It’s a much-debated question: Should we be reintroducing species to their former habitats?
After all, most modern-day species extinctions came about because of human interference, from poaching to habitat destruction. And once those species are gone from their native habitats, the ecosystems change in response.
But should we restore the balance? Bring back, say, elephants to South America and tapirs to Florida? Or, says Conservancy scientist Michael Jennings, is that approach too much like toying with a miniature train set?
Jennings points out that many introduced species have caused huge biological disasters, from cane toads in Australia to mongoose in the Caribbean. In both cases, the introduced species is destroying native animals.
But in the end, says Jennings, conservationists have a very practical reason for NOT reintroducing species:
“Populating the Americas or Europe with wild elephants, wildebeests, cheetahs and lions would take a level of effort that would dwarf John Hammond’s grandest Jurassic Park fantasy. In the meantime, we have to ask ourselves, what other critically important conservation priorities would we not do instead?”
(Image: Wildebeests in Kenya. Source: Demosh, via Creative Commons.)