Stories and Traveltips

ID #4845

Conservation Catch 22, Ventersburg, Northern Free State, South Africa.

There are two species of wildebeest in Southern Africa.  The more common is the blue wildebeest (brindled gnu). The comedian of the bushveld, it features prominently in wildlife photographs.

However, consistent with the biological diversity that characterises the region, there is a second species of wildebeest endemic to South Africa called the black wildebeest. A conservation success story, it was rescued from the brink of extinction by conservationists in the Willem Pretorius Game Reserve near Ventersburg as well as farmers in the area. There are now many on farms and nature reserves in the Free State and Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. However, it has since been discovered that, where they were mixed with herds of blue wildebeest, interbreeding has taken place. Apparently they only diverged as species 700000 years ago, insufficient time for them to become separate species!

The essence of conservation is the conservation of species diversity. Interbreeding results in a decrease in the number of species – a contravention of such principles.  So it has been decided to destroy those wildebeest where interbreeding has taken place. Ardent conservationists thus have to destroy the very animals they seek to protect -- an awful predicament! My sympathies to those involved. AVConservation

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Last update: 2014-05-14 01:44
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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