Monday, February 4, 2013

Let's Get Wild

Australia has a problem, and this time it’s not the poisonous spiders, venomous snakes, or sharks. Australia’s problem is its grass. Giant African Gamba grass was introduced in the 1930s and has taken over the outback and with Australian’s recent bush fire track rate, this is worrying.

The solution? Elephants. David Bowman of the University of Tasmania has recommended rewilding an elephant population in the outback. “I’m talking about using elephants as a machine or ecological tool to manage [the] grass,” he told the Guardian. Rewilding is a conservation movement, which involves reintroducing species to areas in which they became extinct at some point in recent history.     
Clearly, there are risks as well with this solution. Australia has a background with being overrun by invasive species and it would be difficult to manage the elephants once released. “If we did go down the road of introducing elephants to Australia, we had better develop the technology to clone saber-tooth tigers to eventually control the elephants,” [said Ricky Spencer, senior lecturer with the Native and Pest Animal unit at the University of Western Sydney.]