Countless species of wildlife are on the endangered list today, as a result of ongoing urbanization, deforestation, and pollution. Compared to these combined destructive forces, all attempts at wildlife enhancement and preservation – especially in the developing and underdeveloped parts of the world – seem ill-suited or limited in scope. However, scientists in Brazil have announced a new and startling plan which might just be the difference because success and failure.
The groundbreaking initiative is being carried out as a partnership between the Brasilia Zoological Garden and the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, aka. EMBRAPA. Thus far, their efforts include such species as the jaguar, the maned wolf, and the black lion, as well as numerous others that are on the Red List of Threatened Species, as compiled by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Currently, the initiative is in phase two of development. Phase one involved the collection of samples of genetic material, or germplasm, in the form of blood, sperm, somatic cells and umbilical cord cells, which were gathered over the course of two years. The researchers harvested the genetic material primarily from dead specimens of animals native to the Cerrado, the vast tropical savannah biome that stretches across central Brazil. The next phase will be the training of researchers at the zoo.
According to Carlos Frederico Martins, an EMBRAPA researcher, their organization has already been responsible for the cloning of cows. This began in 2001 with birth of a calf named Vitória, and has since gone on to include over 100 specimens made up largely of cows and horses. They hope to transfer the knowledge gained from these experiments to the staff over at Brasilia Zoological Gardens so the techniques can be adapted to wildlife. Currently, the plan is reserved to increasing the number of captive specimens of endangered animals, but that they are prepared to release these cloned animals into the wild if need be.
Countries like the US and South Korea are also working on similar plans to rehabilitate endangered species of wild animals. In there cases, as well as Brazil’s, the lack of prior knowledge is cited as an potential obstacle to success. As such it may be many years yet before animals such as wild tigers, jaguars, the Gray Brocket Deer, Bison and even simians are successfully cloned in captivity. In the meantime, here’s hoping other conservation efforts fare better than they have in the past! As well all know, humans aren’t the only ones in danger of suffering from Climate Change!
Source: Inter Press Service News Agency