What do the Eurasian lynx, black rhino, and Tasmanian devil have in common? All of them went extinct in the wild and managed to make a comeback due to extensive reintroduction programs.
Conservation scientists are professionals who use captive breeding and translocation to re-establish animal populations that have disappeared in the wild. Reintroducing such animals to their native territories is an important step in the process of combating extinction because it enables an increase in population numbers and leads to the restoration of degraded habitats.
Extinct Animals That Were Successfully Reintroduced to the Wild
1. Eurasian Lynx
The Eurasian lynx went extinct across Central Europe during the 1800s. But since then, conservation scientists have managed to reintroduce the feline into the flora and fauna of several countries, including Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, and Germany. They began their efforts in the 1970s and while still facing certain challenges, it’s safe to say that the Eurasian lynx is once again part of Europe’s wildlife.
2. Arabian Oryx
Having been hunted for its meat, horns, and hide, the Arabian oryx died out in the wild during the 1970s. Since then, the animal has been reintroduced in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. According to the latest numbers, there are currently 1,200 Arabian oryx in the wild, which prompted a change in its status from “endangered” to “vulnerable.”
3. Black Rhino
Humans decimated the black rhino population during the 20th century. During the 1990s, an estimate of 2,400 was left in the wild. This led to a reaction from the scientific community, which introduced different programs, including translocation, in an effort to save the species. Nowadays, black rhinos in the wild have doubled their numbers and have been successfully reintroduced in areas where they were completely extinct.
During the 20th century, the population of the world’s fastest land animal plummeted by 93%. This was mainly due to hunting and habitat loss. The cheetah became extinct in many of its natural territories, including India. In 2017, after two decades of absence, the big cat made a return to Malawi’s wildlife.
5. Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian devil hasn’t always been indigenous to Tasmania. More than three millennia ago, it roamed across Australia but disappeared from the local fauna after the arrival of the dingoes. Their numbers were further reduced because of a contagious disease. In 2020, these cute marsupials were reintroduced to an animal sanctuary in New South Wales.
Other Animals Worth Mentioning
Apart from the listed animals, conservation scientists also managed to re-establish the populations of the Chinese alligator, European bison, Przewalski horse, Guam rail, and more. Their efforts are showing that humans can undo the harm that they have done to different species of animals.