Lazarus taxons, or species, which scientists thought to have been extinct, are reported to still be in existence. The term “Lazarus” is coined from the Gospel of John in the Christian Bible, in which Jesus Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.
1. Australian Night Parrot
The Australian Night Parrot is well known for being one of the world’s most obscure and mysterious birds. Between 1912 and 1979, there were no definite sightings of the bird and it was considered to be extinct.
In 2013, a naturalist, John Young, captured a photo of the elusive parrot – proving the species to be still in existence. In Australia, over the last few years, sightings of the night parrot have been recorded. Naturalists spotted a young parrot in February 2018. It likely hatched in late 2017. The size of the mysterious bird’s population is unknown.
2. Javan Elephant
Javan elephants became extinct sometime after the 15th century — due to the Sultan of Sulu centuries ago, or so scientists thought, when the Europeans arrived in Southeast Asia. In 2003, scientists discovered through DNA research, the Borneo pygmy elephants of Asia were likely descendants of the Javan elephant.
Borneo is a giant, rugged island in Southeast Asia’s Malay Archipelago, shared by the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, Indonesian Kalimantan, and the tiny nation of Brunei. These pygmy elephants in Borneo, on the giant island, could be the last of the Javan elephant population. There are an estimated 1,000 of these elephants in the wild, mostly in the Malaysian state of Sabah.
3. Wallace Bee
The Wallace Bee can grow up to an inch and a half long with a wingspan of 2.5 inches. It has large mandibles similar to that of a stag beetle. It feeds on nectar and pollen. Alfred Russel Wallace initially discovered the species in 1858, given the apparent name “Wallace’s Giant Bee.” It is also known as the “Giant Mason Bee.”
The largest bee in the world was believed extinct, but 38 years later, researchers rediscovered the Wallace Bee in a high termite mound on the Indonesian islands of the North Moluccas. Massive deforestation for agriculture purposes threatens the bee’s habitat, and its size and scarcity make it an objective for collectors.
It’s currently legal for this species of bee to be sold abroad. Entomologists are presently pushing for this species to be classified as endangered and to be protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which governs international trade in threatened species.
4. Fernandina Island Galápagos tortoise
An adult female Fernandina giant tortoise is a species of Galápagos tortoise last seen in 1906. In the following years there were discoveries of alleged Fernandina giant tortoise droppings and cactus bite marks in 1964 and 2013. However, no living tortoises were spotted nor were any remains discovered, resulting in scientists presuming this giant tortoise to be extinct.
In February 2019, researchers rediscovered an individual female wandering around a Galápagos island for the first time in more than 110 years. The tortoise was transferred to a breeding center on the nearby island of Santa Cruz for conservation and genetic tests. There is no male Fernandina giant tortoise known to be alive; however, females can store sperm for a prolonged time, giving conservationists and scientists a glimpse of hope.
5. Formosan Clouded Leopard
The Formosan clouded leopard is a subspecies from the leopards of South East Asia and is indigenous to the mountains of Taiwan. Due to widespread logging of the leopard’s natural habitat, the leopard was forced to retreat into the Jade and Tawu mountains. In 1986, 70 indigenous hunters reported that the last confirmed sighting of the Formosan clouded leopard occurred in Tawu Mountain area in 1983.
The Paiwan people, from an indigenous tribe, were patrolling the jungle. In January 2019, during the patrols, there were two sightings of the feline. Referred to as “Li’uljaw” by the Paiwan people, one patrol observed a leopard climbing a tree before sprinting up a rock face to hunt goats. The other forest patrol described seeing a leopard darting past a scooter before dashing up a tree and going out of sight. As a result of the sightings, hunting is banned in the area, and the indigenous elders requested the Forestry Bureau to stop logging and engaging in other disruptive activities.
6. Magic Rabbit
The lli Pika, dubbed as the “Magic Rabbit,” is a distant relative of the domestic rabbit and was first discovered in 1983 in the Tianshan Mountains in northwestern China. Since then, its estimated population has decreased by 70%. There are fewer than 1,000 left and the species is currently considered endangered. In 2008, the animal was listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Conservationists and scientists alike had been unable to spot the lli Pika, fearing its possible extinction, until 20 years later, in 2014, the lli Pika was located again.
The lli Pika, or teddy-like rabbit, is only 20 centimeters long, weights 250 g and lives on sloping bare rock faces, feeding on grasses at high elevations. Global warming and disease are presumed to be factors in the declining population. The Ili Pika isn’t included on China’s List of Wildlife under Special State Protection, part of the country’s 1988 Wildlife Protection Law, and no further conservation efforts have been made to protect the lli Pika. Conservationist, Li Weidong has dedicated his life to protecting the Magic Rabbit, advocating for a nature reserve organization to help protect the animal.