The Dodo Bird (Raphus cucullatus) inhabited the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and lived undisturbed till the Portugese set foot on the island in 1505. The bird having lost its need and ability to fly became a easy source of fresh meat for the sailors of the ships that stopped over at the Mauritius, many of which were engaged in the spice trade.
After the Protugese, came the Dutch which used the island as a penal colony. Pigs, monkeys and uninvited rats were brought along to the island with the convicts. The bird nested on the ground, therefore allowing those animals to have easy access to the vulnerable eggs.
Both human exploitation and introduced species have significantly reduced dodo numbers. Within 100 years, the arrival of humans on the island of Mauritius has brought this once abundant bird to extinction. The last bird was killed in 1681.
No complete specimens of the bird has been preserved. The only available, are fragments and sketches. The Dodo was only one of the many birds that have been driven to extinction on the island of Mauritius. Only 21 species of birds out of the 45 that originally inhabitated on the island of Mauritius survived when the dense Mauritian forest was converted into tea and sugar plantations in the 19th century.
The extinction of the Dodo also has an impact on the trees on the Mauritius island. Scientists found out that there are species of tree on the Mauritius that has stopped germinating for the past 300 years. As the average life span of this specie is about 300 years, they would soon die out and become extinct. It was not a coincident that the tree stopped germinating 300 years ago and the Dodo became extinct 300 years ago. In fact, the dodo ate the fruit of this tree, and it was only by passing through the Dodo's digestive system that the seeds became active and could grow. Luckily, some people discovered that domestic turkey gullets could sufficiently do the same. They have used turkeys to begin a new generation of the tree, which is now called the dodo tree. If these seedlings survive to produce their own seeds, the species will be saved.
Now, more than 300 years after the Dodo became extinct, another specie was to follow as a direct consequence. Will more species die out due to the extinction of others ? Birds are frequently responsible for the natural pollination and seed dispersal of trees. How will their extinction impact the forest they live in?