10 Weird Wildlife Conservation Strategies That Actually Worked

Panda Boot Camp

Some captive panda breeding programs have ended in heartbreak, like when Xiang Xiang the captive-bred panda was killed just one year after being released into the wild.

Fish-Zapping Vaccuum Robots

From the makers of Roomba comes the Guardian, a friendly marine robot on a mission to zap as many lionfish as it can. The lionfish is a venomous species that has become a major threat in areas like the Bahamas where it consumes far more species than any local predator.

Dugong Drone Surveillance

Dugongs are an eastern relative of the manatee whose habitat is important for the coastal ecosystem of the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. Since they’re very shy creatures, it’s been a real pickle for scientists to monitor this unique and threatened species using traditional methods.

Undercover Crane

If you want to hang with cranes, you’ve got to look the part. That’s the idea behind breeding programs that raise whooping cranes with human surrogates in white robes and crane-shaped hand puppets.

Robot Scarecrow Fish

Not every fish control project requires kidnapping invasive species in a vacuum robot. Sometimes all you need to do is spook them a little. This was the idea behind a silicone robot built by researchers at NYU to resemble and act like a large-mouthed bass.

Transcontinental Muskox Train

This one is a throwback from the early days of American wildlife conservation. Muskoxen were prevalent in parts of Alaska until the end of the 19th century, when a combination of over-hunting and climate conditions wiped out the last Alaskan herds.


Artificial insemination is common in agriculture and conservation, but some species don’t take too kindly to…let’s say, manual harvesting. Horses and some friendlier bulls can be persuaded to give up samples the old-fashioned way in a pinch, but what about when you need seed from something a little more aggressive, like a lion or a tiger?

Bird Ejaculation Helmet

Sirocco the kakapo is a bird from New Zealand who likes people a little too much. The flightless nocturnal parrot comes from a species that almost went extinct but is coming back due to breeding efforts.

Poison Toad Sausage

Cane toads are one of the most notorious invasive species in the world. Videos of motorists running over the venomous amphibians have brought attention to just how despised this species is in Australia.

Beaver Skydiving

After World War II, people started moving into the area of Payette Lake, Idaho, where local beavers had been squatting for centuries without a Mini-Mart in sight. After a while, the beavers started fighting back against human settlement and causing real damage to irrigation systems and orchards.