Director of Raptor Research, Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Science and technology are hardly new to species conservation. Marco Polo related how the great Kublai Khan had an appreciation for their use to increase game-bird populations on his hawking preserves 700 years ago (Komroff, 1926), and the origin of wildlife management goes even further back in human culture to the early empirical practices of aboriginal peoples. The Kutchin Indians were still burning climax spruce forest to create willow browse for moose in the Yukon River Valley when I first visited the region in 1951, and primitive hunters practiced similar manipulations of habitat to favor big game species in many parts of the world.
In 1933, Aldo Leopold wrote the following lines in the preface to his classic textbook Game Management: “game can be restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it—axe, plow, cow, fire, and gun. A favorable alignment of these forces sometimes came about in pioneer days by accident. The result was a temporary wealth of game far greater than the red man ever saw. Management is their purposeful and continuing alignment” (Leopold, 1933, p. vii).
Some of the authors in this section of the book write about the development of highly advanced techniques involving cryogenic processes, embryo transplants, artificial insemination, and other sophisticated clinical procedures. Although these new techniques are certainly needed, we have not yet made the most of many of the older technologies that can be applied to species conservation, and I want to emphasize the creative use of some old methods as important tools for conservation.
Two that I have used are the captive propagation of wild species and the reintroduction of individuals produced in captivity into vacant habitats. I work with