Five Animals That Have Almost Been Eaten to Extinction
If there’s one thing historically true about humans, it’s that we care little about anything outside of ourselves – animals, the environment, even each other. So the fact that we are now facing widespread ecological disaster is no surprise. But while we’re slowly killing the planet, we’re killing some of our most beloved animals for the sake of filling our plates more quickly.
These animals don’t just provide humans with the foods they love. They are also important aspects of their respective environments, and in some cases, if they go extinct, ecological chaos can ensue. Meanwhile, your children and your children will never get to experience these foods. Will we stop eating them in time to save these species, or will they become extinct?
Sturgeons, consisting of 27 different species of fish, are among the most endangered on the planet. There are a few reasons why this fish is in danger of extinction, but perhaps the most notable is the human craving for caviar. You may know that caviar is fish roe, but to qualify as “real” caviar, the special roe must be obtained from sturgeon. Today, some caviar comes from farmed fish, but what is considered the highest quality caviar comes from wild sturgeon in the Caspian and Black Seas. Although wild caviar was banned in the mid-2000s, the booming black market for luxuries has continued to deplete sturgeon stocks.
Some restaurants have switched to caviar alternatives, like salmon roe. Famously, Eleven Madison Park in New York, when it was renamed a vegan restaurant, used tonburi, also known as “caviar” in its menu. True caviar aficionados don’t have easy access to these “caviar” alternatives, but for those of us with limited caviar experience, switching can make a difference. could be an ethical and economic alternative.
The ortolan, a songbird related to the sparrow, is often prepared as a delicacy in France and eaten whole, bone and all. It is traditionally eaten with a napkin or a cloth covering the diner’s head, which is said to help retain the bird’s aroma as it is chewed and swallowed, a complex process that usually takes several minutes to complete. . When these birds are alive, they are often blind, which encourages them to gorge themselves, making themselves fatter and, therefore, more susceptible to decay. They are then soaked in brandy, which also functions as a marinade.
Unfortunately, with the fascination with which fine French diners have consumed the ortolan, this bird is now facing extinction. The Smithsonian Mag claims that about 10% of ortolans that pass through the south of France are illegally hunted and killed each migration season, despite the fact that poaching of the birds has been outlawed in France. .
Shark is perhaps best known as a delicacy in Iceland, where it is fermented into a dish called hakarl, considered by many to be an acquired taste (hákarl is famous for its strong ammonia aroma). However, Iceland is not the only country that consumes sharks; In fact, it’s technically legal in the United States, although you may not come across sharks on the menu on a regular basis. But some shark species are now facing extinction due to overfishing and overfishing. Additionally, some shark species are very susceptible to shark finning, which involves removing the fin (the most lucrative part of the fish) and throwing the shark’s remains back into the ocean.
Guardians reports that endangered shark DNA has even been found in pet food, meaning animal owners have unwittingly fed their pets an endangered species.
If you don’t live in an area where pangolins are consumed, chances are you first heard of pangolins at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis when scientists were trying to pinpoint the source of the virus. Pangolins are considered to be the most likely cause of the spread of the virus to humans. This animal closely resembles an anteater but has rough, scaly skin. The animal’s scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine for many uses, including to reduce swelling. In recent decades, the demand for pangolins has increased so much that it is now facing extinction due to poaching. The black market for these animals has only grown with the advent of the internet.
Some of these foods don’t often grace many of our plates, but there is a slightly more popular variety, especially if you regularly eat sushi in your local area. According to Tulane University, bluefin tuna commonly used as sashimi has declined by 80 to 90 percent in the population over the past 80 years. There are a total of 63 species of tuna, 15 of which are considered endangered. This is mainly due to overfishing and illegal fishing in much of the ocean where these fish are found. Demand for sushi has increased the price of bluefin tuna, encouraging overfishing. As tuna is still extremely popular among casual eaters, only time will tell whether we’ll end up eating all of the tuna.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.