Saturday, May 14, 2016

Giving Mama Nature a helping hand?


I'm intrigued by the news that large African mammals are to be relocated to Australia in an attempt to save the species.

Eighty South African rhinos may soon be on their way to Australia in part of an ambitious effort to establish an 'insurance population for the world.'

The Australian Rhino Project, spearheaded by South Africa-native Ray Dearlove, plans to fly 20 rhinos per year between 2016 and 2019 to Australia, where they will make up a breeding herd to protect against possible extinction.

. . .

Ultimately, Australia is serving as a secure place for the animals to live and breed - for now. If and when Africa becomes safe for rhinos again, the animals will be repatriated to their homeland - a feat that may not occur for generations, Dearlove believes.

There's more at the link, and at the project's Web site.

I have some misgivings about this.  It'll be fearsomely expensive, for a start - so much so that the costs may be insurmountable.  I don't know Mr. Dearlove at all.  If I were still in Africa, I'd be regarding this proposal with a jaundiced eye, wondering whether the same investment might not make more sense closer to home, and achieve better results for the animals.  Is it a boondoggle?  Hard to say, from the information available.

The other intriguing aspect is what happens if African genes cross-pollinate, so to speak, with Australian ones.  A cross between a rhinoceros and a kangaroo?  A two-ton bouncer!  What about a cross between a rhinoceros and a duck-billed platypus?  I don't know what the offspring would be like, but I bet you'll salute and call it "Sir!" before you argue with it . . .




Peter

15 comments:

Snoggeramus said...

Weird. No news of it over here that I am aware of.

Tim D said...

While cross-pollination may not be much of a problem, this is Australia we're talking about... Think about it, they couldn't handle cats or cane toads imagine feral rhinos roaming roughshod all over the continent

Rusty Gunner said...

Leaving aside the genetic objection, the mechanics of a rhinoceros-platypus mating are scary to contemplate.

jordani said...

What this guy say means nothing. Important is Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 of Australia.
I don't trust this will happen at all.

m4 said...

The general idea is to get the Rhinos away from the completely porous borders that not so much divide Africa as vaguely and inconsequentially criss-cross it. The only effective way for stopping poachers so far is to fund a militia to protect them, and most people aren't ok with doing that. It also poses its own risks - instead of Rhinos getting shot, the dedicated folk protecting them get shot (though a damn sight less often). Australia on the other hand... It's an island and it has some of more secure borders around. I believe they'll be far safer there.

@jordani I believe they've been screened for diseases, and most of the issues that those laws and acts worry about stem from spiralling populations. Spiralling populations of Rhinos? I'd give good money to see that. A bit of public support and this idea may yet fly (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

The black buck population in India was saved by having a breeding reserve population in Texas.

The down side is you know there is some Aussie who will want to put a rhino on the barbi!

Gerry

Quentin said...

And once there's a decent-sized population in a century or so, why not have a rhino BBQ? Cull the old males and sell their meat to help raise funds to preserve the rest.

Guncrazy said...

Some years from now: "Africa wins. In Australia."

Sendarius said...

Oh, the (unintended) consequences!

Many people have already come to realise that the "iron ore trade" is a scam - China and Japan send huge ships to Australia carrying all their flies, and the ships are returned using rocks as ballast.

If we import a herd of rhino, the fly situation will only get worse, because Australian dung beetles have evolved to handle the small droppings of the local fauna. Kangaroos and the like don't drop huge steaming piles like cattle or rhino.

David W. said...

Can Rhino's even survive in Australia? Don't they have like, all the large mammal invasives that ever existed all in the same place? I know you can find videos on youtube of Aussie's hunting wild cows/camels in the same type of "we need to get rid of them" tone of voice that most southern pig hunters have.

And yeah, if they did get rhino's in Australia there would probably be legal hunting once the population equals 100+ and they are breeding. Which would probably create a huge uproar in the anti hunting people. Which would mean that they would probably become a bad invasive species because as far as I know, the Rhino really doesn't have any predators to control its population in Australia besides human.

Bibliotheca Servare said...

I guess the rhino *must* have some kind of natural predator besides humans, but I'll be darned if I can think of one...do lions eat rhinoceri? Rhinoceros-es? Or do the rhinos just sit on the lions? *snicker*

Anonymous said...

If you take an Irishman out of Ireland and deport him to Australia, does he cease being an Irishman and become an IINO (Irish in Name Only)?

If you take a rhino out of Africa ...

David Lang said...

You would have thought that Australia would have learned their lesson with the Rabbits.

Seriously, why aren't people up in arms about contaminating the ecosystem there?

Sendarius said...

You DID see the drama about Mr & Mrs Depp and their damn dogs didn't you?

WE take our bio-security seriously - nobody else in the world appears to give a shit.

Eccentric Cowboy said...

As ludicrous as the idea sounds, I believe it has some level of merit. The biggest thing going for this transport idea is the fact that Australia isn't seized by crippling poverty that drives everyone to poaching. I know it still happens there, but I don't think rhino's would be pursued with the same ruthlessness as the African poachers.
It has proven to be able to handle some interesting game. I hope to visit one day to take a crack at the Asian water buffalo that they've got down there. I'm not sure how the rest of the country would feel about it though. I think the rhinos could adapt, stupid as they are, but I imagine they wouldn't do much for the locals. With rhinos being myopic, paranoid and dense as lead they would cause quite a few problems to vehicles, property and more than likely run a few poor people over, so that's a big worry. I mean, it's not like Australia has a lack of dangerous wildlife already.

Heck, let's bring some of them over here to the US! I've always envied the countries of the Old World for hogging all the best dangerous fauna. Sure, we've got Kodiaks and bison, but no real lions or fifteen foot crocs. Give some of the touchy feely tree huggers a real taste of what Nature is like. ;)