Quagga vadis? Is extinction forever?

The Quagga was a type of equine similar to the zebra, completely hunted to extinction in the 19th century, but through genetic science it is being recovered.

From the Quagga Project site: “Is extinction forever? When a species disappears from the earth the loss is normally irreversible. However, the extinct Quagga was not a zebra species of its own but one of several subspecies or local forms of the Plains Zebra. This fact makes a big difference. The Quagga’s extinction may not be forever.”

It was five years ago that I first found out about the Quagga Project. I had responsibility for whole school PSHE (Personal Social & Health Education) in my previous job, and in the curriculum it was necessary to deliver an Animal Rights and Welfare unit for Year 8 students. In preparing that, I discovered the Quagga Project. It was obviously useful that I had four equines of my own, so I could identify with this theme.

Now – as I develop this new donkey blog – including a new focus on the preservation/conservation theme – I want to re-visit the Quagga Project, for it is a remarkable story.

To be honest, it is hardly necessary for me to write anything more about this: you could simply go to the Quagga Project site at http://www.quaggaproject.org/ and read about one of the most awe-inspiring preservation and recovery experiments ever.  It is Jurassic Park, but simply done as a practical conservation / preservation exercise. I cannot read about this project without being filled with a profound admiration for scientists and their dedication to the diversity of God’s creation.  Yes, this is above all about stewardship of God’s creation.

The quagga (Equus quagga quagga), was a uniquely South African animal,and like the Syrian ass reported earlier, it was hunted to extinction in the late 1800s by colonists, who considered the species as competitors for their grass-eating livestock. Since then, it was only found in natural history books, taking its place alongside species like the dodo.

Quagga-Amsterdam

Quagga-Basel

Quagga-Berlin

Quagga-London

Quagga-Lyon

Quagga-Milan

Reinhold-Rau-Quagga

When the quagga had been extinct for many years, along came a scientist with a dream to revive a dead species. How mad is that?

See 2015 Coordinator report on the project.  Ever wondered how the zebra got its stripes?  There is a whole team of people studying that very question.  And the quagga is on the way to recovery.  Not bad for an extinct animal, eh?

The following two short videos explain the project.  No cloning techniques are used: selective breeding is the only method used in the quagga project.


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