The Validity of Re-introduction



Another reason for caution over reintroductions of carnivores, and other locally extirpated species, to Britain is that, although we assume humans are responsible for their demise, at present we are not certain that this was the case.

In truth, astonishingly little is known about the timing and circumstances of many extirpations. Without evidence for the ancient history of these species, cases for re-wilding largely collapse because the IUCN requirements for reintroduction, which state that the factors responsible for a species’ extinction must be identified before a reintroduction can be considered cannot be met.

This is where studies of species history and archaeology are likely to become vital for informing future management of biodiversity.

However, the final question that we must address is ‘why’? What are we trying to achieve? Is re-wilding about conservation, guilt or profit-making, after all endangered is often a good money-spinner.  The answers are not always clear but history does have lessons to teach.