Sunday, August 21, 2005

Re-Wilding America

Genius scientists from Cornell University want to bring back megafauna (big animals) to America to make it more like the Pleistocene era of ten thousand years ago, when cheetahs hunted antelope-like pronghorn and camels roamed free across North America.

The Cornellians complain that human arrival on the continent 13,000 years ago led to the extinction of many animals, creating holes in the Pleistocenian ecosystem. For example, there is no natural predator left to eat the remaining pronghorn. They propose to plug those holes by setting loose wild African cheetahs in southwest America. Other wild animals they want to set loose in American are feral horses, wild asses, camels, elephants, and lions.

They claim this re-wilding of America will not only save endangered animals from Africa but create jobs in America in land management and eco-tourism.

Josh Donlan of Cornell University, worries about whether Americans will like lions and cheetahs and elephants running around their back yards:

"Obviously, gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators. There are going to have to be some major attitude shifts. That includes realising predation is a natural role, and that people are going to have to take precautions."

In other words, people are going to need to get used to the occassional stray child being eaten by lions. But once they get past that, re-wilding should be seen as a brilliant idea and the return to the Pleistocene era as an improvement on modernity.


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