One of the questions people will most often ask is “why?” Why would you want to create a massive park that contains awesome animals? I always think this is a silly question. There are many reasons. Thunder Wilds will rejuvenate small western towns through economic benefits; provide excellent hunting and tourism opportunities out in the West; and make millions of acres more ecologically productive. I also feel we have a duty to bring back this lost ecosystem because the human race is mostly to blame for the extinctions of so many species and the collapse of this whole ecosystem.
There are multiple theories of how the species of the Pleistocene era went extinct. Some focus on climate change ( non human caused). The most common is the Overkill theory, which basically means that ancient humans hunted animals to extinction. The Overkill theory makes sense because many of the Pleistocene era species had existed for millions of years and had survived massive fluctuations of temperatures and ice volume. They simply moved to where their species could survive. But around 15,000 to 10,000 years ago, there was colossal extinction event around the whole world, and guess what? That time period coincided with the arrival of modern man.
Now, when the humans migrated across the Bering Strait into North America, they had already wiped out or were wiping out the majority of the mega fauna species in Europe and Asia.
The Overkill theory makes sense when we consider Africa, too. Have you ever wondered why Africa is about the only place where massive, awesome beasts still exist? Considering that our ancestors originated from Africa, wouldn’t the African mega fauna be the first to go if the Overkill theory is right?
I thought that too, but long before the humans were extremely adept killing machines, they were scavengers. They didn’t kill animals directly. This allowed for the animals in Africa to slowly develop a fear of humans as predators over time as humans evolved into more effective predators. This allowed for the successful survival of many African species.
The mega fauna of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceanic Islands, however, did not evolve in the presence of humans so when humans arrived on these other continents, the animals didn’t learn to fear them until it was too late. Imagine a single creature. It would be surrounded by a hungry band of human hunters that didn’t smell like any threat mama had taught it to run away from. And then it was too late.
Now, I know that many people will think this is a stretch because there were so many animals to eat. The abundance of life was incredible back then, but think about this situation. You are in a tribe of about thirty humans during the middle of the summer. You, as well as everybody in your tribe, are hungry. You are following a herd of about 20 mastodons through the swamps. A group of hunters from your tribe kills one of the great beasts while thousands of mosquitos start to swarm you. So you quickly cut out the beast’s tongue because it is the most succulent part and a few other accessible parts and then beat it to high ground to escape the mosquitos. Even if there were no mosquitos, you don’t have time to hang around your kill for days to eat it. The mastodon herd is moving on and if you let it get too far away your tribe’s food source is gone. You won’t be able to catch up or you may never be able to find it again. So you leave most of your kill behind and follow the herd and kill another beast every few days. In 40 or 50 days the herd is dead. You start looking for a new herd.
So, it could have been a combination of both climate change and the Overkill theory. But, I lean more towards the Overkill theory, which is why I think we have a duty to bring back, not only the animals, but also the ecosystem.