Remembering Lost Species

Remembering Lost Species

Today, we're pausing to remembering lost species as a result of our human actions, and calling Christians to act to preserve endangered species.

November 30th is the international day of Remembering Lost Species. Around the world, the day is a chance to learn and tell the stories of species that have become extinct due largely to the human involvement in our rapidly changing climate, and to call us to renew our commitments to those remaining endangered species.

Today, the loss of species is up to 10,000 times the natural extinction rate we've seen in the past. A few years ago WWF reported that earth has lost half its wildlife in the last 40 years[1], and without urgent action we will lose two thirds of wild animals by as soon as 2020.

As Christians, we hold that all of God's creation is precious. In Genesis 1:25 we read that:

God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

The goodness of God was revealed in his creation, in the biodiversity of the various kinds of wild animals he created. Then just a few chapters later, in Genesis 6:19-20, we see God calling Noah to preserve the animals he had created in the midst of the flood:

And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive.

As we continue on through the Psalms we see the Psalmists marvel at God's wonder revealed in all creation, acknowledging his preservation of and provision for the wild animals (Psalm 36:6, Psalm 104:14). Then in the New Testament, Jesus' own words remind us that God not only provides for the humble sparrow (Matthew 6:26) but that not even one sparrow's death goes unnoticed by God (Matthew 10:29).

And so, today, we too notice and pause to remember these wild animals we've lost in our lifetime:

The Pinta Island Tortoise which was declared extinct just four years ago, on June 24, 2012.

Pinta Island Tortoise, June 24, 2012

 

The Western Black Rhinoceros that was officially declared extinct in 2011—due largely to poaching—while the three other remaining subspecies of black rhinos are still critically endangered.

Western Black Rhinoceros, 2011

 

The Alaotra Grebe became extinct in 2010 due to introduced non-native predators and habitat loss.

Alaotra Grebe, 2010

 

The Poʻouli or Black-faced Honeycreeper which became extinct in 2004.

Poʻouli or Black-faced Honeycreeper, 2004

 

The Caribbean Monk Seal which was declared extinct in 2008, but hadn't been seen alive since 1952.

Caribbean Monk Seal, 2008

 

The Yangtze River Dolphin which was declared extinct in 2006.

Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin, 2006

 

The Pyrenean Ibex which has been extinct since 2000.

Pyrenean Ibex, 2000

 

The Canarian Oystercatcher which was starved to extinction in 1994 due to overfishing of their only food source.

Canarian Oystercatcher, 1994

 

The Javan Tiger which became extinct in 1994 after loss of habitat due to farming.

Javan Tiger, 1994

 

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker which died out in 1994 after the loss of its swamp-land habitat.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1994

 

The Dusky Seaside Sparrow which was lost in 1987 due to pesticides and urban development on their habitat. "What is the price of two sparrow—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it." Matthew 10:29 (NLT)

Dusky Seaside Sparrow, 1987 

 

The Golden Toad which lost its habitat by 1989 due to global warming, increased pollution and unprecedented weather patterns.

Golden Toad, 1989

 

The Conondale Gastric-brooding Frog, which became extinct in 1983.

Conondale Gastric-brooding Frog, 1983

 

The Mariana Mallard which became extinct in 1981 after loss of habitat due to agriculture and war.

Mariana Mallard, 2004

 

The Japanese Sea Lion which was hunted to extinction in 1974.

Japanese Sea Lion, 1974

 

The Mexican Grizzly Bear which by 1964 was hunted to extinction.

Mexican Grizzly Bear, 1964

The Tasmanian Tiger became extinct in 1936 due to excessive hunting, combined with factors such as habitat destruction and introduced disease.

 

Join us in prayer:

Lord of all Creation, Maker of Heaven and Earth, Good Provider,

Today we come before you in grief, in shame, to lament the loss of beautiful creatures.

We grieve the more than one-in-four flowering plants, the one-in-five mammals, the nearly one-in-three amphibians, and the one-in-eight birds that are vulnerable to being wiped out completely.[2]

We acknowledge that we play a part in this dying by our carelessness, ignorance, and indifference. Forgive us our part in the death of healthy ecosystems and the resulting extinction of your creatures.

Refresh our love for all you have made. Renew our resolve to advocate, fight, nurture and defend our fellow creatures. Thank you for those who care for the earth - the gardeners, the activists, the scientists, the zoologists - sustain them and protect their hearts as they strive and grieve.

We thank you for the magnificent world which you have bestowed upon us. We thank you that you can do more than all we ask or imagine and so we ask for your help - restrain human evil, energise us for service, fill us with courage and hope.

May your world ever be very very good.

Amen

 

Go further:

If you're in Sydney on Nov 30th, you can join our friends at Paddington Anglican Church for an evening to gather, reflect and lament all that has been lost and will be lost, and a chance to renew our love and commitment to save what we can.

If you want to read more on this topic:

[2] International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Creation & Climate Justice