Denial of extinction crisis

You will have to research this yourself as I am shaky on the numbers and the definition of agriculture and the practices of the first, pre-European, colonisers of New Zealand, (who grew kumara they introduced, and cultivated Phormium tenax for fibre for clothing and tools etc; otherwise I have only heard of gathering [Edit: and hunting] food, eg bracken roots, berries and the hearts of slow growing trees), but I understand that a number of bird species became at least functionally extinct within a few hundred years, leading to the collapse of other species including bird species.

Eg…from memory…the Haast eagle became extinct because the moa species it ate became extinct…

EDIT but New Zealand may be a bit of an anomaly because it is an isolated landmass with only two native mammals (both bats), and possibly a rat; so many of the native species were both endemic and defenceless against predation by mammals. They included some very large - and apparently nutritious - flightless birds. Other, flighted bird species were also exceptionally trusting, without either fight or flight response to intrusion. I saw a nature documentary with footage of a takahe (large flightless parrot) on a nest of eggs the bird responded to close human approach by “using a defence strategy of sitting very, very still” as the commentator, Michael Palin perhaps, noted drily.

“New Zealand’s greatest biological loss is 42 percent of its’ terrestrial birds since human settlement 700 years ago. The 57 extinct birds evolved in an isolated land, and without mammal predators, developed various levels of flightlessness, ground feeding and nesting habits, and fearlessness over millions of years”.
Edit: Sorry, I forgot to put that in quotes when I posted this, and I have now forgotten where I found the quote; probably one of the sources below

A quick google:
“The first 38 extinctions during human settlement were influenced by Maori hunting for food, indiscriminate forest burning, and introduction of the Polynesian rat and dogs. Since mid-1800 European arrival there have been another 19 losses caused by logging, forest clearing for pasture, and introduction of a hoard [sic] of predatory animals including bird enemies numbers one and two, stoats and rats. The prominent extinction groups are all 14 moas, 11 rails, 6 wrens and both eagles”


“Fourteen species of moa were hunted to extinction over a period of 100 years during the 13th and 14th centuries, immediately after the first human settlement of New Zealand. It was the fastest known extermination in the world of a whole fauna of large animals. Moa were in decline when human hunting started, with only 159,000 birds - a severe reduction from 3 to 12 million thousands of years before the arrival of humans.”

More lightweight but noting the current situation:

Moderator - this seems to be getting into a new topic - the cause/s of extinctions. The cause/s are related to the denial, but I am happy to be moved elsewhere, especially if a start can be found for that branch of the discussion can include the interesting thoughts above about agriculture, evolution etc…


Well, two thoughts:

  1. I wonder if those Maori hunters were in denial about the decline toward extinction of those moas? I can imagine them believing that moas were an inexhaustible resource that would always be there… until it wasn’t anymore.

  2. Because extinctions like those in New Zealand, the Mascarenes, and other places happened so long before our time, it can be hard to believe such creatures ever really lived at all. If you visited New Zealand today, and did not know about the extinct fauna, would you notice the absence of moas? Would you notice that you do not hear the song of the huia? This in itself can fuel extinction denial – the unawareness of extinctions that already happened.


i would argue a lot of this is cultural (colonialism etc) rather than inherent to humans (at least relevant to the US, i know i don’t speak for all cultures). I’d also point out given the relevance to my recent thread that neurodivergent people are often much less hierarchy-driven. So it is a choice we as a species and our respecitive cultures to make, to some extent.


It’s not about colonialism, it’s about early human society, we live in cooperation, but all males can’t be on the same level, it’s too hard, so there will always be someone better in everything and someone worse, it mattered more when you had to survive in the wilderness. Modern society is also about hierarchy, there’s always a boss and we see that communism isn’t a working model. What we need is to teach people that their place doesn’t make them better, while life tries to teach the opposite, starting with bullies in kindergarten ending with people using their power (even when it’s small and they’re just doing some paper work) to humiliate others. Of course some people show more of that than others, but it’s a bad aspect of it, you see in many (most) modern cultures that older people are higher than younger ones.

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