anhinga_anhinga (anhinga_anhinga) wrote,
anhinga_anhinga
anhinga_anhinga

Scientists suggest relocating African species to North America

Lions and elephants on the Great Plains?

Let's do it?

upd: a better reference (and the one which will probably stay up unlike the CNN article):
http://economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=4292600





"If a group of prominent ecologists have their way, lions and elephants could someday be roaming the Great Plains of North America.

The idea of transplanting African wildlife to this continent is being greeted with gasps and groans from other scientists and conservationists who recall previous efforts to relocate foreign species halfway around the world, often with disastrous results.

But the proposal's supporters say it could help save some species from extinction in Africa, where protection is spotty and habitats are vanishing. They say the relocated animals could also restore the biodiversity in North America to a condition closer to what it was before humans overran the landscape more than 10,000 years ago.

Most modern African species never lived on the American prairie, the scientists acknowledge. But some of their biological cousins like mastodons, camels and saber-toothed cats, roamed for more than 1 million years alongside antelope and herds of bison until Ice Age glaciers retreated and humans started arriving.

The rapid extinction of dozens of large mammal species in North America -- perhaps due to a combination of climate change and overhunting -- triggered a landslide of changes to the environmental landscape. Relocating large animals to vast ecological parks and private reserves would begin to repair the damage, proponents say, while offering new ecotourism opportunities to a withering region.

The scientists' plan appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. It is attracting interest from some influential circles, including CNN founder Ted Turner, America's largest private landowner. He owns huge ranches in several states to support his commercial bison operation and personal conservation initiatives.

But the plan is also generating criticism on both sides of the conservation debate.[...]"



"[...]The authors of the new plan say they are not discouraged.

"We are not saying this is going to be easy," said Cornell University ecologist Josh Donlan, the lead author of the proposal. "There are huge and substantial risks and obstacles."

The plan grew from a retreat at Turner's New Mexico ranch -- a 155,000-acre property in the foothills of the Gila Mountains that contains a mix of ecosystems ranging from desert grasslands to pine forests.[...]"
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