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Archive for the ‘conservationist’ Category

cecil

The story of Cecil the lion is one I’ve avoided.  I absolutely abhor stories that involve one animal cause celebre, be it Marius the Danish giraffe or some abused dog.

I dislike animal cruelty. I dislike poachers even more.

So you will not be getting any defenses of Dr. Walter Palmer from me.

But we’ve been dealing with poaching in Africa for a long time now, and that is not the part of the story I find disturbing.

What I find disturbing is that social media has turned into a giant lynch mob.

Vox reports:

When an American dentist named Walter Palmer killed a beloved lion named Cecil, the social media platforms that allowed outraged web users to spread the story also enabled them to do more than just fume. It gave them the power to act on their anger, to reach into Palmer’s life and punish him for what he’d done, without having to wait for the wheels of more formal justice to turn.

Web users uncovered Palmer’s personal information, including about his family, and published it online. They went after his business, a private dental practice, posting thousands of negative reviews on Yelp and other sites. The practice has since shut down. Users also went after professional websites that host his profile, leading the sites to remove his information. On Twitter and on his practice’s public Facebook page, people made threats of physical violence.

This should look familiar: It is the same set of tactics that has been used in online harassment campaigns such as the “Gamergate” movement that targeted women in technology, or the seemingly endless online harassment conducted against female journalists. It is a growing trend of internet mob justice, one that often bleeds into real-world harassment with real-world consequences.

It’s actually pretty similar to Gamergate.

This is the mob, and because the mob has projected onto Dr. Palmer the worst possible evil, it is totally okay to be an asshole to bring about justice.

Of course, this also gets mixed in with calls to ban all lion-hunting, and at the risk of getting the same treatment as Palmer, I’m going to say that this is a very short-sighted reaction.

Let’s get some facts on the table first.

Lions are not easy animals to live with. They are huge predators that have killed people, but they also do enjoy eating cattle.

If you’re a poor farmer in Sub-Saharan Africa, you are not going to like lions very much. You’re not going to be sitting by the campfire at night in awe of the roaring lions. You’re not going to be proud that all these Westerners love lions so much that they will raise an internet lynch mob to get someone who poached one.

Instead, you’re probably sitting by the fire with a gun or a spear, hoping that the damned things don’t show up an take a calf.

And you certainly hope they don’t kill your children while they sleep.

Most of the people engaging in the lynch mob who are also excoriating hunting have never lived anywhere near large carnivores. Even those of us who live near black bears in the East Coast honestly don’t have a clue. Black bears are timid creatures that have killed very few people in recorded history of this continent.

We have no clue what it’s like to live with large predators. Predators would be a constant worry for our ancestors living in hunter-gatherer camps, and even in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, predation by wolves was a constant worry.

Most Westerners live in cities, and the city has an insulating affect. Most people have never seen an animal kill anything, unless they see it on television.

And what most people see on television is pretty sanitize. Sir David Attenborough readily admitted that the most gory parts of predatory sequences had to be clipped from his documentaries.

Most Westerners think of lions as being really big cats.

Which is exactly what they are.

However, even a domestic cat can be a fierce predator to a mouse or a songbird.

And when you scale up a cat to the size of a lion, you are the mouse or the songbird.

We have a very distorted view of what lions are about.  The Lion King posits that the lion cub gets presented by the mandrill on top of the big cliff and all the subject animals, which are mostly things that lions eat, are just elated to see their new prince.

In truth, most of these animals would be avoiding a lion with cubs, and in the case of African buffalo, they would be actively seeking out the cub to trample it to death.

It is certainly true that lion numbers have dropped in recent years.

In 1975, there were an estimated 250,000 lions in Africa. There are now 25-30,000.

Were those lions all killed by trophy hunters?

Even if we accept that some were, there is just no way there are that many trophy hunters in the world who would kill that many lions.

No, what really got the lions is that in many countries where they are found populations are on the rise, but the economies are not growing fast enough to keep up with the population growth. Millions of people are being forced to farm and raise stock in the last redoubts of lions, and the lions start to cause problems.

If your’e a poor person living in Africa, you have every reason to want lions dead. Lion poisoning is becoming quite common in Kenya and in other parts of Africa. Poisoning does in entire prides of lions, but it takes care of the problem from the perspective of the poor farmer.

If we Westerners truly value lions, then we have to think of ways to make the lives of people living in those regions better. One way to do this is to create some sort of economic value for lions, and the best way to do this is to allow some limited, managed hunting.

Now, hunting like this can be abused, and it is certainly true that a lot of the money spent on this kind of hunting doesn’t stay in the communities, but it is still enough of a payment to give people incentive to keep lions alive.

Managed hunting, by definition, is not the same kind of hunting that seeks to make animals extinct. It is a kind of hunting that we’d recognize in our own country, especially if we paid some attention to the conservation policies of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt began a conservation revolution in this country. Before his time, we saw wild animals as either commodities or nuisances. When we began to conserve them as game animals, they were seen as creatures with value that extended beyond that animal’s life.

Using this conservation tool, we’ve seen all sorts of species rebound from near extinction. The cougar that was wiped out in the East is making a strong comeback in the West, where it is still hounded with strictly regulated hunting (except in California, where the cougars carry off dogs on a pretty regular basis).

But the US is rich country, and most of Africa is not. Land and resources are being stretched.

If we do want lions to exist, we either say that the lives of Africans don’t matter or we say that we have to use trophy hunting as way of generating funds and adding value to the people who otherwise would be better off without them.

No country in Africa would ever set up such a draconian conservation policy that would deny people the right to graze their cattle on public lands or on private property. They might deny it in a park, but outside the park, they are much more likely to look the other way if a lion gets killed.

Westerners look upon the lion situation with self-righteous ignorance. We can’t be bothered to elect politicians who will actually do a thing about climate change, which is driving extinctions left and right, and we can’t be bothered to stop having children or curbing our rapacious desire for new stuff.

But we can tell the poor nations of Africa that they must save their lions– just don’t ask us to pay for it!

Cecil the lion was named for Cecil Rhodes. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you’ve heard of the Rhodes Scholar program at Oxford that was funded through his estate. Rhodes was champion of British imperialism and a diamond magnate in Southern Africa. He was instrumental in getting a chunk of southeastern Africa added to the British Empire which were called “the Rhodesias”. Rhodes wound up ruling that region as a part of the British South Africa Company. Yes. It was essentially a corporate colony, which Rhodes as the CEO. The region of  the Rhodesias became a land of white landowners with large numbers of landless native Africans working on the plantations and mines.Southern Rhodesia became independent under the racist regime of Ian Smith. Dylann Roof, the Charleston church shooter, would pose with two flags on his jacket. One of these was Ian Smith’s Rhodesian flag, and Rhodesia, Ian Smith, and Cecil Rhodes have long captured the imagination of white supremacists

So Westerners have named a lion in honor of a brutal imperialist.

The West has grown fat off of Africa. First with the slaves. Then with the gold and the ivory and the diamonds.

And now when the Africans try to live in basket-cases we’ve left behind, we excoriate them for killing lions. We excoriate them for poisoning them, and we excoriate them when they try to raise money for conservation by selling a few tags to trophy hunters.

The West has forgotten what it’s done to Africa.

And the West is now so far removed from that natural world and its processes that it cannot have a reasoned moral discussion about how to best save the African lion.

It’s all turpitude masquerading as morality.

Cecil the lion was a killer. He killed game animals to survive. When took over his pride, he killed his predecessor’s cubs in order to bring the lionesses into estrus again.

He was not Mufasa or Simba.

He was a great cat who lived by the tooth and the claw, and he was magnificent. He lived a life far better than most dogs in North America, who spend their days pacing behind closed fences. He lived, breathed, fought, and fucked.

A poacher killed him, but if a poacher had not, he probably would have been killed an in an even more horrific manner. Male lions don’t rule over their prides forever. Soon or later, another male lion or a coalition of males would have overthrown him, and he would have either been killed by them or died from his wounds. Or he would have starved to death as he tried to eke out an existence on the edge of pride territories.

He may have been already a victim of an overthrow, and maybe that was the reason he was so easily lured out of Hwange National Park so easily.

The poacher may have actually done the old boy a favor.

What irks me most, though, is that we now live in this bizarre world that combines ignorance of wildlife management issues with the disgusting behavior of a lynch mob.

It’s more sound and fury, but this does signify something.

Western man is a totally adrift in this world.

He will either burn us all up or blow us all up, because he’d rather be self-righteous than think critically.

And that scares the hell out of me.

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prince harry feral water buffalo

There is much nattering among the ARista lobby in the UK over this photo.

Prince Harry killed a buffalo.

Won’t someone please think of the children?

The big outrage is that his father, Prince Charles, just recently made ending the illegal wildlife trade a major public campaign of his. Prince Charles and Prince William are going to be in a film that talks about wildlife conservation.

And I think this is wonderful.

But then Prince William is seen hunting wild boar in Spain, and people lose their minds. Never mind that wild boar are actually overpopulating in large parts of their range on the European continent. They were actually extirpated from the British Isles but were accidentally restocked when a few escaped English game farms. The animals are still very uncommon in the UK, so most people have no idea what wild boar actually do when they exist at very high numbers. Namely, they destroy crops and forest land, and without large numbers of wolves– their only real natural predator– the only way to manage them is through culling or hunting. Hunting raises some funds for wildlife conservation, but if you cull, you have to pay for the professional cullers.

So it would be much more sensible to allow hunting, don’t you think?

But the real outrage I’ve seen is about Prince Harry killing this buffalo while the whole family has pledged to support wildlife conservation as their major campaign this year.

He must surely be a hypocrite! Right?

Well, behind the outrage there is a story.

The buffalo that Prince Harry killed was an Asian water buffalo. These animals exist in both wild and domestic populations in Asia, and there is a bit of debate as to whether there is only one species of water buffalo in Asia or two of them. The two species are not split between wild and domestic, but rather, there is a river population and a swamp population that differ in chromosome number and almost never interbreed in their native range in the wild. They are both sources for the domestic water buffalo, and in captivity, they do cross and produce fertile offspring despite the chromosome number difference.

Prince Harry did not kill a wild water buffalo of any species.

He wasn’t even in Asia when he shot it.

He was in Argentina.

What are water buffaloes doing in Argentina?

Well, they were brought to South America as meat, dairy, and draft animals. Now, it’s certainly true that certain game ranches in South America do raise water buffalo to hunt, which is certainly a problem, but killing an invasive species– especially a feral domestic animal– is one of the best things that can be done to protect wildlife.

In the Southern Cone of South America, there are big game ranches that have stocked their lands with water buffalo and even red deer. Now, these ranches may be criticized for many things, but they do keep some areas wild that would otherwise be used for agriculture or development, which winds up being good for at least some native species. Would it be better to have these ranches with a few small herds of managed feral buffalo or to have them filled with Indicus cattle?

And this is not much different from the English sporting tradition of managing the legendary wild park cattle as a game species. At least, no one in Argentina made up any nonsense about these buffaloes being an ancient native species.  According to legend, these wild white cattle were the original wild white aurochs of England, when in truth they were nothing more than feral domestics that were selectively bred through culling to have the white coloration. And they were bred as game animals in exactly the same way the Argentines breed water buffalo.

Not a single royal is going out and shooting endangered species. They are not going to Africa and shooting “Cape” buffalo or elephants.

They are not shooting tigers or rhinos.

And by campaigning for real wildlife conservation and not animal rights outrages, they are actually doing the world a lot of good.

Real conservation is not anti-hunting. It sees hunting as an important management tool that can be used to reduce populations and generate revenue at the same time.

This is where the animal rights outrages come into total conflict with scientific management and sound economics. You cannot save animals because you get enough people in your wealthy, developed country to look down their noses at hunters. You can only save animals when you can create some economic value for the animals in their native countries or, at the very least, be able to find some intelligent way to mitigate any damages caused by such animals.

This is the big problem in conservation.

We have many people in the West who want to save species, but they don’t live in the countries or regions where these animals exist. Westerners are outraged at the poaching and habitat destruction, but they fail to understand that these issues are the symptom of greater human problems. When you have people living on the edge, your morals as well-fed Westerner really don’t mean much. You can be outraged all you want, but unless you address the human problems with conservation, all you will have is outrages and bromides.

I wish the royal family the best of luck in their venture in trying shed light on the need to conserve wildlife, but i also hope they can talk some sense into their citizens about the importance of hunting in conservation. I think this would be a great opportunity.

Otherwise, people are going to go on and on complaining about the supposed hyprocrisy of the royal family.

Of course, I’m not even a monarchist, and I’m very happy to live in a republic!

 

 

 

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Pretty amazing stuff.  This is the most beautiful duck species in North America.

Source.

 

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Wildfowling is English for duck hunting.

Source.

He may be “wildfowling,” but he’s hunting with an American dog that was once called the “Chesapeake Bay duck dog.”

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From The Telegraph:

Britain is losing generations of young naturalists because of laws banning children from collecting birds’ eggs and fossils, according to Sir David Attenborough.

The broadcaster said he would never have been able to pursue his interest in wildlife if current legislation had been in place when he was a boy. The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 prohibits the removal of eggs from the nest of any wild bird, while being found in possession of a dead wild bird – or any part of one – is also an offence.

Fossil–collecting is banned at Sites of Special Scientific Interest and is covered by numerous other guidelines.

Speaking to Radio Times, Sir David, 86, said few children now ventured out to explore the natural world. He agreed that the situation was “a disaster in waiting”.

He said: “Part of the reason for that is easy to identify, and that is because it’s no longer allowed – no longer legal – to be a collector.

“I openly admit that I collected birds’ eggs. And I knew when the right moment was when you could take one and the bird would lay another, so you didn’t damage the population.

And I learnt a lot from that. Now, I think it’s in the ledger of law, if you were to pick up a feather and put it in your pocket it would probably not be legal.

“And not to be allowed to collect fossils…”

His comments were supported by Chris Packham, a fellow BBC nature presenter, who said: “I can’t believe that future generations will learn their trade on television, on the internet and in libraries, because the passion has to come from the heart.

“You’ve got to want to set your alarm clock to go out and sit in a hide. Young people in particular are so disconnected from the natural world.

“I wouldn’t reprimand a young boy that I found climbing to a nest these days. I’d give him a bunk up into the tree.”

Speaking on the BBC Radio 5’s today programme Mr Packham added: “There are absolutely no young people enjoying our countryside. I feared we have turned out countryisde into a dark and dangerous place for children. They don’t engage with nature. They aren’t picking up fossils, watching fox cubs in the early morning.”

Egg-collecting has been implicated in the extinction of certain birds– most notably the great auk.

The great auk was once found on both sides of the North Atlantic, and it was hunted for its meat, feathers, and oil.

By the 1840’s, they became very rare, and museums and collectors wanted taxidermy specimens and eggs, and many a poor fisherman and egger supplemented his income through killing auks and robbing their nests.

But the vast majority of birds living in Britain today are not in the same situation as the great auk.

I once collected a nest of chipping sparrows and put them in my chicken egg incubator to make them hatch. They never did.

And when I was in eighth grade, my high school’s geology club went to the local road cut to dig around in the sandstone for trilobite fossils.

I cannot understand why these acts are now illegal without exception.

This is more of sign that the population of the United Kingdom is almost entirely alienated from the natural world, which means that this nation will have hard time coming up with rational conservation and wildlife management policy.

I hope that this country doesn’t become like the UK.

I hope that we recognize our wild heritage and our proud conservation history and work to preserve it for countless generations.

But we must engage our young people in the natural world.

We must make them experience nature in its fullest. Let them collect bugs and snake eggs and keep jars full of newts and tadpoles.

Let them marvel as children, and they’ll want to save it when they become adults.

That’s what happened to me.

Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries were very important to me when I was child, but if I couldn’t go out in the woods and experience it on my own, I don’t know if they would have had the same effect.

We do need to protect sensitive species from harassment and exploitation, but we also need to allow people more freedom to experience natural world as it is.

Only then will people understand why we have these laws in the first place.

Without a direct connection to it, the natural world becomes something like a cartoon.

And cartoons are not real.

You cannot manage or conserve cartoons.

They can only be what we will them to be.

 

 

 

 

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Source.

Just remember, that this is the organization that wrote the manager of the Aleutian Islands National Wildlife Refuges to tell him to stop trapping introduced arctic foxes.

The manager responded by telling them he would stop the cull if they’d come and live trap the foxes themselves.

They never responded to the offer.

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It’s definitely a mosasaur!

Source.

This guy’s footage shows it to be in the same location as a mystery creature, which I agree is a manatee.

Manatees are known to live in the same areas as American crocodiles and American alligators. I am betting that it is most likely an American crocodile, just judging from the head shape.

Not only is this person abusing Occam’s razor severely by suggesting that the thing that looks like a crocodilian is a mososaur, he’s a creatard, too!

“Evolutionists say it went extinct!”

That really helps your credibility!

Kent Hovind wouldn’t even try to pull something like this.

It’s obviously a crocodilian. It’s of not a mystery animal, and anyone can see that!

No wonder MonsterQuest didn’t cover it.

It would have been the shortest episode in history.

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