Brazil Aims to Clone Endangered Animals
Conservationists in Brazil are poised to try cloning eight animals that are under pressure, including jaguars and maned wolves.
Other conservation groups have welcomed the plan, but say the priority should always be to preserve species in the wild by minimising hunting and maintaining habitats.
“While cloning is a tool of last resort, it may prove valuable for some species,” says Ian Harrison of the Biodiversity Assessment Unit at Conservation International in Arlington, Virginia. “Experimenting with it now, using species that are not at immediate risk of extinction, is important.”
Save our species
None of the targeted animals are critically endangered, but Brazil’s agricultural research agency, Embrapa, wants a headstart. Working with the Brasilia Zoological Garden, it has collected around 420 tissue samples, mostly from carcasses.
The eight species live in the Cerrado, a tropical savannah. They will be cloned and kept in captivity as a reserve in case wild populations collapse.
Within a month, Embrapa hopes to begin cloning the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), which is classed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of endangered species. About 13,000 remain across South America.