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The number of extinct species has risen dramatically since historical times. In fact, 899 extinctions have occurred in the recent past, according to modern scientists. Thousands of unknown species may have perished without human knowledge, so this is only a small percentage of all extinct species (Lee-Ashley and Gentile 1). Species disappear more often than not as a result of the earth's dynamics, which are triggered by natural events such as volcanoes or human activity. In most cases, human activity is to blame for recent extinctions, as people engage in activities that alter habitats, reducing a species' chances of survival. Pollution, the introduction of new and invasive species and capturing as well as hunting all contribute to the extinction process (The United States Environmental Protection Agency). One of the impacts of extinction is the imbalance in the ecosystem, and for mentioned reason, scientists have opted to develop approaches for recreation. As such, the recreation of extinct species and the subsequent protection and preservation is essential for environmental restoration and appreciation of biodiversity in the world today.
Argument for Recreation
According to Shultz, each animal has a role in an ecosystem for instant fish clean algae, herbivores spread nutrients through dung and so on. De-extinction is, therefore, considered by environmentalists and scientists as one of the best approaches towards the restoration of the ecosystem functions. De-extinction can be conducted using three main strategies mainly backbreeding, cloning, and genetic engineering. Backbreeding involves the selection of existing species, which have similar traits to the extinct one. Selective breeding of the animals is then done to develop a version that resembles the extinct species. Cloning, on the other hand, involves the use of a preserved cell from a recently extinct animal. The nucleus is extracted and inserted into the egg of the closest relative followed by implantation into a surrogate host. The method is limited only to recently extinct organisms. Genetic engineering is the latest option that involves the arrangement of the genome of the extinct animal with its closest existing species. Using genetic editing tools, relevant genes are swapped from the extinct genes into the existing one followed by implantation into a surrogate (Shultz).
One of the most extinct animals advocated for recreation is the mammoth, and genetic engineering is one of the most promising approaches for its de-extinction. Suffice to note is that genetic engineering will not produce an identical copy of the extinct species. On the contrary, it only facilitates the creation of a modern version of the extinct animal. However, the appearance and behavior of the new species will mimic that of the extinct relative. Simply put, de-extinction carries several advantages that cannot be overlooked. Draxler, mentions that recreation of extinct species is crucial for gaining more insight regarding the evolution phenomenon, and natural resources. De-extinction also goes a long way in the understanding of genetic engineering process. Furthermore, keeping in mind the fact that humans are responsible for the extinction of various organisms, there is a sense of justice in the attempt to restore such species (Draxler). Lastly, the recreation of lost species is an event that is likely to be appreciated by all, revealing the importance of preserving all living organisms to avoid their disappearance.
Importance of the Mammoth species
The possibility of recreating extinct species is shown to be possible. In fact, a research team composed of both Spanish and French scientists brought the Pyrenean ibex from extinction in July 2003 (Kendrick). Although the animal later died, the discovery is an indication that even the mammoth can arise from extinction. The selection of the mammoth as the preferred candidate for de-extinction is based on three essential criteria. They include the presence of unique functions in the ecosystem, species that have only been extinct recently and the ability to restore the species to levels that are meaningful in the functioning of the ecosystem (Shultz). The mammoth passes two of the three stipulations particularly the first and the last. However, there are risks involved including the changing ecology, which may adversely affect the survival of the recreated species. Nevertheless, the presence of Asian elephants, which are close relatives of the mammoth, is a significant assurance of their survival. Mammoths can restore the tundra to grassland by knocking off trees hence clearing the pastures from the invading forests. Additionally, the mammoth can also trample the tundra, exposing the soil and protecting it from thaw (Morse). The mammoth recreation, therefore, offers the advantage of inspiration towards, science, technology, and ecosystem reservation as well as the assurance of a general positive environmental impact.
Plans for the Species
According to Lee-Ashley and Gentile policies for protection are not sufficient to ensure that endangered species are preserved (6). As such, by virtue of its initial extinction state, the recreated mammoth still falls under the threatened species category. The first step would, therefore, require designation of the species as at risk to enable federal, state and local protection, conservation, incentives and financial investment. Secondly, availing of funds for the preservation of the mammoth and its habitat is a crucial step towards recovery efforts. Finally, voluntary protection and conservation against hunting and habitat destruction coupled with necessary legal protections including non-confinement are equally essential for the re-establishment of the species to higher levels (Lee-Ashley and Gentile 14).
Draxler, Breanna. "5 Reasons to Bring Back Extinct Animals (And 5 Reasons Not To)." Discover Magazine. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/04/04/5-reasons-to-bring-back-extinct-animals-and-5-reasons-not-to/#.Wh5a9e-fx4A. Accessed 29 November 2017. Accessed 4 April 2013.
Kendrick, Robb. "Bringing Them Back to Life." National Geographic Magazine. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2013/04/species-revival-bringing-back-extinct-animals/. Accessed 29 November 2017.
Lee-Ashley, Matt and Nicole Gentile. Confronting America’s Wildlife Extinction Crisis. Worldlife Extinction Report. Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress, 2015.
Morse, Felicity. "Why scientists want to bring back woolly mammoths." BBC Newsbeat. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/33062252/why-scientists-want-to-bring-back-woolly-mammoths. Accessed 29 November 2017.
Shultz, David. "Should we bring extinct species back from the dead?" Science Magazine. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/should-we-bring-extinct-species-back-dead. Accessed 29 November 2017.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Endangered Species." United States Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/endangered-species/learn-more-about-threatened-and-endangered-species. Accessed 29 November 2017.
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