29 August 2007

One Then There Were ... One?

Back in December, I wrote this entry about the reported extinction in China of the baiji dolphin (pictured), once one of the most endangered animals in the world.

Today comes a report that one baiji might have been seen in the dirty, polluted Yangtze River that the species had called home for thousands of years.

At first, I was excited by the news; where there is one, there could be two, a third, a fourth, maybe an entire pod that escaped the determined effort of humans to kill them off.

Then, I started thinking about how sad it would be if this baiji was, indeed, the last single survivor of its species. How sad would that be?

Then, I started thinking about Martha.

Poor Martha.

Martha was the last known passenger pigeon. She died in 1914, in captivity, at the Cincinnati Zoo -- the last of her species. All alone.

The only thing worse than the demise of an entire species, is the demise of an entire species but one -- one last lone survivor. Martha, then, and this baiji, now, with not one of their species to cuddle with when it becomes afraid, or talk to when it is lonely, or interact with just like any other animal that needs companionship.

I really hope there is a secret pod of baiji living in some clean side pool of the river. If not, then I hope it really is gone, that the species is really extinct. I just cannot bear to think of another case like Martha.

Read the article here.

Read more about Martha, and the demise of the passenger pigeon, here.

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