Reverse impact

Published: Monday 15 August 1994

STRANGE as it may sound, research projects aimed at saving small populations of endangered species may have actually helped sign their death sentences. This possibility is being seriously examined by researchers probing the extinction of packs of wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), which were the subject of a scientific study between 1965 and 1991 in Tanzania (Nature, Vol 369, No 6482).

Sifting through data generated over the years by these studies, researchers maintain that human intervention-induced stress could have pushed the endangered canines over the brink. Field techniques such as trapping, radio collaring, tissue sampling and vaccination are being cited as factors that could have lowered the immunity of the wild dogs.

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