Japanese river otter: Extinct in 2012
Image: Hiroshi Kibe
The Japanese river otter was once widespread in Japan. The last official sighting was at the mouth of the Shinjo River in Susaki; it hasn’t been seen since. It was officially declared extinct in 2012.
This otter measured between 25 and 31 inches long, with dark brown fur and short webbed feet. Being a nocturnal animal, these otters only left their dens at dark to forage for fish, crabs, and shrimps.
Japanese river otters were heavily sought after for their pelts which were flaunted as a sign of wealth and prestige. Hunting regulations eventually helped their populations bounce back slightly, but human development and pollution destroyed their food sources and environment to a point where they could no longer exist.