by M.J. Leach, Australia
She had a given name —Gump— & a secluded home— Christmas Island. She was the last known member of her species: an individual known to scientists & keepers as both a friend & an endling. She received close attention & affection from humans after losing her reptilian kin. She was a lone Christmas Island Forest Skink (Emoia nativitatis). It was Jan. 2014 when scientists put her on a list of Australian threatened species, classifying her kind as critically endangered. Humans combed the rainforests coating Christmas Island’s 135 km2 area in search of a candidate mate who was nowhere to be found. Gump was found lifeless on the eve of winter 2014, only months after her kind was belatedly listed as critically endangered. She left us a legacy & another lesson.
Acknowledgements: ‘In Memory of an Island Species’ first appeared in Jalmurra ahead of republication in NatureVolve and Natural Philosophies (Recent Work Press, 2022).