Reviving the Dodo: A Bold Plan to Reintroduce an Extinct Bird to Mauritius

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In a groundbreaking initiative, Colossal Biosciences, a US-based biotech firm, has partnered with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) to explore the possibility of reintroducing the extinct dodo bird to its native habitat on the island of Mauritius. This ambitious project aims to leverage cutting-edge genetic technologies to bring back a species that has been extinct for over three centuries.

The Dodo’s Extinction and Its Ecological Impact

The dodo, a flightless bird native to Mauritius, became extinct in the late 17th century due to human activities and the introduction of invasive species. The bird’s extinction has long been a symbol of human-induced environmental destruction. The dodo’s demise was primarily caused by overhunting by sailors and the predation of its eggs by animals such as rats, pigs, and monkeys introduced by humans.

The extinction of the dodo had significant ecological repercussions. The bird played a crucial role in seed dispersal for various plant species on the island. Its absence has disrupted these mutualistic relationships, contributing to the decline of certain plant species that relied on the dodo for seed dispersal.

The De-Extinction Plan

Colossal Biosciences announced its intention to resurrect the dodo in January 2023. The company has made significant progress in its research, including sequencing the dodo’s genome and those of its closest relatives, the Nicobar pigeon and the extinct Rodrigues solitaire. The plan involves editing the primordial germ cells (PGCs) of the Nicobar pigeon to express dodo-like traits. These edited PGCs will be inserted into the embryos of a sterile chicken and rooster, which will then produce offspring with dodo-like characteristics.

Challenges and Considerations

The project faces numerous challenges, both scientific and ecological. One major concern is that the recreated dodo will not be an exact replica of the original bird but rather a hybrid with some dodo-like qualities. This raises questions about the bird’s ability to survive and thrive in the wild without the inherent knowledge of how to live in its natural habitat.

Additionally, the current environment of Mauritius is significantly different from what it was in the 17th century. Much of the island’s natural habitat has been replaced by human infrastructure, and invasive species that contributed to the dodo’s extinction are still present. Effective management of these invasive species and restoration of suitable habitats are critical for the success of the reintroduction.

Potential Benefits and Ethical Considerations

Proponents of the project argue that reviving the dodo could have several ecological benefits. The bird could help restore disrupted ecological relationships and contribute to the overall health of the island’s ecosystem. Moreover, the high-profile nature of the project could inspire global conservation efforts and create “conservation optimism” in a time of widespread environmental challenges.

However, some scientists and conservationists question the ethical and practical implications of de-extinction. They argue that resources could be better spent on protecting existing endangered species rather than attempting to bring back extinct ones. There are also concerns about the potential unforeseen consequences of introducing a genetically engineered species into the wild.


The plan to reintroduce the dodo to Mauritius is a bold and ambitious endeavor that highlights the potential of genetic technologies in conservation. While the project faces significant challenges, it also offers an opportunity to advance scientific understanding and inspire global conservation efforts. As the project progresses, it will be crucial to carefully consider the ecological, ethical, and practical implications to ensure the best possible outcomes for both the dodo and the broader ecosystem of Mauritius.

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Globe-trotting with a flair for the fearless, Sierra Blake crafts vivid tales and insider tips from the world’s hidden corners, inspiring wanderlust in the heart of every reader.


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