Bornean Rhinoceros – It Was Very Good

Bornean Rhinoceros
Bornean Rhinoceros, Tabin-Engelbert

Bornean Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni)

 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

The Bornean Rhinoceros, also known as the Eastern Sumatran rhinoceros or Eastern hairy rhinoceros, was a subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros. The Bornean rhino was endemic to the island of Borneo but their range was reduced severely until the entire known population was restricted to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Their habitat was the hot, humid closed canopy rainforests of the island.

The Bornean rhino was the smallest extant rhino. The weight of an adult individual ranged from 1300 to 2000 pounds, with a height of three to five feet and a body length of six to nine feet. The Bornean rhinoceros had the darkest skin of the Sumatran rhinos, and the fur of calves was much denser, but it became scarcer and darker as the animal matured. The head size was also relatively smaller. The rhinoceros had fringed ears and wrinkles around its eyes.

Bornean Rhinoceros
Tam, a captive Bornean Rhino, may be the last male of the species.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Bornean rhinoceros was common throughout its native range. The animal was driven to extinction in the wild through a combination of hunting, poaching for their horn, habitat loss, and by having a small, scattered population.

In the 1930s, overhunting by natives wiped out much of the rhino’s population. The native hunted the rhinos their horns and traded them to China. Beginning in the 1960s, large-scale logging for international consumption heavily degraded or completely cleared much of Borneo’s rainforest. In the 1990s, palm oil became a huge industry in Borneo, having an even larger effect on the Bornean rhinos.

The widespread habitat destruction and hunting of the Bornean rhinoceros led to the population being too fragmented to repopulate. Bornean rhinos are extremely elusive and solitary animals and the destruction of their habitat and the separation of breeding populations made it nearly impossible for the animals to find mates and reproduce. The International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the rhino declared extinct in 2015. Three of the rhinos live in captivity.

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Bluebuck – It Was Very Good

Mounted Bluebuck, Frank Lane –

Bluebuck (Hippotragus leucophaeus)

The Bluebuck or blue antelope was a small antelope indigenous to South Africa. The tallest mounted specimen (there are only four) is nearly four feet at the shoulder with horns that are almost two feet long and curved back toward the animal’s body. The Bluebuck’s coat was a uniform grey-blue color with a white belly. The forehead was brown and darker than the face, its ears were shorter and blunter, not tipped with black; and, it had a darker tail tuft and smaller teeth. It also lacked the contrasting black and white patterns seen on the heads of its relatives. Its mane was not as developed and it lacked the black and white patterns seen in its nearest relatives the roan and sable antelopes.

“Discovered” by Europeans in the 17th century, but already uncommon, the Bluebuck’s range was confined to the southwestern cape of South Africa. Its original entire historic range has been estimated to be only 1,700 square miles. The first published mention of the bluebuck is from 1681, and few descriptions of the animal were written while it existed. The few 18th-century illustrations appear to have been based on stuffed specimens. Hunted by European settlers.

Bluebuck, Allamand, 1778

Due to the small range of the bluebuck at the time of European settlement of the Cape region of South Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries compared to the much wider area evidenced by fossil remains, it is thought the species was already in decline before this time. The blue antelope was hunted to extinction by European settlers, Hinrich Lichtenstein claimed that the last bluebuck was shot in 1799 or 1800. The antelope was the first large African mammal to become extinct in historical times.

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Big Eared Hopping Mouse – It Was Very Good

Big Eared Hopping Mouse
Not the Big Eared Hopping Mouse, Unknown

Big Eared Hopping Mouse (Notomys macrotis)

The big eared hopping mouse was a small rodent resembling a tiny kangaroo about the size of a rat. The mouse had large eyes and ears with a brush-tipped tail. It moved on its four legs when moving slowly or by hopping on its large, padded hind feet when moving quickly. Their habitat is believed to have been the sand dunes of Western Australia.

We only know about the Big Eared Hopping Mouse from two damaged specimens. The last record of the animal dates from July 19, 1843, and was collected in Perth around the Moore River and King George’s Sound.

There are believed to have been many contributing factors to the extinction of macrotis: the introduction of nonnative species – particularly cats; exotic diseases; habitat loss and degradation; resource depletion due to livestock and feral herbivores. The systematic destruction of their burrows, resources, food supply, and the animals themselves lead to the species’ extinction.

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Barbary Lion – It Was Very Good

Barbary Lion
Male Barbary Lion, 1893. Photographed by Alfred Edward Pease

Barbary Lion (Panthera leo leo)

The Barbary Lion, also known as the Atlas lion or Nubian lion, was a lion subspecies formerly native to North Africa. The lions inhabited the range countries of the Atlas Mountains including the Barbary Coast. In Algeria, they lived in the forest-clad hills and mountains between Ouarsenis in the west, the Pic de Taza in the east, and the plains of the Chelif River in the north. There were also many lions among the forests and wooded hills of the Constantine Province eastwards into Tunisia and south into the Aurès Mountains.

Barbary Lions lions had the most luxuriant and extensive manes amongst lions.  The Barbary lion was considered the largest lion. Museum specimens of the species are described as having very dark and long-haired manes that extended over the shoulder and to the belly. Head-to-tail length of stuffed males varies from seven to nine feet, and females around 8 ft. The weight was documented as being as heavy as 600 to 660 lbs in males.

Barbary Lion
Sultan, a Barbary Lion, of the New York Zoo, circa 1897

The Barbary Lion is extinct in the wild. Some Zoos and wildlife preserves believe they have Barbary Lions in their care, though the minimal genetic diversity of the alleged remaining animals ensures that the subspecies is effectively extinct.

Hunting, habitat loss, and desertification in Northern Africa all contributed to the extinction of the species. The Romans used Barbary Lions in the Colosseum to battle with gladiators. By the early 1800s, it was already being reported that they were extinct from coastal North Africa.  The last known report of Barbary Lions in Tunisia dates to the 1890s. The last of the subspecies was shot in the Moroccan part of the Atlas Mountains in 1942. There were a few sightings in Morocco and Algeria in the 1950s. The last remaining wild population of the lion may have survived into the early 1960s in the remotest areas.

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