How does it feel to be the last of your kind? What will you do if you are the only hope for your species? How will you cope with loneliness being rejected by your race?
For you who still think that extinction of any species is still decades away, you are wrong. Extinction of some animal species is closer than you imagine. Here, let me tell you the story of the loneliest animals in the world, while facing their extinction.
The first loneliest animal is Lonesome George. By its name you may already know how lonesome he was. It was a Pinta Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni) from Galapagos which was the last of its kind.
Native Pinta Island giant tortoise was not a rare species back then in 19th century, but the whole population had been wiped out by human. The tortoise was harvested for its meat since it can live up to a year without food or water.
Its slow metabolism rate was useful for the sailors who planned to explore the sea for a long time. This trend ended in early 20s century when this species was considered extinct. Thus, the discovery of Lonesome George in 1972 was some kind of miracle.
Lonesome George was about 60 years old by then and was brought to a zoo. In this captivity the zookeeper did not let him enjoy his live like any other 60 years old creatures usually do, instead he was constantly prodded to mate.
Since Lonesome George was the only one of its kind, he was forced to mate with other subspecies, and the result was none. He sadly passed away at 2012, so the race of Pinta Island Tortoise is now officially declared extinct, although scientist believe they are near to revive this kind of turtle in the future from extinction.
Toughie The Frog
The next loneliest animal is a little frog whose name is Toughie. Toughie is the last Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog in the world. This species of frog usually was found in the rainforest of Panama, gliding from one tree to another.
The same with Lonesome George, this male frog was brought to captivity to protect him from widespread fungal infection that killed the rest of its species. Toughie now lives in a gray shipping container called frogPOD in Atlanta’s Botanical Garden.
However, this frog was not forced to mate with females from other species because frog only mate with its own species. Yet, the last female in his species died in 2009, making him the only one of its species left in the world.
The sad story is, Toughie stopped calling for mates since he was brought to captivity. Maybe he has known that he is the last of his kind and nobody’s out there for him anymore. And he also never responded to recorded female Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog calls, maybe because he knows those recordings weren’t real.
Another story of the last male of its species, this story is about Sudan. Sudan is a northern white rhinoceros from the country South Sudan which was bought to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya back in December 2009
There, he lived with two females and another male of the same species with the hope of breeding successfully.
However, the other remaining male named Suni passed away in 2014 and ended the hope for bringing back the northern white rhinoceros species to stable population, unless Sudan could bear all the fate of its species on his shoulders alone.
Unfortunately, Sudan couldn’t fulfill the high hopes put on his shoulders. In his 40s, Sudan has a declining sperm count and it makes mating for breeding intention is hard to do. His back legs are also weakening and making him nearly impossible to be able to mount a female for mating.
His caretakers now are hoping to utilize modern facilities to help Sudan reproduce its species. They are now hoping the in-vitro fertilization method (IVF) will work for this species. However, the amount of money needed to help this species to reproduce is not cheap.
“We estimate it will cost somewhere in the region of 9 to 10 million dollars,” told the chief executive of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy to CNN. To make sure Sudan still survive until the IVF can be done, nowadays he is guarded by armed guards 24/7.
People have started to collect fund for Sudan by using Tinder app. In 190 countries, when user “match” Sudan, they will be redirected to a site where they can donate to help pay for the in-vitro fertilization method.
This one is not about the extinction of a species, this one is about the exclusion from the rest of the world just because you talk in different language.
Alone, wandering through the vast ocean without any friends nor family, 52 Blue is the loneliest whale in the world. This loneliest whale in the world was first discovered in late 1980s by William Watkins of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution of Massachusetts.
Watkins discovered a signal of a whale traveling in the same way and area as blue whales in the region, but this one is different. While other whales are communicating in 15 to 25 Hertz frequencies, this one was vocalizing at 52 Hertz.
Since the discovery, Watkins and his team continued to record the call of the whale each year until 12 years. However, this discovery remained private until 2004, following the death of William Watkins the findings were published in the journal Deep Sea Research.
52 Blue is known as the loneliest whale in the world because he communicates in different frequency than the others. It means that even when the whale is next to a group of other whales, none of the other whales could hear him.
That’s why this whale was never heard belong to any whale group. Its call is also never accompanied by another whale call. So, this whale is known as a solitary whale all this time and even when this whale needs friends it cannot reach them by sound.
Imagine wandering around the vast ocean alone without anyone to accompany you. And even when you really long for accompany just to talk about something, they cannot hear your voice because you speak in the frequency they cannot hear. Won’t you feel lonely?