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J. Greig (1979)

Principles of genetic conservation to wildlife management in Southern Africa: Review

South African Journal of Wildlife Research - 24-month delayed open access, 9(3-4):57-78.

This paper is an expanded version of the paper presented at the Second International Symposium on African Wildlife, Research and Management, held on 7 July 1977 at the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. The conservation of genetic variability has, until recently, played an insignificant role in most wildlife management policies, except perhaps where endangered plants or animals are involved. Even then, it was motivated by sentiment and by the traditional fear that loss of variability or heterozygosity (LOH) may lead, through inbreeding depression, to extinction. Evidence is put forward that the conservation of genetic variation should be the prime consideration in the implementation of a nature conservation policy, for ecological, taxonomic and aesthetic reasons. This is best achieved by conserving the genetic integrity of population units somewhere between the hierarchical levels of deme and subspecies without unnecessary genetic admixture. It is suggested that the unthinking mixing of subspecies or ecotypes by 'conservation oriented' translocations is both biologically indefensible and ecologically harmful. The survival of life in a changing world depends upon evolution which in turn is completely dependent upon the existence of a full spectrum of genetic variation.

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