Wolves which adapt to humans will be the wolves which survive

The endangered species on earth are mainly those which are failures. Species which fail to adapt to the loss of habitat as the human species succeeds. Natural selection is incapable of ensuring survival of these species when their environment changes so rapidly. But humans represent one of the few species which has demonstrated the ability to handle rapid change. We have adapted by constructing artefacts to maintain optimum conditions in which to live, by the use of medicine and also – though this is in its infancy – by genetic manipulation. We effectively maintain a “tropical” climate around ourselves wherever we are. In our homes, in our transport vehicles, in our work places and in our public places, we maintain benign conditions of temperature, wind speed, humidity and pressure. Whether living in the Arctic circle or in equatorial deserts, we maintain “comfortable”, tropical conditions around us. We use medicine to fight debilitating diseases. And now we are moving towards the prevention of the birth of individuals with faulty genes but also towards the intentional selection of desired genes.

Some species have successfully adapted to the expansion of humans and their changing circumstances. Many bird species, rats, urban foxes (who now differ genetically from “wild” foxes”), urban polar bears, baboons, langur monkeys and even leopards are examples of species which have adapted to take advantage of the changes and thrive in the new conditions. Domesticated species are dependent upon their usefulness to, and the goodwill of, humans. Much admired species such as, rhinos, tigers and elephants have not adapted and face extinction – as all failing species do. From the beginning of life on earth, the rule has been “Adapt or die” and it it still applies.

In the long run traditional “conservation” which is based on trying to freeze a failing species in an unviable genetic pattern, within artificial habitats which are merely prisons, is meaningless and counter-productive. Helping a species has to be about adaptation to the new conditions and not about genetic stagnation in new prisons. It is time we helped these species adapt and stopped just stuffing them into zoos.

A year ago I observed

Perhaps Siberian neo-tigers could be evolved genetically to help herd reindeer and develop a mutually beneficial partnership with man. An occasional reindeer kill would then be quite acceptable. It would be so much more constructive if neo-wolves were helped not to stagnate genetically, but instead to evolve the behavioural characteristics that allowed them to find a way of co-existing with humans and human flocks of sheep.

And now this story suggests that some wolves have already realised that “if you can’t fight the humans it is better to join them”!

BBC:

Villagers in Kazakhstan are increasingly turning to an unusual animal to guard their land – wolves, it’s been reported.

“You can buy a wolf cub for just $500 (£320), they say, and hunters are adamant that if treated well the wild animal can be tamed,” the KTK television channel reports. Nurseit Zhylkyshybay, from the south-eastern Almaty region, tells the channel he bought a wolf cub, Kurtka, from hunters three years ago, and the animal is perfectly happy wandering the yard of his house. “He’s never muzzled, I rarely put him on a chain and do take him for regular walks around the village. Our family and neighbours aren’t scared of him at all,” Mr Zhylkyshybay insists. “If the wolf is well fed and cared for, he won’t attack you, although he does eat a lot more than a dog.”

Nurseit Zhylkyshybay and his wolf

The face of wolves to come

Maybe these wolves will just become another line of dogs or perhaps they are the particular species of neo-wolf which will succeed in developing a mutually beneficial relationship with humans.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Wolves which adapt to humans will be the wolves which survive”

  1. navasolanature Says:

    All animals which adapt to live with humans or scavenge off them become human products. It is a tragedy that truly wild animals, from iconic species but also a vast variety of others are disappearing due to the ‘advance’ of humans. This also applies to plant life too. And we are left with just rats and pigeons?

  2. ktwop Says:

    Why is it a tragedy if an unfit species dies out?

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