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Animals: tamed, exploited and resurrected

Listen here: BBC Radio 4 – Start the Week

Amol Rajan discusses the uneasy interaction between the animal kingdom and humans. The anthropologist Alice Roberts looks back to the moment hunter-gatherers changed their relationship with other species and began to tame them, paving the way for our civilisation. Gaia Vince visits the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica where local people have found a way to both exploit and protect a natural resource, the olive ridley sea turtle. Re-introducing native species can be fraught with difficulties: John Ewen was part of the team who successfully re-introduced the hihi bird to New Zealand, but can lessons learnt with songbirds help with schemes to bring back wolves, lynx and beavers? And resurrection science may be the stuff of films like Jurassic Park, but it is also an exciting – and potentially dangerous – new field of study. Britt Wray offers a warning about the risks of de-extinction.

Written by Dr John Ewen

I have been interested and working with hihi since I was involved with establishing the Tiritiri Matangi island population through translocation in 1995. I am now employed as a Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London and have been here since 2004. My research is multi-disciplinary and focusses on small population biology and management. I use decision science to assist in planning hihi management and drive our applied research with this species and have experience in molecular and behavioural ecology, wildlife health and nutrition and reintroduction biology.


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