Posts Tagged ‘genetic adaptation’

Domesticating tigers to ensure their survival

March 1, 2015

Tigers cannot survive without human intervention. They are just not capable of handling the shrinking of their traditional habitats and the changing environment. They are not evolving fast enough. Traditional – and misguided – conservation is all about trying to maintain some limited habitats in which they can survive without change. That is a misguided policy just because it tries to freeze the tiger into a genetic dead-end in an artificially maintained habitat. The tiger reserves are then little more than large zoos.

If tigers are to survive they must change within themselves. They need to adapt genetically. They have to adapt and move on. To change is to be alive. Not to change is to die. And a species which will not change “deserves” to go extinct. Traditional “conservation” is temporary and unsustainable. Conservation is stagnation.

I have long felt that real conservation must consist of helping threatened species to adapt genetically, not just freeze them into an artificial, temporary and unsustainable habitat. Of course changing a species genetically means that the unchanged species disappears. But that’s life.

Genetic adaptation – not stagnating conservation – is the way to help threatened species

So this apparently bizarre suggestion by a State Minister in Madhya Pradesh is not as crazy as it may first sound. A true, sustainable survival of tigers requires that they adapt such that they can continue living among humans without threatening humans. And that may well be a form of “humanisation” if not of “domestication”.

Deccan HeraldIn a bizarre suggestion, a senior Madhya Pradesh minister has sought a law that allows people to domesticate or keep as pets big cats like lions and tigers for their conservation.

Animal Husbandry, Horticulture and Food Processing Minister Kusum Mehdele, in a proposal sent to the state’s forest department, has cited legal provisions in some African and South-East Asian countries like Thailand which have helped bring about an increase in the population of the big cats.

Noting that there are various projects in the country for conservation of tigers, the minister, however, said that although crores of rupees have been spent on these projects, there has been no surprising increase in tiger numbers.

In Thailand and some other nations, there is a legal recognition to people for keeping tigers and lions as pets, she said, adding the number of such animals is increasing in a surprising way in these countries.

If such a possibility can be thought over, then necessary action should be undertaken and guidelines passed on, she said in the proposal sent to state Forest Minister Gaurishankar Shejwar in September last year.

The suggestion has, of course, been ridiculed by the traditional “conservationists” who are all into trying to keep the tiger and its world unchanged – frozen in an artificial environment which is unsustainable.

Indian claims of the recovery of tiger numbers may be overestimated:

Data released in January suggested India was home to 30 per cent more tigers than four years ago, with numbers rising from 1,706 in 2010 to 2,226 in 2014. Now conservation experts from the University of Oxford, the Indian Statistical Institute and the Wildlife Conservation Society have cast doubt on the assertion, suggesting the statistics were the result of a flawed method commonly used in censuses of tigers and other rare wildlife.

Wolves which adapt to humans will be the wolves which survive

December 19, 2014

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.

 

 

Nokia adapts genetically while Microsoft drops the “Nokia” brand

October 24, 2014
Nokia NMT900 1987

Nokia NMT900 1987

A few days ago Microsoft announced that it was dropping the “Nokia” brand and would continue with “Lumia”.  My first mobile phone ever was an NMT900 in 1988 or ’89. My first five mobile phones were all Nokias. It felt like the end of an era. As if some well loved species was going extinct.

Irish IndependentFor many of us it’s a name synonymous with mobile phones, but Microsoft is now officially axing the Nokia brand in favour of its own Lumia range of Windows smartphones.

The tech giant bought Nokia’s mobile division back in April for $7.2bn along with a 10-year deal to use the Finnish company’s name on smartphones. Now, however, it seems Microsoft wishes to push its own Lumia brand, the most successful iteration of the company’s Windows Phone OS – rival to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS systems.

The company actually began life in the 19 century as a single paper mill in what was then part of the Russian Empire. It grew into an industrial conglomerate with interests in everything from galoshes to gas masks, with the push into electronics only coming in the 1960s.

From the 1980s to 2000s it had a string of mobile hits (including the famous 3310 – one of the best selling mobile devices of all time, with more than 126 million units sold worldwide) but failed to keep on top of its smartphone competitors.

Windows Phone meanwhile continues to struggle against iOS and Android, with global market falling to 2.5 per cent. Microsoft will be hoping that Nokia’s ever-popular range of capable, low-end devices will eventually shuffle users in developing markets onto its OS, but nothing looks like it will shake Android and iOS in the high end.

But there is no need to be sad.

The brand is not going extinct. It is adapting and changing with the times. The company started with a paper mill and only enetered electronics in the 1960s. Now it has adapted and has returned to profit  – demonstrating the benefits of genetic evolution over stagnating conservation.

The Register: Nokia reported strong results on Thursday even after giving long-suffering shareholders a dividend and taking the hit of a one-time charge.

Profits rose to €353m on earnings of €3.3bn, up from €2.9bn a year ago. 

With the Windows Phone albatross thrown to a reluctant new owner, Nokia is now three divisions: network equipment (Nokia Networks), mapping (HERE) and IPR licensing (Nokia Technologies), but with €2.6bn of income, Networks provides most of the meat.

Nokia Networks sales rose 13 per cent year on year, based on LTE sales into China and North America, the company said. HERE grew 12 per cent, and IP licensing nine per cent to €152m; Microsoft is now a more important licensee. 

The company paid out €1.372bn in dividends and recorded a goodwill charge of €1.2bn against HERE’s profits, the latter reflecting a new evaluation of the division at €2bn.

The HERE charge reflected, “an adjustment to the HERE strategy and the related new long-range plan”. Nokia also spent €220m buying back shares.

Nokia made a string of mapping acquisitions in the Noughties, the largest of which was Navteq for $8.1bn (€5.6bn at the time). The company defended its continuing investment in HERE, declaring that “we continue to believe we have an opportunity to create significant value with the HERE business, as connected cars become more pervasive and as enterprises deploy new location-services to improve their productivity and efficiency”.

Despite all the charges, the company still has €5.4bn in cash and assets.

For a corporation to change its genetic code and shift away from a previously successful habitat and move into new territory is not easy. It needs changes to corporate competences and culture and shape and size – and many of the changes are painful. But Nokia seems to be well on the way to reinventing itself – again.

It is a lesson from the corporate world which should be taken to heart by all so-called conservationists. In the corporate world, continuing with a failing strategy, or a failing habitat or living in past glories does not help survival. It is genetic adaptation (from paper to tyres to gas masks to phones to networks) which provides Nokia with a new future. Similarly, in the animal world, trying to freeze failing species into a failed strategy in an artificial habitat is pointless. Genetic adaptation not stagnating conservation is the way to go.

 

After Marius the giraffe, Copenhagen Zoo puts down 4 lions

March 25, 2014

Zoos fool themselves when they claim to be anything other than places of entertainment for the general public. They pretend at playing the saviour of endangered species but really do little more than force some individuals of an unsuccessful species to live a fairly useless life in totally artificial surroundings. It is my contention that “Conservation” is on the wrong track in trying to freeze species in to a mould that clearly is genetically a failure. If the goal is to help a species to survive then they have to be helped genetically to live alongside humans – and not in some artificially created environment which can never exist outside the zoo.

And there is something wrong when perfectly healthy specimens are bred and then put down because they don’t suit. Copenhagen Zoo is probably not the worst zoo in the world, but it is among those who pretend the most. After Marius the giraffe they have now culled two lion cubs and two adult lions as being surplus to requirements. They are probably the same lions which feasted on Marius!

The Guardian: A Danish zoo that prompted international outrage by putting down a healthy giraffe and dissecting it in public has killed two lions and their two cubs to make way for a new male.

“Because of the pride of lions’ natural structure and behaviour, the zoo has had to euthanise the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves,” Copenhagen zoo said.

The 10-month-old lions would have been killed by the new male lion “as soon as he got the chance”, it said. The four lions were put down on Monday after the zoo failed to find a new home for them, a spokesman said. All four were from the same family.

He said there would be no public dissection of the animals since “not all our animals are dissected in front of an audience”.


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