or any devastating problem unless it directly influences them is disgusting.
So I ask you what are we to do when so much is gone from this world, and going? I’m afraid I don’t have an answer. The dolphins said it best though in Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“So long and thanks for all the fish.”
* Rare river dolphin ‘now extinct’
* China’s Rare River Dolphin Now Extinct, Experts Announce