Photo credit: http://www.lostspeciesday.org/

This is a virtual space to mark Remembrance for Lost Species day. We invite you to post about particular species which are now extinct, express loss related to extinction and particular species, and commemorate in whatever way feels most meaningful... this might be words, images, poems. For inspiration, here’s what’s happened in the past and a call for participants for this year.

 

This might also prompt local groups or friends to gather together to mark the day in person on Wednesday 30th November? Or take some other form of related action? If you do decide to do this, and are happy to invite others, please feel free to share the event on the Events pages as well as posting about it on the ning thread.

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  • Since some others are sharing poems, I remembered this poem which I wrote more than thirty years ago. I had been blackberrying and suddenly had a vision of a world that my children might inhabit where wild spaces with blackberries were no longer to be found. im glad to say my children have grown up into a world where there are still blackberries to be picked, but I have similar worries now for their children, my grandchildren, who are now about the age they were in 1985.

    Blackberry Week 1985

     

    We found a wood, off the road, abandoned

    With sounds, fresh as the water of a hill stream on my face

    Of leaves and birds and far away.

     

    There, ground-hugging and twisted,

    The brambles wrapped the hill.

    We trod among them, risking hands for jewelled fruit

    Reluctantly given

     

    And, in the wide-eyed half-sleep of a nightmare I wonder

    When you are grown, children,

    Will you still go and find deserted woods?

    • This discussion thread made for such beautiful and inspiring reading for me. Thank you to all who posted. 

      Caroline

  • Right now I'm not sure that I have many words to add here, but I wanted to reply if only to add another voice, to say "I care about this".  I am often in despair at the destruction of so much beauty and life throughout the world, and although I don't have any clear answers as to how to change that, or even how to be with that, I do know that it helps when I discover that other people also care deeply about what is happening to this precious earth. So thank you to those who are getting involved in lost species day, and thank you for these responses here.

  • I was walking on a beach in Madagascar when I lived there some fifteen years ago. An umarked graveyard was eroding away and a skeleton had started to ditch out into the sand. Turning the corner of the 'graveyard' I came across a heap of what I initially thought was pottery, but looking at it carefully I realised the large fragments, everywhere, were the eggshell of the extinct Aepyornis. It is possible to buy reconstructed eggs on the street in Madagascar, but here I was holding the broken shells in my hands. Eggs are so often the symbol of hope, of birth, and renewal and yet these fragments indicated loss. For many years I thought they came from a hatchling, but just a few weeks ago I thought perhaps the eggs had been eaten by the all too mortal person whose remains I saw on the sand. I still have the fragments; some are longer than my fingers.

    From Wikipedia: Aepyornis, which was a giant, flightless ratite native to Madagascar, has been extinct since at least the 17th century. Aepyornis was one of the world's largest birds, believed to have been 3 metres (9.8 ft) tall and weighing 400 kilograms (880 lb). Remains of Aepyornis adults and eggs have been found; in some cases the eggs have a circumference of over 1 meter (3.3 ft) and a length up to 34 centimetres (13 in).The egg volume is about 160 times greater than a chicken egg

  • Thank you, Kamalamani, for this space. Thank you contributors for such thought- and feeling-provoking posts. This is my attempt at recognising stages in the loss of relationship.


    Flickering Shades

    The Ghost of Species Past

    See this Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris), a perennial herb cousin of Meadowsweet in the family Rosaceae, on its favoured dry pasture. Taste its bitter sweet tuberous roots and young leaves, cooked or raw. Smell its crushed mature leaves, like oil of Wintergreen, as they release methyl salicylate. Infuse dropwort's flowers for traditional medicine. Feel its therapeutic effects, as the methyl salicylate is metabolised to salicylic acid, a proven NSAID, like aspirin.

    There was balance there.

    The Ghost of Species Present

    Perhaps you may see the ghost orchid (Epipogium aphyllum), or perhaps not: declared Extinct in Britain in 2005, a single ghost orchid was subsequently discovered. Now Critically Endangered – one ghost orchid does not make a viable long-term population of a species – it flickers on the edge of existence. When it does appear, it occurs in beech, oak, pine and spruce forests. Ghost orchids obtain nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are associated with coniferous tree roots, thus they have no chlorophyll and do not photosynthesise. Being mostly subterranean, this ghost is named for its creamy-white to pinkish-brown colour during its fleeting appearances to flower in dark, damp woods.

    Patience. It awaits serendipity: a pollinator that has visited a fellow ghost orchid flower recently and nearby. Such visits have been fewer and fewer, and further and further between. We might never know the full extent of what we might lose by its passing.

    The Ghost of Species Yet to Come

    Scottish Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale) has been known for centuries – Highlanders and other north-western Europeans used it to flavour beer and discourage biting insects. Bog Myrtle oil has antibacterial properties which promote healthy skin, but it is also an abortifacient.

    Clinging to life, finding survival just that little bit harder with each rapid generation. Sense the air and the water, the light and the warmth, the shadow and the push of neighbours. Each individual knows only its local conditions and its individual success or failure to thrive there. But the collective intelligence of the plant species is there for us to grasp.

    Here the path bifurcates. Feel the slight indicative changes in climate pressures. Dread the heralding of another 'miracle' plant, of industrial harvesting scouring moorland to feed human hyperconsumerism until the fad passes.

    We don't have time enough to wait for natural evolution to refill these niches. Meanwhile, other connectees in the web adjust to their space change. So, we rush to isolate our chemical benefactors, to artificially evolve what we want from only a fragment of understanding. Evolution has a very long timescale for good reason. It is not finished, never finished. Can we listen? Can we wear much smaller shoes?
  • I wrote this poem (or rather it wrote me)
    On a "Meeting at the edge of the wild" event
    a couple of years ago. Feel free to forward it. Love Suhada
    ------------------------------
    Eco-amnesia

    I did not mean to kill the last of the eagles.
    I just forgot to feel my wings soaring high above the cliffs and crags.

    I did not mean to kill the last of the salmon.
    I just forgot the thrill of leaping through the surging foam.

    I did not mean to kill the last of the buffalo.
    I just forgot to feel the fear of galloping with the herd.

    I did not mean to kill the last of the spiders.
    I just forgot to feel the geometry and sway of weaving a silken web.

    I did not mean to kill the last of the foxgloves.
    I just forgot how it feels to glisten with mirror orbs of morning dew.

    I did not mean to kill the last of the honey bees.
    I just forgot the sound of the thrum at the heart of the hive.

    I did not mean to kill the last of the oak trees.
    I just forgot how it feels to stand for a hundred years.

    I did not mean to wreck our home.
    I just forgot how to dwell with you.

    Even when you told me what would happen, I forgot.

    Even when you tell me what is happening, I forget.

    Even when you show me what has happened, I forget.

    Please remind me.
    Please remind me.

    Suhada
    ------------------------------
    • Great poem. Thanks Suhada. 

  • I feel this loss intensely and thank you for your thought to mark the day. I live in an 'ostensibly' very beautiful part of the country, Suffolk, and it is, aesthetically, very beautiful, but the loss of wildness from the land sinks my soul to sadness. I know pockets of resistance and these give me heart but a land alive with wildlife, large and small, is a land to cherish, celebrate, die for even. I also want to share this beautiful mapping project 'What's Missing', which I came across in the David Brower centre in USA, California. http://www.whatismissing.net

    May we all know some species more intimately and continue cultivating and speaking the language of the land and soul. Love. Henry x 

  • When I walk my landscape I hear long ago echoes of wolves in the woods, and remember my living memories of seeing the sky blackened with flocks of starlings and circling hares roused by the harvesters in the corn - little did I realise how rapidly those machines were routing out their homes. In my minds eye I see stream alive with minnows and stickle backs. None of these are actually extinct yet - yet they have become rarities. Long may we remember. 
  • I've found myself mourning the loss of all the wild horses which used to roam this land and lands further afield. This mourning started when I was preparing to present and presented a workshop on 'telling our earth story' at the recent psychotherapy and the natural world event at the Eden project. I told the story of the pony I looked after for a year during my teens and the huge loss when she moved on - a loss that revisited me this month. This sense of loss extended to missing wild horses roaming our landscapes, beyond the pockets of horses on Exmoor, Dartmoor, the New Forest, and Snowdonia. I know these mountain and moorlands species haven't become completely extinct, but they have become enclosed between the man made lines of roads, fences, train tracks and banished to far smaller areas than they once knew. A lovely co-incidence happened when I met my friend, Sarah, for a cuppa last week (she wrote the beautiful and moving piece about the Paradise Parrot on this thread). She handed me a National Geographic (from Feb 15) which she'd had for a while with this lovely photo of a part Estonian native, part Shetland pony. She hadn't known that wild horses had been on my mind. We often have synchronicities like this and it particularly thrilled me this time, because this pony looks a lot like the pony I looked after in my youth, basking in the winter sun. So I'd like to remember wild horses and I'd like to celebrate synchronicity and connection as we remember and commemorate.54794896?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024 

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