Monday, April 14, 2008

A little help from their friends

It was almost a year ago, at a cocktail party, when I heard the most incredible story about a project to restore an endangered bird species that, to put it kindly, hasn't evolved well. The Waldrapp ibis over the centuries has lost much of its motivation and its sense of direction, problematic if you are a migratory bird that needs to get to point A down south to wait out the winter and point B up north to breed.

The birds are one of the most precarious in the world. Just a few hundred survive in the wild, and none in Europe. To be sure, the birds haven't helped themselves. They are pokey flyers, have poor motivation and are tasty, evidently. They are true slackers. Still, the Waldrapp Team is heroically trying to revive their numbers. All of this perhaps raises the question: are some species simply not fit for survival in this cruel world?

Before you answer that, read my article in today's Guardian about a determined group of biologists attempts to teach them how to migrate, and, ultimately survive.

And, for more on the research team's efforts, click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I must be hanging out at the wrong cocktail parties -- great idea for a story, nice piece too.