Why should we save the wild relatives of domesticated animals?
In his opus on the pheasants of the world, published in the early 1900s, the zoologist William Beebe wrote that his observations on wild red jungle fowl, the progenitor of domestic chickens, in the jungles of Asia, suggested ‘an infusion of the blood of native village birds’ into the genome of these wild relatives (Beebe, 1918–1922, in Lawler, 2014). Roll forward almost a century and in 2014, Lawler reported in his wonderful book on the history of chickens that most if not all red jungle fowl have incorporated genes from domestic chickens (Lawler, 2014). Yet the IUCN Red List categorizes the red jungle fowl, Gallus gallus as being of Least Concern because of its large range and sizeable population (IUCN, 2018).Read More
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