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Reading Exercise 6b

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Reading Exercise 6a

Reading Exercise 6b

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Reading Exercise 6b

Updated on : 15 Feb 2023

3 mins read

Published on : 15 Feb 2023

Many plants and animals went extinct due to human activity. Few are as well known as the dodo. What stories have you heard about the dodo? You may have heard that they were fat, slow, and stupid. You may have heard that humans hunted them to the point of extinction. Legends and folktales do not tell the whole story.
The only place the dodo ever lived was the island of Mauritius (pronounced like "more-ish-us"). Mauritius is smaller than Rhode Island. It is off the coast of Madagascar, a much larger island east of Africa. There were no mammals on Mauritius before humans arrived. The dodo descended from pigeons that had flown to Mauritius. These pigeons found that this island had clean water and lots of fruit. Also, no predators lived there. They could relax and live in peace. Over millions of years, they evolved to become big and flightless. They became dodos.
Humans discovered Mauritius during the Age of Exploration. The Dutch colonized the island in 1638. They tried to farm and settle the land. They wanted to produce exports. They wanted the island to be more like their homes in the Netherlands. They brought pigs, chickens, cats, and other animals, even deer. They also brought the rats that hid on their ships.
The colonists hunted and ate many dodos. The birds had never faced predators. They were not stupid though. They learned to run from humans. They might have even adapted and survived, if it weren't for the other new mammals on Mauritius.
The cats and rats ate the dodos' eggs. Since dodos could not fly, they were unable to hide their eggs in trees like other birds. The new pigs, chickens, and livestock on the island now competed with the dodos for food. The dodos had to go deeper and deeper into the forests of Mauritius to survive. At the same time, the colonists were clearing the forests to make farmland. This total ecological attack was too much for these great birds.
The last recorded encounter with a dodo happened in 1662. A shipwrecked sailor wrote that he and his friends had caught a dodo. He said that the bird made a great noise and all the bird's friends ran to assist it. The men then captured them all. Truly this bird was too noble for this world.
No one noticed the extinction of the dodo when it happened. The concept didn't even exist at the time.  The word "extinction" wouldn't even be used in that way for another 100 years. People just weren't aware of their impact on the environment. They didn't know about the delicate balance of life. In 1833, a study of the dodo helped to prove the concept of human-induced extinction.
To make things worse, the Dutch colonies failed. The Dutch abandoned Mauritius in 1710. Sadly, the dodo was not the only animal that was wiped out. It was only the most popular. Hundreds of plants and animals from Mauritius are now gone forever due to human activity.

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