March 25, 2006

Humans versus Animals
The Doomed Battle for the World

Humans, let it be said right now, will win this battle. Mostly because the animals are ill-equipped to defend themselves or even understand the consequences of not taking an offensive stance. You see, animals are doing what humans could never stand to: they're living according to needs of survival and are obeying instincts as simple as "kill or be killed" and "feed and protect young". Animals do not bulldoze our suburb apartment complexes for purposes of reforestation. They don't decide that the fashion this year will be human-skin coats. They never hang trophy human heads on their walls. In fact, they don't build walls at all. They just live. Some of them kill and some of them die but it's always out of absolute necessity. There is a food chain and they all obey it. Until you get to the top. Humans, the rebellious teen animal of the hierarchy, have come out on the tip-top of the food chain after centuries of repetitive hunting and gathering. Due to our superior brain capacity, our ability to walk upright, and and our opposable thumbs, we have become the super-animal. Yes, those of you who believe in creation, it's because God made us that way. But regardless of which theory you put your faith in, the ultimate point is the same. We either ARE animals evolved over time with some significant advantages over our brothers and sisters on this planet, or we were made in God's image and charged with the task of protecting the animal kingdom. Whichever take you lean towards, the edict is the same: use only what you need and preserve the rest. No animal hunts species clear into extinction for pleasure. And God did not say "go forth upon the planet and expand into all corners, killing and destroying as you go, until naught is left but pavement and greed." So this battle that we as a species are currently winning is one that was never meant to be. And the animals will pay for our arrogance with their very existence.

Case in point:

Five tiger deaths in a protected reserve in India. I hear you now. "But the officials said they were natural deaths" and "Five isn't that many". The officials hired by the reserve claimed they were natural deaths. But wildlife experts elsewhere said the reasons for the deaths, and so close together, sounded fabricated as they were not reasons that normally exist in wild tiger populations. Those wildlife experts hint at a cover-up for poaching. Even if no cover-up exists, five tigers out of a total possible population of only ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY is a lot. It's a tragedy on par with a world war if you work out the relative figures. The point, regardless of poachers or incompatible mating, is that we have hunted and compressed the tiger into such small numbers that there is now no room left in the species even for natural tragedies. We have reduced the number of tigers to such an extent that their own populations cannot afford to make mistakes with one another. We did this. We are responsible. But if we, with protected reserves and sanctuaries and experts committed to tiger preservation, still cannot prevent human greed from taking it's toll - if poaching is still so prevalent that a cover-up may be necessary - then we don't have a hope in hell of preventing other species from arriving at the tiger's same eventual fate. We are narrow-sighted to the point of total annihilation of species.

Don't believe me?

Case in point:

The clubbing of baby seals in Canada begins. The article states that 325,000 baby seals will be killed in the hunt this year. This number is a guesstimate based on other successful annual hunts. The government need not hide this number because the hunt is legal and sanctioned and not taking place on the sly in a protected reserve. The government states that the hunt helps to keep a population of nearly six million harp seals in check. It also states, however, that the reason for the hunt is to make seal-skin coats. The remainders of the baby seals, once killed and skinned, are left on the ice floes like so many bloody human footprints, signposts to pointless waste. However the point is not actually the cruelty done to the baby seals (and one cannot support that boat-hooking a live seal and skinning it is anything but cruel) or the pointlessness of the purpose behind the hunt, atrocious though the economic demand for seal pelts may be. The point is our short-sightedness as a species. The Canadian government maintains that the hunt is a crucial way to keep a population of six million seals "in check". Firstly, climate change will do that for us. Global warming will take care of whatever polar bears cannot. Secondly, if killing 325,000 seals for no reason other than there are already millions of them around seems REASONABLE to you, the battle for preservation of animals is already lost. You see, that's the sort of reasoning that led the tigers of Corbett National Park to a population of one hundred and forty. Tigers, not so long ago and certainly in your grandparents' lifetimes, were plentiful. Forests and jungles were full of them. Big white hunters could go out and shoot one just to prove they were men because it didn't matter. There were millions of tigers! Who cared about one? Fast forward fifty or sixty years and you have a total global tiger population of three hundred that is dwindling fast due to lack of habitat and poaching. If you cannot see the parallels between this true-life story of near-extinction and the realities of the seal hunt, then the seal as a species is already doomed. We have six million NOW so NOW is the time to protect them. Not once we're down to twenty.

In the battle for life and death, plagues always win. Plagues are born of viruses that don't honor the great give-and-take of life on this planet. Plagues ravage victims, draining them of all useful commodities but not giving anything back to the host until eventually the host dies and the plague moves on to a new victim. Humans are a plague. And this planet isn't going to be big enough to satiate our demands for long unless we cure ourselves and start giving back as much as we're greedily taking. Don't believe me? Then do nothing. And I promise in your lifetime, you'll witness the total extinction of several forests and more than hundreds of different animal species. Right now a sub-species of some form of insect has just died out. Give tigers a decade without further intervention. You'll be able to brag to your kids that you helped kill the mighty majestic tiger for good. And seals won't be far behind. Aren't you proud?