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South Africa: The resurrection of the Quagga

South Africa: The resurrection of the Quagga

South Africa

The myth of extinction to the long-lost cousin of the Zebra has been put aside after the rediscovery of the Africa quagga in South Africa.

On 12 August 1883 the last living quagga died at the Amsterdam zoo, and the world believed this unusual type of zebra had gone the way of the dodo.

But for the last 20 years a team of South Africans have been working to bring the beast back from the dead, with the third generation of specially bred foals now being born.

South Africa has been running “The Quagga Project” to save the almost extinct zebra breed since 1987 in an attempt by a group of dedicated people in the country to bring back an animal from extinction and reintroduce it into reserves in its former habitat.

“It is an attempt to try and repair an ecological damage that was done a long time ago in a small way, and also to try and get a small representation of a charismatic animal that used to live in South Africa,” said Professor Eric Hayley, the project director.

The South African quagga project has done DNA analysis showing that Quagga was not a separate species of zebra but in fact a subspecies of the Plains Zebra (Equus Quagga).

“We do this through selective breeding. We actively go out and search for ones with fewer stripes and put them together in breeding groups. We concentrate on the ‘unstriped’ gene, and as a result every animal has less and less stripes,” said Bernard Wooding, the environmental director of the project.

Like other grazing mammals, Quaggas had been ruthlessly hunted. They were seen by the settlers as competitors for the grazing of their livestock, mainly sheep and goats.