Lost species remembered

Names of the animals were displayed at Glen Beach for Remembrance of Lost Species Day on Friday November 30.

The names of lost species were recorded in the sand at Glen Beach last Friday, November 30.

Animal lovers gathered at the quiet beach in Camps Bay for the Remembrance of Lost Species Day.

The organiser of the event, Joanne Fairbrother, said the aim of the day was not only to create awareness but to also grieve, recognise the animals and tell their stories.

She said this was an opportunity to explore the stories of extinct and critically endangered species, cultures and ecological communities.

She said a lot of people don’t know that we’re living through earth’s sixth mass extinction where animals and plants are being lost at an unprecedented rate.

The names of extinct animals such as the Cape Lion, the Great Auk, Thylacine, and others were creatively recorded in the sand during a short sand scribing/writing workshop.

Ms Fairbrother told the story of the Great Auk, a penguin-like bird that went extinct in 1852. “The sailors hunted them for their meat and their soft feathers. They’d also use them for the fuel for their fires. They travelled mostly in islands and because of the high-fat meat content on their bodies, the sailors would destroy them alive into the fire and it’s heartbreaking because when they started being critically endangered, bird collectors started seeking them and they started being poached to use them for ornamentation,” she said.

Touching on some of the most critically endangered species in the world right now, Ms Fairbrother said the pangolins were being exploited for medicine in the East.

This year’s theme was Steller’s sea cow as this year marks the 250th anniversary of their extinction, driven to their end by fur hunters in 1768.

“This was one quite fascinating creature and they were the first marine mammal to be hunted in our era,” said Ms Fairbrother.

She said a lot of this extinction happened with colonialism when Europeans hunted the animals into extinction.

She said the habitat loss through animal agriculture was the biggest cause of species extinction. “Mankind needs to cut down on animal products,” she said.