Cape Town University Now Breeds Quaggas – A Specie That Had Long Gone Extinct


Quaggas (Equus quagga quagga) – a specie of plain Zebbra, which had gone extinct for years, are now bred in South Africa. The animal which resembles plain zebras with its front half while its rear half is shaded brown has been resurrected.

Relying on the suggestions of a Zoologist Ludwig Georg Heinrich Heck, a group of south African scientists embarked on “Quagga Project” project in 1987 to bring back the animal from extinction and reintroduce it into reserves in its former habitat.

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Prior to its extinction, Quaggas were known for their inhibition of the Karoo and southern Free State of South Africa but they were hunted down by settlers who see them as competitors of their grazing sheep, goats and cows. According to CNN, the animals went extinct for 100 years with the last of its kind going extinct in the 1880s

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Today, the over 25 years project, has selectively bred five to six generations, with each new batch’s coloring becoming more quagga-like in appearance. They named them “Rau quaggas,”- after one of the project’s founders Reinhold Rau.

Speaking to CNN on the resurrection of the specie, the project’s leader and a professor at Cape Town University, Eric Harley said “in fact we have over the course of 4, 5 generations seen a progressive reduction in striping, and lately an increase in the brown background color, showing that our original idea was in fact correct.”

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However, some critics are of the belief that the researchers that embarked on the project “aimed at rectifying a tragic mistake made over a hundred years ago through greed and short-sightedness. It is hoped that if this revival is successful, in due course, herds showing the phenotype of the original quagga will again roam the plains of the Karoo.”

Claiming that the project was done without taking into consideration the ecological adaptations or behavior differences in the original quagga, critics said the animal could be a zebra that had changed its stripes. To them also, the project cannot right the wrongs that were done against the long-lost specie.

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