Of all the creatures who previously made their home on the British Isles, many are still alive today in some capacity, somewhere around the globe. However, this cannot be said of the gigantesque woolly mammoth, of whom the last of its species died around 4000 years ago. The average height for a male woolly mammoth is known to have been between nine-to-eleven feet tall, with its cousin, the Asian Steppe mammoth, being the largest of the species at thirteen-to-fifteen feet tall. They weighed up to six-thousand kilograms. Recent scientific research has discovered that mammoths were active on the British Isles until somewhere around ten thousand years ago. It is believed that they were wiped out sometime during the last ice age. However, some experts argue that it was not climate change that was responsible for wiping them out, but rather human hunters for whom their fur and tusks were an extremely valuable resource.
Hunted to extinction in Britain during the 18th century, the wolf was until relatively recently a native inhabitant of the British Isles. In packs, they were known to be deadly predators to both other animals and humans alike. According to writings from ancient British chroniclers, they used to be extremely numerous across the Isles. Many Medieval British kings and officials offered a bounty to hunters for wolf pelts and heads in an attempt to cull the population. While they no longer exist in Britain today outside of zoos, the species continues to thrive across the rest of the world.
The elk (or moose) is a peaceful creature that was hunted to extinction in the prehistoric age by human hunters who desired their corpses for the resources they provided, such as their antlers and fur coats. They are related to deer, but are actually much larger, and much more fearsome than their cousins owing to their larger form and their sturdy, thick antlers. Recent efforts have been made to introduce the elk back into the wildlife of the United Kingdom, particularly in Scotland. However, for now they only exist in national wildlife parks and zoos.
A surprising addition to this list may be that of the fearsome predator lynx, a close relative of the tiger and other members of the Felidae family (cats, lions, jaguars etc.) While they have survived across the world in varying amounts, the lynx went extinct in Britain quite some time ago. Researchers believe that the lynx lived and thrived on the British Isles as a highly deadly, highly successful predator until just over a thousand years ago in which they are believed to have been driven to extinction due to human hunting.
The mighty bear is a more recently extinct species of wildlife that previously inhabited Britain. Persistent human persecution and the loss of their habitats from deforestation and other such activities gradually culled the population of native bears to the point of extinction sometime during the Middle Ages. During their stay in Britain, they were known to feed on a large number of mammals and often attack humans that encroached too close to their habitats. Bears were known to be thoroughly dangerous creatures and were prized by hunters and merchants for their pelts. As such, enticing rewards were often offered for a successful bear hunt. They are commonly found in other parts of the world, and a recent multi-million zoological initiative to reintroduce bears and wolves into Britain’s wildlife has seen them return to the country in carefully guarded enclosures.