The Species We Lost in 2019

This week's investigative reporting, analysis and environmental news.
The Revelator
Extinction collage

No. 114, Jan. 9, 2020

Hello Revelator readers,

In late December researchers announced that efforts to locate living specimens of the Chinese giant paddlefish in the Yangtze River had failed. Sadly, that species — one of the world's largest freshwater fish — is now considered extinct. It joins the Corquin robber frog, Bramble Cay melomys, Victorian grassland earless dragon and a Hawaiian bird called the po'o-uli on the list of species declared extinct in 2019.

Saving other species from the same fate will require conservationists to use every tool they can find. One of those tools is camera traps — but how do we analyze the thousands of images that these devices generate worldwide every day and use that information to support conservation efforts? In our latest essay, scientist Tim O'Brien tells us about a new service called Wildlife Insight that uses artificial intelligence to identify which animals appear in the photos.

Another tool involves wildlife crossings over roads and highways — something that may make a huge difference for elusive and endangered wolverines.

Subscriber bonus: The Wild 5

Let's go a little deeper. Here are five more stories we're watching this week.

1. The "conservative" estimate for the amount of wildlife killed in Australia's wildfires has jumped to 1 billion animals.

2. Scientists warn that Australia's fires may push some threatened species, like the Kangaroo Island dunnart, to extinction.

3. Proposed changes by the Trump administration would weaken the landmark National Environmental Policy Act and exclude climate change from analyses of the potential impact of infrastructure projects such as pipelines and highways.

4. Heavy rains and rising sea levels in Indonesia have caused some of the worst flooding Jakarta has seen in decades, with 66 people dead and 173,000 residents displaced.

5. Climate change now ranks as one of the top priorities for Democratic voters in early voting states such as New Hampshire and Iowa.

In case you missed it:

This Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of wolves being rereleased back into Yellowstone. Check out our interview with Carter Niemeyer, the biologist who played an instrumental role in the restoration effort, who told us what wolves need to thrive.

What should we cover next?

Our stories rely on insight from experts and readers around the world, so we always welcome your ideas and inside scoops. Drop us a line anytime.

Coming up:

Stay tuned for more news out of Australia, as well as a look at January's best environmental books, a video about a very special black-footed ferret, and a whole lot more.

Look for our latest links in next Thursday's newsletter — or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the headlines as they go live.

As always, thank you for reading.

John Platt

John R. Platt
Editor, The Revelator


  This message was sent to
of Alagoas foliage-gleaner (c) Ciro Albano/IUCN; po'o-uli by Paul E. Baker/USFWS; relative of the Victorian grassland earless dragon by John Wombey/CSIRO; Bramble Cay melomys courtesy Queensland EPA.

Sign up to receive The Revelator's weekly newsletter.
Join the Center for Biological Diversity.

Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702
United States