Kangaroo rat no longer believed to be extinct

The kangaroo rat, a small mammal which was declared endangered, and possibly extinct as far back as 1994, has suddenly re-emerged. 

Researchers in southern California are, understandably, delighted at the revelation. The San Quintin kangaroo rat had not been seen since the mid-80s, which led to the Mexican authorities making the declaration.

The area of San Quintin, which is located 118 miles south of Ensenada, California, had become an agricultural hotspot, which led to drastic changes in the ecosystem. The decline in species numbers from the ’70s onward has been attributed to this.

This photo, taken by Troy L Best in 1989, was long believed to be the last evidence of a living kangaroo rat.

Science described the kangaroo rat as a ‘key species in arid areas across western North America, dispersing seeds and feeding predators such as coyotes and foxes.’

‘The San Quintin kangaroo rat is about 12 centimeters long, with a long, tufted tail and enormous hind legs that allow it to leap about 2 meters and speed away at 10 kilometers per hour. They once lived by the thousands in a narrow coastal valley stretching 150 kilometers along the Pacific coast of northern Baja California.” – Science, Apr 30th 2018

As notted in Smithsonian Magazine:

There’s a feeling of anticipation and excitement when you check the memory card of a camera trap that you left placed for days, or when you open a Sherman trap to see what animal is inside,” write the researchers in a blog post. “It’s not unlike the feeling of being a child discovering something new…a child who discovers the world around him or her and is amazed by its wonders.” The team adds that that feeling “multiplies exponentially” when rediscovering a species presumed extinct. 

According to Independent.ie

Jorge Andrade, adaptive manager co-ordinator at Terra Peninsular, a non-profit organisation working with San Diego Natural History Museum for a conservation plan, said: “You can’t imagine how happy we are to find out that after all these efforts and with the help of The Nat we can be part of this rediscovery and continue working on its protection.

“It’s very gratifying for us to think that the San Quintin kangaroo rat persists in the area to some extent, thanks to the efforts of the staff, board members, and associated researchers of our organisation.