Extinctions are occurring at an unprecedented rate as a consequence of human activities. Our March 2020 issue shines a spotlight on this pressing matter, featuring six articles on species at risk of extinction and ways to assess extinction likelihood. This special section is accompanied by a Briefly spotlight and an Editorial on Schrödinger’s cat extinction paradox. Our cover photo depicts the last male of the now extinct Catarina pupfish. The issue also includes a special section on reintroduction and translocation.

Find out more about this issue’s contents, including our Editor’s picks, below.


  • The extinction of the Catarina pupfish Megupsilon aporus and the implications for the conservation of freshwater fish in Mexico – Valdés González et al.
  • Inferring the extinction of species known only from a single specimen – Roberts & Jarić
  • To name those lost: assessing extinction likelihood in the Australian vascular flora – Silcock et al.
  • A little-known endemic caught in the South-east Asian extinction crisis: the Annamite striped rabbit Nesolagus timminsiTilker et al. (see below for an update on this research in our Conservation news section & check out their blog post here)
  • The illegal pet trade is driving Madagascar’s ploughshare tortoise to extinction – Mandimbihasina et al.
  • Assessing the global conservation status of the rock rose Helianthemum caput-felisSulis et al.

Catarina pupfish Megupsilon aporus. Photo: Christopher Martin.

Behind the cover

The last male Catarina pupfish Megupsilon aporus, photographed in the laboratory of Christopher Martin at the University of California, Berkeley. Extinctions are occurring at an unprecedented rate as a consequence of human activities. The freshwater Catarina pupfish, endemic to Mexico and the sole species of the genus Megupsilon became extinct in 2014, despite efforts to maintain the species in captivity by the Martin lab and others. The loss of this species has evolutionary and ecological implications, and highlights the crisis of freshwater fish extinctions. To conserve the c. 200 freshwater fish species threatened with extinction in Mexico the country urgently needs a national strategy with improved policies for ecosystem management and water use. For further details, click here. (Photograph © Christopher Martin)

Editorial Schrödinger’s cat extinction paradox – D.L. Roberts & M. Fisher

This issue’s Editorial provides an overview of the main challenges surrounding the ever-pressing extinction crisis: from Romeo’s Error and Schrödinger’s cat extinction paradox, to the emotive response this topic evokes, Roberts & Fisher explore the uncertainties of extinction threats and remind us that there are, nevertheless, glimmers of hope. All articles mentioned in this Editorial are freely available as a Virtual Issue.

‘Not unexpectedly the pages of this journal have often touched on the subject of extinction—from the Latin exstinguere, to quench—whether the risk of extinction or an investigation of whether a taxon is extinct. This issue of Oryx revisits this theme, examining cases of species that are either extinct or threatened with extinction to varying degrees.’

Tuatara Sphenodon punctatus .

Reintroduction and translocation

  • Supportive release techniques provide no reintroduction benefit when efficacy and uptake is low – Bannister et al.
  • Choice or opportunity: are post-release social groupings influenced by familiarity or reintroduction protocols? – Moseby et al.
  • Survival and growth of tuatara Sphenodon punctatus following translocation from the Cook Strait to warmer locations in their historic range – Price et al.

Editor’s picks

  • Ecotourism impacts on the behaviour of whale sharks: an experimental approach – Montero-Quintana et al.
  • The burning question: does fire affect habitat selection and forage preference of the black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis in East African savannahs? – Anderson et al.
  • Rhinoceros ownership and attitudes toward legalization of global horn trade within South Africa’s private wildlife sector – Rubino & Pienaar
  • Sustainable wildlife extraction and the impacts of socio-economic change among the Kukama-Kukamilla people of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peru – Kirkland et al.

Annamite striped rabbit Nesolagus timminsi. Learn more in Tilker et al.’s article and conservation news item. Photo: Andrew Tilker.

Conservation News

  • No longer Data Deficient: recategorizing the Annamite striped rabbit Nesolagus timminsi as Endangered – Tilker et al.
  • New collaborations for conservation leadership development – Corrigan et al.
  • Taita Mountain dwarf galago is extant in the Taita Hills of Kenya – Rosti et al.
  • Privately funded land purchase programme in Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, India – Srivastava et al. 


Emma joined the Oryx team in 2018, having previously completed a BSc in Geography at the University of Sussex and an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London. She has a keen interest in marine conservation and has experience working on sea turtle, coral reef, and tropical fish monitoring projects. Her previous research includes an ethological study on the impact of human enrichment on the welfare of captive giant Pacific octopus, and an investigation into the barriers to increased conservation involvement in European zoos.