Jesse Mulligan: We just lost another species to extinction - it must be the last

OPINION: We hear a lot about the danger of animals going extinct, but it's not often you can actually see an entire species obliterated.

But that's exactly what's happened to a precious native bug in Canterbury - and it wasn't killed by rats or possums, but by those known better for protecting nature. 

Iwi. Specifically, Ngai Tahu Farming

As part of a treaty settlement 19 years ago, Ngai Tahu were returned land along the Waimakariri river.

The forest was the last remaining home of the Eyrewell beetle, but Ngai Tahu converted it into a dairy farm.

You can read the whole story in Farah Hancock's Newsroom piece, but here's what you need to know.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) repeatedly emailed Ngai Tahu saying "please can we work together and protect these beetles, they're the very last ones on earth". 

But the business ignored those emails and kept chopping, until that forest was decimated.

I've been reading The Lorax to my three-year-old son recently. It's about the Onceler and his family who chop down every tree until there's nothing left. That book was written almost 50 years ago, but it couldn't be a better description of what's just happened in Canterbury.

It's a real shame we couldn't save it.

It's too late for us to do anything for that beetle - but it's not too late for us to talk about what went wrong.

Not too late for us to point the finger at people like the CEO and say 'how can you talk about kaitiakitanga when you've literally just destroyed a creature that was there a million years before all of us?'

We've lost too many native animals already; I want to make sure this is the last.

It's not our job to tell iwi what to do with their land. But if any private business wipes out an entire species in the course of making a profit then we shouldn't be scared to go public about it.

I'm not scared, but I am angry tonight.

I hope you're feeling angry too. At least I hope you care.

Because, as The Lorax says, unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Jesse Mulligan is a host of Three's The Project.