eXtinct and Endangered animals: lessons in history and conservation

At one point of time, when V’s  dinosaur obsession was at a peak, the question of why we can’t see them anymore came up very often. We explained to her how they are extinct now. But also that they were real, because we can see their fossils.

“How does an animal become extinct?”

This was a question she kept coming back to. And we kept asking her of possible reasons. She knows about death ( thanks to mosquitoes we kill every night) and figured out it was possible that all dinos just dropped down dead.

Luckily, the Usborne book of dinosaurs has a page on how T-Rexs fought amongst themselves and many died. V accepted this argument for Trex but she still wanted to know how vegetarians like Brachiosaurus could die out. We explored the possibility of something catastrophic like Ice age and she considered it for a few weeks. Recently, we saw the movie Ice Age and she has warmed up(pun unintended) to the idea.


She loves Cave baby by Julia Donaldson and we spent a few weeks talking about prehistoric man and life. That man could live in caves, without fans and lights, and books and toys was a fantastic thought. Some of her questions went like this.
Why was he living in a cave?
Why didn’t he have a house?
Did they not know how to make houses then?
Did they go to work?
Why didn’t he have clothes like us?

Once she grasped the concept of many many many years ago, she accepted that mammoths could be ancestors of elephants. But where did the mammoths go? How can so many animals become extinct?

“Will dogs and cats become extinct too?”

Okay. So here, the biology teacher in me had to intervene. I told her about rate of births vs deaths. We also read up a little on evolution thanks to this  beautiful book. And as long as we took care not to harm animals or their habitats, they would most probably remain safe.
We researched a lot on these, and seen in the image are some of our favourite books on this subject. I also highly recommend S is for Sabertooth as a starting point.

“Why do people use animals?”

This question hit me hard. The Wild and Free books talks of about a dozen animals, their natural habitats and why they have become endangered.V was aghast to read that rhinos are killed for their horns and tigers for their skin.V also had a simple question when we spoke of the reducing natural habitats. Why don’t we build tall buildings? That way we can also live and we don’t need to cut trees too!


Recently, while speaking about where poop goes after being flushed, we spoke about water treatment, sewage water, etc. And she has been spending a lot of time thinking about pollution of resources, although she doesn’t know the term yet.
Books like Dear Greenpeace have opened her thoughts towards organisations and people who strive to save the environment and animals. She has been a lot more pro-active with our waste segregation and a lot more observant while visiting zoos.

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