To date exactly when a species became extinct is unusual and erroneous. But it serves the purpose of jolting the ordinary reader out of his ostrich like slumber in the belief that he will not be affected by it. Mankind’s actions have removed many species from the face of the planet. The last sighting of a Dodo was way back in 1662 in Mauritius. No one knows for sure for how long this shy bird had survived.
Much similar and intriguing is the disappearance of the passenger pigeon. The last passenger pigeon was Martha which died in a Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. The disappearance of passenger pigeon also puts in question the wildlife conservation measures which labels a species as endangered only when its numbers are critically low.
The passenger pigeon was widespread in the US and the numbers were in millions. Passenger pigeons would fly in thousands together and sometimes blinded the sun. They were hunted mercilessly with its meat not only consumed by humans but also used to feed to livestock and carcasses used to fill holes. However once the numbers reduced, hunting passenger pigeons were banned. However the passenger pigeons never recovered and were soon extinct.
The extinction of passenger pigeon has baffled experts. Many theories have been given for their extinction. One such theory is that other factors like deforestation and widespread use of pesticides could have contributed to their extinction. Another theory is that passenger pigeons always flew in flocks numbering thousands thus affording security from preys.
Use of pesticides has also contributed to the extinction of a number of species including predators and scavengers like vultures. DDT was used rampantly in the sixties and seventies. The DDT washed down by rain flowed into rivers eventually entering the food chain. The vultures and eagles which ate fishes and insects tainted with DDT became almost extinct-reason, their eggs did not form shells courtesy DDT.