Resurrecting a wolf for conservation?

Many herders, especailly in the Sub-Arctic, are threatened by the increased number of wolves, eating entire reindeer herds. In Australia they go the opposite way now: they try to revive a species of wolf that went extinct in the early 20th century, the last one from Tasmania in 1936. It’s a genetics lab experiment that they undertake thanks to a private donation.

They also call this wolf the “Tasmanian Tiger”, while its official term is thylacine. Their point is that what they call “de-extinction” can help safe species from disappearing from our planet, and also increasing ecosystem resilience.

But in anthropological terms I wonder what the dimensions of this are in broader terms for human-animal relations? The thylacine went extinct due to overhunting by colonisers – sure. So in this respect would it be good for indigenous lifestyles to bring it back? But in the news feature by Melbourne University nothing is said about any joint work or hearing with local or indigenous people there. Wouldn’t it be great if that high tech genetic engineering would be part of an integrated approach to promote indigenous livelihoods? On the website Melbourne university acknowledges that they appreciate and respect the heritage of the aboriginal peoples on whose land their university was established, and they have an elaborate “reconciliation plan” . I wonder if initiatives such as the active influencing of biodiversity in an indigenous area would also benefit from aboriginal involvement? It’s that same question that came to mind also regarding the Zimovs’ idea of the Pleistocene park to fight climate change in the Arctic. A careful embedding with indigenous livelihoods practiced around this area would be a great opportunity. We do not know enough about the aboriginal relations of such initiatives, and it would be a fascinating topic to explore anthropologically. Besides, it would contribute to put indigenous ways of knowing the environment out of the corner of ‘tradition’ to the forefront of designing the future. Let’s hope that funding applications with this orientation would receive financing before too long.

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