Just ten of thousands

Dodo (c) Young World, The Hindu 2013The Dodo writes in plaintive verse the plight of several animals that have been done away with.

Dear Aristotle,

With great pain I read letters written to you. Man has silenced our species, as he has done to many thousands of others. I am really glad that there is a forum like yours wherein we can tell the world our grievances.

Most of us have been on this planet for millions of years. Yet, man is able to destroy innumerable species of animals and plants in a span of a few decades. How vile is that?

Here is a poem to remind you of just ten of many lost friends.

Ten Little Animals

Ten little animal species went out to dine;

Man ate the little moa bird and then there were nine.

Nine little animal species sat up very late;

Man over-hunted the quagga and then there were eight.

Eight little animal species travelling in Devon;

Man built dams that killed the Yangtze dolphin and then there were seven.

Seven little animal species chopping up sticks;

Man chopped trees which killed the Hawaiian crow and then there were six.

Six little animal species playing with a hive;

Man caught the red-headed green macaw for pet trade and then there were five.

Five little animal species going in for law;

Man and dog rid Mauritius of dodo bird and then there were four.

Four little animal species going out to sea;

Man shot Caribbean monk seal for meat and blubber and then there were three.

Three little animal species walking in the Zoo;

Man trapped Tasmanian wolf for bounty and then there were two.

Two little animal species sitting in the sun;

Man poached on the West African black rhino and then there was one.

One terrible little Homo sapien left all alone;

He wept in remorse and hanged himself.


May this last event happen.


Reply from Aristotle

Hey, this is really spooky. Who wrote this letter? A dodo, real dodo or a ghost dodo? Anyway, what this dodo says is true. Here is some information on those that once walked the earth.

Moa bird : a large extinct flightless bird of New Zealand similar to the ostrich that existed in a number of varieties and died out at the end of the 18th century.

Quagga : an extinct mammal of the horse family, related to the zebra, with yellowish-brown colouring and stripes on the head, neck, and shoulders. It was found in southern Africa until the late 19th century.

Yangtze dolphin : an extinct river dolphin that was found in the Yangtze River in China.

Hawaiian crow : an extinct large crow or small raven that was distributed on Hawaiian Islands.

Red-headed green macaw : This parrot is an extinct species, whose head was red, the body bright green, and the wings and greater coverts blue. The tail was scarlet and blue on top, whereas the tail and wings were intense orange-yellow underneath.

Dodo bird : A large extinct flightless bird of the pigeon family that once inhabited Mauritius and neighbouring islands in the Indian Ocean. The dodo, which was heavy-set with short legs and a hooked bill, became extinct in the late 17th century.

Caribbean monk seal : The Caribbean monk seal, West Indian seal or sea wolf, as early explorers referred to it, was a species of seal native to the Caribbean and now believed to be extinct.

Tasmanian wolf : It is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped back) or the Tasmanian wolf. Native to continentalAustralia,Tasmania andNew Guinea, it is thought to have become extinct in the 20th century. It was hunted to probable extinction in the 1930s, the last known Tasmanian wolf dying in Hobart Zoo, Tasmania, in 1936.

West African black rhino : The western black rhinoceros or West African black rhinoceros is an extinct subspecies of the black rhinoceros. They were believed to have been genetically different from other rhino subspecies. It was once widespread in the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa but its numbers declined due to poaching.

Published as part of a series titled ‘Aristotle’s Mailbag’ in Young World, The Hindu, dt. November 5, 2013


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