Humanity, go and sit in the corner. Again.
Japan’s Ministry of the Environment last week officially declared the Japanese River Otter extinct – more than 30 years after one was last spotted in the wild.
The JR-otter – a subspecies of the equally adorable European otter – was once found throughout Japan (and as “recently” as the 1880s, Tokyo), but was hunted for its fur and suffered massive population decimation due to pollution and habitat destruction.
In other words, the same broken record we’ve been spinning other species on since deciding to f*ck things up for nature. In fact, we’re so terrible at this whole stewardship thing, that it’s estimated humanity is causing a rapid loss of species at a rate of between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
But the news wasn’t just grim for only the JR-Otter. From Scientific American:
In addition to the river otter, the Ministry of the Environment also declared as extinct a subspecies of the least horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus pumilus miyakonis), which was last seen in 1971. The Japanese subspecies of the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicus) was declared extinct on the island of Kyushu, where it has not been seen since 1957 (it persists elsewhere in Japan). One bird species, one insect species, one shellfish species and two plant species were also listed as extinct. The names of those additional groups were not immediately available.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, the JR-Otter now only lives on in memories of their playfulness.
“For instance, once an otter slithered between the legs of a child playing in the river. Another got angry and bit someone who tried to put a straw hat on it. And then there was a fisherman who was placidly taking a smoke break in his boat when an otter suddenly popped its head out of the water, as if to say, ‘Surprise!’”
Farewell Japanese otters – it’s nothing personal. We’re just terrible at giving a shit.