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" width="8" height="8"/> African animals to America, ?
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necrolyte
post Aug 18 2005, 02:08 PM
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050818/ap_on_sc/wild_america

Plan Would Move African Animals to U.S.

By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer 51 minutes ago

DENVER - Lions stalking deer in the stubble of a Nebraska corn field. Elephants trumpeting across Colorado's high plains. Cheetah slouching through the West Texas scrub. Prominent ecologists are floating an audacious plan that sounds like a "Jumanji" sequel transplant African wildlife to the Great Plains of North America.
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Their radical proposal 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.

The authors contend it could help save Africa's poster species from extinction, where protection is spotty and habitat is vanishing.

They also believe the relocated animals could restore biodiversity on this continent to a condition closer to what nature was like before humans overran the landscape.

They suggest starting with zoo animals. The perimeters of newly created reserves would be fenced.

"We aren't backing a truck up to some dump site in the dark and turning loose a bunch of elephants," insisted Cornell University ecologist Harry W. Greene, one of the plan's authors.

While most modern African species never lived on the American prairie, the scientists believe that today's animals could duplicate the natural roles played by their departed, even larger cousins mastodons, camels and saber-toothed cats that roamed for more than 1 million years alongside antelope and bison.

Relocating large animals to vast ecological parks and private reserves over the next century would begin to restore the balance, they said, while offering new ecotourism opportunities to a withering region.

The scientists' plan appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. It echoes the controversial 1987 Buffalo Commons proposal by Frank and Deborah Popper of Rutgers University to cut down fences of abandoned farms and reconnect corridors for native prairie wildlife.

A similar Pleistocene park is being established in Siberia. Scientists are importing bison from Canada to replace the native variety that vanished about 500 years ago.

Some ecologists said it is important to try such a bold plan. Otherwise, they said hundreds more species are likely to go extinct in coming decades and entire ecosystems like grasslands will fundamentally change.

"We're beginning to get backed into a corner," said Terry Chapin of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. "It's something worth trying."

But the plan is triggering thunderclaps of criticism, with discouraging words like "stupid" and "defeatist" raining down in torrents.

Scientists point to Australia, which was overrun by rabbits and poisonous cane toads after misguided species relocations.

"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?"

Given the continuing political struggle over the reintroduction of wolves in the rural West, others wonder how African lions would be at home on the range.

"I wonder how many calves or lambs it would take to feed a family of lions for a month?" said Steve Pilcher, executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "We sort of know what it takes for wolves, but something tells me we would be in a whole new ballgame."

Some conservationists said the plan would further damage the prospects of African species on their native turf, as well as that continent's hopes for sustainable economic development.

"Such relocations would affect future tourism opportunities," said Elizabeth Wamba, the East Africa spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Nairobi, Kenya. "The welfare of the animals would have been reduced by transporting and exposing them to different eco-climatic conditions."

The idea of "rewilding" the Great Plains grew from a retreat at Ladder Ranch near Truth or Consequences, N.M. The 155,550-acre property is owned by media mogul and conservationist Ted Turner.

Ecologists at the ranch are planning to reintroduce the Bolson tortoise. These 100-pound burrowers were found across the Southwest, but now survive in a corner of northern Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert.

The extent of Turner's interest in the larger rewilding plan was not immediately clear. Mike Phillips, who directs the Turner Endangered Species Fund and has directed wolf reintroductions in the Yellowstone region, was unavailable for comment.

The renewed presence of many large mammals might turn back the ecological clock in a variety of subtle ways.

For example, elephants eat woody plants that have overtaken grasslands. Could they act as Rototillers to restore the prairie?

Lions would be a harder sell, even if they would thin elk herds.

"Lions eat people," said co-author Josh Donlan of Cornell. "There has to be a pretty serious attitude shift on how you view predators."




*wants to see lions eating really stupid fat American tourists who think they're friendly*
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Russian
post Aug 18 2005, 03:33 PM
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my dream is for the same thing to be done in australia. We have too much space for not enough cool things.


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necrolyte
post Aug 18 2005, 08:20 PM
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Errr-considerng the Cane Toad Debacle, thats not going to happen very soon.
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xcr
post Aug 18 2005, 08:29 PM
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It seems to be a bad idea, though a lion is not quite the same thing as a toad, and would (I suspect) be more self limiting in numbers, simply do to the limits in food, and in being easier to find and as such, to kill.

It should not be done, but it might be interesting to see...
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Sovy Kurosei
post Aug 18 2005, 11:45 PM
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We should do it. It will help weed out the idiots that think dangerous animals are friendly like those in cartoons.

Plus I always wanted to try out elephant. I think Edward would agree with me. :D
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xcr
post Aug 18 2005, 11:55 PM
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You can alwas go to Africa and pay ~$10000 to shoot one...
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Shankar
post Aug 19 2005, 12:11 AM
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We need giant crocodiles here.
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Sovy Kurosei
post Aug 19 2005, 06:34 PM
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QUOTE("xcr")
You can alwas go to Africa and pay ~$10000 to shoot one...


Too expensive.

Anyways, I think pointing to Australia for being the victim of being overrun with foreign species isn't that great of an example. From what I recall a lot of the domestic species in Australia are inferior compared to species found in North America and Africa. Plus the species released into Australia didn't have any natural predators like the case of the rabbits. Or the case with the Cane Toad, there were no other serious competitors for resources.
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libvertaruan
post Aug 19 2005, 07:04 PM
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I wouldn't have a problem with Elephants relocated here, but...the dangerous cats, I don't think so.
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necrolyte
post Aug 19 2005, 10:27 PM
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Catwoman is so crappy that it is far more dangerous than any of those cats.
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libvertaruan
post Aug 20 2005, 08:11 PM
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Francis Bacon makes me want to torture the food out of a pig
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Halle Berry is a dangerous woman?
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Nalvaros
post Aug 21 2005, 05:02 PM
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Well, the Cane toad is a problem here because well..... its gobbling everything up and at the same time there arn't any predators for it. Thanks to it's poisonous nature, anything that eats it dies soon after. Furthermore, its proving nigh impossible to eradicate them (although I think part of the problem is that the government is barely paying enough attention to talk about it, let alone do serious research into dealing with the problem).

As for the rabbits, from memory they have been dealt with quite effectively thanks to the engineering of a virus targeted at them or something along those lines. I believe their population was decimated as a result.

Anyways, it'd probably be irresponsible to simply relocate the animals to the other side of hte world, and there would likely be unforseen repurcussions, but on the other hand I think if the problem got out of control it wouldn't be as hard to cull animals like the lion/zebra/elephant etc if they got out of control as opposed to smaller more numerous animals like the rabbit.
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marleyfrost
post Aug 21 2005, 07:28 PM
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QUOTE(necrolyte @ Aug 18 2005, 09:08 AM)
"Lions eat people," said co-author Josh Donlan of Cornell.
*




I love this line.
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necrolyte
post Aug 27 2005, 06:57 PM
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Nevertheless Australia is going to be emotionally opposed to any such move I imagine. Not every political decision is driven by rational thought.

There is also really no incentive to do this other than a coolness factor, which really plays little role in the minds of (admittedly boring) 40-something voters.
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Sephiroth
post Aug 29 2005, 01:44 AM
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This idea is great.

*glomps Sovi*
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