The news that a team of researchers from Brazil intend to soon enough clone representatives of eight of the country's endangered species is now causing quite a media stir.This is either because some people are dead set against cloning, or simply because conservationists fear that this will do little to help the species.
Interestingly enough, the eight animal species chosen by these scientists for their supposedly green-oriented project are not even on the brink of extinction.
Thus, it may very well be true that they are threatened or endangered, yet this does not mean that they could not pull through with the help of habitat conservation and captivity breeding programs alone.
New Scientists explain that these animals were chosen because the idea of cloning animals in order to help restore wild populations still has a long way to go until it reaches its heydays, and the researchers did not want to risk experimenting with animals which were far too vulnerable to whatever faults this project might experience.
Apparently, it will only be about a month before the first maned wolf gets cloned, and soon after jaguars, black lion tamarins, bush dogs, coatis, collared anteaters, gray brocket deer and bison will follow.
These cloned animals will not be released into the wild, as their main goal is that of serving as some sort of a safety net for those still inhabiting the Brazilian wilderness.
Thus, should the wild population for these animals decline to a considerable extent in the following years, they could help make sure the species do not become extinct.
“The key is foresight, to just save a little piece of skin, blood or other living cells before the genes from these individuals are lost from the planet forever. A freezer the size of a standard refrigerator could store the genetics for all the pandas in China, or all the mountain gorillas in Africa,” specialist Robert Lanza says.
Furthermore, “If you have the genetic material you can produce sperm, for instance, and reintroduce genetic diversity whenever you want.”
Still, there are some who claim that, although well-intended, projects such as this more often than not end up turning the general public's attention from what really matters: making sure endangered and threatened species get to keep their natural habitats.