TIGER of the HIGHLANDS
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.
E WILDLIF “THE WE’VE ALL
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.