Saddle-backed giant tortoise endemic to Rodrigues, a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, was exterminated for food, fat, and oil— slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands. Exceptionally tall with an upturned carapace, it browsed taller vegetation and gathered in large herds in the evenings, posting sentinels at the corners of the herd even though they were incapable of defending themselves.
Two-feet long from its nose to the end of its tail, brownish with large reddish stripes, the kawekaweau, Delcourt’s sticky-toed or giant gecko is known from only two encounters, an individual found under the bark of a dead rata tree and killed there by a Māori chief in 1870 and an unlabeled stuffed specimen in the basement of the Natural History Museum of Marseille found in 1986.
This giant ameiva, a whiptail lizard, from Martinique or from Les Iles de la Petite Terre in the Guadeloupean archipelago, was wiped out by a hurricane or by invasive predators.
The Cape Verde giant skink, a.k.a. Bibron’s or Cocteau’s skink, lost its habitat on the Cape Verde islands as humans and livestock turned the islands into deserts.
This burrowing boa, light brown with dark spots on its back and pink marbled with blackish on its belly, was last seen in 1975 on Round Island in Mauritius.
The giant tortoises of the Galápagos captivated Charles Darwin. Herbivores, they could survive for months without food or water. Buccaneers and whalers ate them in by the thousands, and goats were introduced that ate much of the island’s vegetation. A program to exterminate the goats was successful, but it was too late for Lonesome George, the last of his species.