Dodo: Species Spotlight

Dodo: Species Spotlight will look at the story of this iconic creature and try to understand what we can learn from the past, in order to understand how we can safeguard species for the future.

 

The Dodo lived in Mauritius and is classed in the same family as pigeons or doves. They are thought to have gone extinct between 1688 – 1715, most likely in the 1693 region.

The Dodo’s downfall was that it had no fear of humans as it only lived on a remote island where it hadn’t had contact with us before. This made them easy prey for sailors and also for the animals they introduced to the island. Namely cats, dogs, rats, pigs and monkeys which all found the bird and its eggs (as Dodo’s nested on the ground) easy pickings, as well as being competition to its already limited food sources.

 

So, you will most likely know that unfortunately the Dodo is no longer with us as a species, but that doesn’t make them any less interesting! In fact, they are not only fascinating creatures but also can be used as a stark warning for how quickly we can lose a species when we don’t interact with them in a sustainable and considered manner.

This post was originally written in 2017 for Small World, Big Cause. It has been edited and refreshed for The Curious Environmentalist. 

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Species Spotlight: Dodo

The Dodo lived off fruit fallen from trees, nuts, seeds, bulbs and roots that it could find on the ground – as it was a flightless bird.

They may also have eaten crabs and shellfish but not much about their diets is known for certain. It is known that their beaks were used as a defensive weapon and sailors are quoted to having said to have been wary of their beaks when catching them. There is also documentation that sailors would catch one Dodo, which then making a great noise, would attract many more Dodo coming to its rescue – who were then subsequently captured. It’s overly friendly and loyal nature was really it’s biggest flaw which is such a sad thought!

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Not all Dodo’s that were caught were eaten, some were transported across the oceans for exhibit around the world. Although there is some speculation as to how many of these individuals actually made it to their destinations alive, we know that at least some definitely did as there are records of their exhibitions.

The closest living relative to the Dodo still living today is a bird called the “Nicobar Pigeon” which is found on islands and coastal regions near India. It is a bright blue/green bird that is about 40cm in length. Which is much small than the Dodo was thought the be, measuring about 1m tall and weighing up to 17.5kg!

Unfortunately, we cannot bring back the Dodo. The damage has already been done. Yet, if we can just take this as a lesson to how quickly a population can be wiped out if there is no thought to our interaction and our effect on them, then maybe their extinction won’t have been a total loss. Living sustainably here on the earth is paramount to our survival and that of so many other species too. If we take a moment to think about what we are doing and the impact of our actions, then hopefully we can prevent the destruction of the weird and wonderful species that enrich our planet and our lives.

Just a thought, peace out.

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