Scientists in Brazil have hatched a scheme to clone animals from eight endangered species. If successful, they could begin the process as soon as next month.
According to Scientific American, the eight animals in question are "the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus); jaguar (Panthera onca); black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus); bush dog (Speothos venaticus); Brazilian aardvark, also known locally as coati (Nasua nasua); collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla); gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira); and bison (Bison bison)".
Of the eight animals, bison is not even native to Brazil. Only one, the black lion tamarin, the most endangered on the list, calls exclusively Brazil its home, though seven of the eight other species make their primary habitats in Brazil as well.
None of the species are considered critically endangered. Most are considered "Near Threatened" or "Least Considered" on the Red List of Threatened Species, but all of the animals have populations in steep decline.
If scientists are successful in their petition against the government, the animals would all essentially be copies of one another. Because of the lack of genetic diversity the animals would not be well-equipped to survive in nature. However, the backers of the plan say that the animals would be kept in zoos.
Critics of the plan argue that cloning the animals would increase demand for them. They say that the primary effort in fighting animal endangerment and extinction should be protecting their natural habitats.
This scheme would not be the first time that scientists have attempted to clone animals. In fact, Embrapa, the government's agency dedicated to agricultural research, has previously cloned domestic cows. That practice is actually not altogether uncommon.
In 2011, the United States launched an effort to breed African black-footed cats. That practice, albeit not technically cloning, was successful. A 2009 effort to clone the Pyrenean ibex, an extinct animal, met with less success; the resulting animal lived for only seven minutes.
The effort in Brazil is a joint attempt by Embrapa and the Brasilia Zoological Garden. For two years, the organizations have been collecting somatic cells and spermazoa, resulting in 420 samples.
Published by Medicaldaily.com