LiveScience: scientists propose reintroducing cheetahs, lions, camels and also elephants to north America to change populations shed 13,000 years ago.

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An artist's conception reflects the denizens of a future "U.S. Ecological history Park."Carl Buell
Cheetahs, lions, camels and also elephants would certainly roam wild in the United claims under a brand-new proposal come re-introduce large animals comparable to those that human beings hunted come extinction long ago.

The U.S. Ecological history Park, together it is billed through scientists, would aid preserve types that space under raising pressure for survive in Africa. That would likewise re-create a an ext balanced predator-prey connection in the an excellent Plains and Southwest, an eco-friendly diversity that has been absent for much more than 10,000 years thanks at the very least in component to hunting pressure.

The idea, comparable to one currently under way in Siberia, is laid out in Thursday"s problem of the newspaper Nature through a dozen ecologists and conservationists at 10 universities and also institutions.

The park, where huge and sometimes dangerous predators would roam free, might be an economic boon to depressed farming areas that humans are fleeing from anyway.

The scientists would prefer to start now, using big tracts of personal land, and expand the effort through the century.

"If us only have actually 10 minute to present this idea, world think we"re nuts," admits harry Greene, professor that ecology and evolutionary biology in ~ Cornell University. "But if world hear the one-hour version, they realize they haven"t thought around this as much as we have. Best now, we room investing every one of our megafauna wishes on one continent — Africa."

Better 보다 ratsOne justification for "rewilding," together the scientists speak to it, is the one method or another, we humans have actually a dramatic effect on the pet kingdom and ecology in general, so a proactive approach is far better than letting the civilization go to the dogs. Or, in this case, come the rats.

In the absence of elephants and large predators, which with each other stomp the ground and also keep other animals on the run, landscapes will involved be conquered by dandelions, rats and other undesirables, the researchers write.

Large predators can be "keystone species" that are an important to shaping the flora and fauna of whole range.

A modern example is the widespread loss of wolves and also grizzly bear in components of the West, again in ~ the hands of humans. Elk populations soared. Elk eat willows, which beavers rely on, and also so beaver populations in Colorado decreased by approximately 90 percent, the authors state. Fewer beavers expected fewer dams, and the reduced wetlands brought about willow populations to decrease 60 percent in some areas.

The paper’s lead author is Cornell graduate student Josh Donlan.

"Humans will proceed to change ecosystems, cause extinctions, and influence the really future of advancement -- one of two people by default or design," Donlan told LiveScience. "The default scenario will surely encompass ever an ext pests and also weed-dominated landscapes and also the extinct of most big vertebrates."

Cheetahs, woolly mammoths and also relatives of the camel were simply a couple of of the large mammals that roamed America throughout the Pleistocene era, which finished 10,000 years earlier as the last Ice age retreated. Research studies have shown that their death was due largely to searching by humans, no from climate change, together one theory held.

Their absence has changed the biodiversity the the continent and also potentially the evolution of other animals. Large prey such the antelopelike pronghorn the the Southwest developed lightning speed over millions of years come escape cheetahs, for example.

Start nowThe park would certainly actually involve multiple locations and also phases that introduction, start immediately.

One very first step would certainly be come import intimidated camels from the Gobi desert to the American Southwest, wherein they might gobble woody plants that now rule some landscapes.

Small number of african cheetahs and also elephants indigenous Asia and Africa could instantly be introduced on exclusive property in the joined States. The endangered cheetahs space close family members to cats that roamed prehistoric America. Elephants are pertained to mammoths.

The elephants could lug economic advantage by their natural ability to manage grasslands and also the potential because that ecotourism, the researchers say.

Financial advantage is a vital to the totality plan, in fact. The researchers mention the much more than 1.5 million annual visitors come the semi-wild mountain Diego Zoo as an instance of the attract that can be meant in a Pleistocene Park.

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The researchers realize they have actually an uphill battle to obtain public support. The dispute surrounding the reintroduction of wolf to Yellowstone national Park shows the "clear obstacles" challenged by any rewilding effort, Donlan said.

"Obviously, acquiring public accept is going to it is in a substantial issue, particularly when friend talk about reintroducing predators," Donlan said. "There room going to have to be some significant attitude shifts. That contains realizing predation is a herbal role, and that people are walk to need to take precautions."