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The Return of the Quagga

The quagga, a relative of the zebra, went extinct over 100 years ago. However, miraculously they are now being brought back.

Quaggas have stripes on the front of their bodies and brown on the bottom half of their bodies. They used to live in South Africa where Europeans killed them for their breasts at a fast rate. The last one was killed in 1880. According to CNN, “scienQuagga_fstists have bred an animal that looks strikingly similar with the help of DNA and selective breeding.”

Eric Harley, a professor at Cape Town University, is the leader of the group of scientists called ‘The Quagga Project.’ He says, “The key was hidden in the animal’s genetics. Testing remaining quagga skins revealed the animal was in fact a sub-species of the plains zebra.”

Harley predicted that the quagga’s genes would still be existent in the zebra and they could reveal it through selective breeding. Harley says, “The progress of the project has in fact followed that prediction. And in fact we have over the course of 4, 5 generations seen a progressive reduction in striping, and lately an increase in the brown background color

One of the project's quaggas named Khumba
One of the project’s quaggas named Khumba

showing that our original idea was in fact correct.”

These creatures might not be genetically the same as the original quagga. Therefore, they will be called Rau Quaggas, after one of the originators of the project, Reinhold Rau. However, only six of the 100 animals have this name. When there are 50, they will all live together in one reserve.

Bringing an animal back from extinction after 100 years is an incredible feat for mankind and of course for the late quaggas.