TIGER of the HIGH­LANDS

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Front Page -

Sep­a­rat­ing a true wild­cat from a do­mes­tic tabby

Cap­tive-breed­ing pro­grammes have come to the res­cue of such im­mi­nently ex­tinct species as the Cal­i­for­nia con­dor and Mau­ri­tius kestrel (which was once down to four in­di­vid­u­als). How­ever, it is also ex­pen­sive – the cost of the con­dor pro­gramme has to date run into mil­lions of pounds – and highly risky. An­i­mals must be taken into cap­tiv­ity (all 22 re­main­ing con­dors were cap­tured), and the sub­jects have to be kept, bred and re­leased with­out los­ing their abil­ity to func­tion in the wild. More­over if cap­tive breed­ing is pri­ori­tised at the ex­pense of habi­tat con­ser­va­tion, there might be no wild to release the an­i­mals back into.

De­ci­sions tend to be made on a case-by-case ba­sis. A re­cent study ar­gues that cap­tive breed­ing should be a last re­sort, once all other pos­si­bil­i­ties (such as pro­tec­tion, translo­ca­tion or habi­tat restora­tion) have been ex­hausted.

RICHARD MABEY

E WILDLIF “THE WE’VE ALL

EN” FORGOTT

A new study q ques­tions whether c cap­tive breed­ing is a al­ways the best way t to guard against t the ex­tinc­tion of C Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered s species, such as the S Su­ma­tran tiger.

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