The Dodo Bird and dinosaurs are undoubtedly the most recognizable extinct species. The dodo has become the quintessential symbol of biodiversity loss because it is the first known species whose extinction can be directly attributed to human activity.
It was in the mid 16th century, when humans arrived on the island of Mauritius, that things started going wrong for the dodo. This 45lb flightless bird was completely fearless of humans. But believing that these new island inhabitants would share the land with respect for its original inhabitants and live in balance with its surroundings was something the dodos would come to regret. Only 80 years and many meals of roast dodo later, the species was completely extinct. But this was the 16th century, so can we really blame our ancestors for the ignorance of their actions?
Right now in Nagoya, Japan, the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is going on and Canada has just been named winner of the Dodo Award for leading the way to species extinction. This honour was bestowed upon us for our unhelpful behaviour in Access and Benefits Sharing negotiations, particularly in relation to Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. Canada was the only country to block reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the text. Action today ripples through the future, and a lot can change in 80 years. Whether it’s for better or for worse is our choice. This time, claiming ignorance is not an option.