|08-19-2005, 01:18 PM||#1|
Billy=Semi Tough Big Guy
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: between 5,000 and 10,000 feet elevation
Elephants in Kansas?
Maybe Mock's next kitty will grow to 400 pounds.
A group of prominent ecologists is proposing a controversial idea: relocating wildlife from Africa, including lions and elephants, to the Great Plains of North America.
Supporters of the proposal say it could help save some species from extinction in Africa, where protection is limited and natural habitats are vanishing.
Scientists acknowledge that most modern African species never lived on the American prairie. However, 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.
Experts say the relocated animals could help restore biodiversity in North America to a condition similar to what it was 10,000 years ago.
"We do see a century-long vision where we would have this vast ecological park in the Midwest with free roaming carnivores, free roaming elephants and the other large biodiversity that we once had 13,000 years ago," says Josh Donlan, a biologist from Cornell University.
Critics of the proposal argue that scientists should be focusing more attention of preserving species native to North America.
"It is not restoration to introduce animals that were never here," said University of Washington anthropologist Donald K. Grayson. "Why introduce Old World camels and lions when there are North American species that could benefit from the same kind of effort?"
Other critics wonder whether people would support African lions making a home on the range, given the opposition to the reintroduction of native wolves in the rural west.
The scientists' plan is published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.