One can never have too many beautiful friends!
(And apologies for the delay reblogging this which makes nonsense of the dates🙃)
One can never have too many beautiful friends!
(And apologies for the delay reblogging this which makes nonsense of the dates🙃)
In this cruel world, thank heavens for men like quiet hero for the animals, Richard Hoyle. This beautiful soul inspires us with hope – and immense gratitude for his selfless labour of love. I promise, it really is worth reading this brief article to the end.
So says Richard Hoyle of The Pig Preserve, his sanctuary in rural Tennessee.
But you probably won’t pass Richard Hoyle on the street, and that’s because he works dawn until dusk 365 days per year at his sanctuary for rescued pigs, The Pig Preserve, in rural Tennessee.
The Pig Preserve is an innovative farm sanctuary. Situated on 100 acres of natural land, the pigs move about in social groupings, foraging for some of their own food and exploring woods, pastures, and ponds. The result is that the busy and largely self-sufficient pigs enjoy as natural a life as possible, and the Pig Preserve is less labor-intensive and more cost-effective than a traditional farm animal sanctuary model.
But maintaining this idyllic setting for the pigs is actually a massive undertaking. Most of the pigs are fed once a day, but the younger pigs—who are less capable of foraging—are fed twice daily. The pastures have to be maintained against the constant rooting of the pigs. Elderly and sick pigs receive daily medical care, and on hot days, they all get extra attention to make sure nobody is overheating. The barns are kept clean and comfortable with bedding.
Each day is a new challenge. Richard says he will wear many hats over the course of a day—as a farmer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, fence repair man, tree cutter, tractor mechanic, small engine repairman, veterinarian, and more.
Pigs are notoriously curious and mischievous, which adds both to the challenge and the joy. Richard says dryly,
“The day’s chores are made more challenging by the pigs who are always available to “help” with whatever I am doing. There is nothing more fun than crawling up under a tractor in the middle of the pasture trying to fix a broken hydraulic line while six or eight large farm pigs untie your boot laces, stick their heads under the tractor to offer technical advice and help rearrange the tools on the ground. It’s why many of my one-hour chores wind up taking three or four hours.”
Richard says farm sanctuaries are essential to the animal rights movement. Many smaller sanctuaries all over the world rescue and care for animals quietly, efficiently, and professionally. In the process, they educate people, telling the animals’ stories and raising awareness in an informal and personal way.
They are activists, he says:
“We do not get out and protest but we do bear witness every morning when we get up, put on our dirty clothes and walk out the door to care for those precious few who have been spared the horrors of the factory farms and the slaughterhouses. We live our activism 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—often to the serious detriment to our health and certainly to our pocketbooks.
“Rescuing an animal is only the beginning of the story. Once the trailer bringing a rescued pig arrives through my gates, I will be responsible for the safety and care of that pig for the rest of his or her life. In many cases that will be for another 15 to 20 years.
“I will spend time with that pig. I will heal his or her physical injuries and I will invest countless hours healing the emotional damage that has been done to this poor creature. I will show this pig each and every day that he or she is safe, loved and respected as a fellow sentient being.
“And, at our sanctuary, I will also teach this pig how to be a pig. I will encourage the pig to wander the fields and woods, to graze in the fields, to root and forage in the forest, to swim in the pond and, most importantly, to live his or her life in the company of other pigs where pigs are the happiest.
“I will try to show each pig that not all humans are like the ones he or she experienced before they arrived here. I will show each pig that it is okay to trust humans. I will be there for that pig every day of his or her life.
“And, when it is time, I will be there to ease that pig’s suffering and help him or her make the trip across Rainbow Bridge. And I will bury each pig with my own two hands—kneeling to say a prayer over the pig’s grave. And I will thank God for the privilege of knowing, loving and caring for that pig.
“I will also say a prayer for the millions upon millions I could not help.
“But I will be satisfied that I did what little I could to make a difference.”
This is a heartfelt plea from Dana Hunnes,
In this important article she urges us to take action, and suggests what everyone of us can and must do to help save our planet from the brink.
I recently spoke at the “March Against Extinction” event in Los Angeles as a way to call attention to how our diets, behaviors, and choices influence whether or not a particular species survives. While our individual choices represent a vote with our wallet, it is the policies and laws in various countries surrounding conservation, climate change, and agriculture that frequently play the larger role.
Right now in Taiji, Japan, dolphin hunts are underway. Every day from September 1 until March 1, dolphin hunters go out to the ocean and search for innocent dolphins, either to sell to amusement parks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or to slaughter for “human consumption,” Yet, it is well known that dolphin meat has toxic levels of mercury, PCBs, and other chemicals; making this both a public-health and animal-rights issue.
The cruelty and injustice of these hunts cannot be understated. The demand for these dolphins comes from amusement parks around the world who want to “show off” dolphins and their “little tricks.” What’s more, dolphins are viewed as pests, competition for the fish that the world has overfished and removed from the oceans.
In sum: We take their fish, we make them toxic with chemicals that WE have dumped into their oceans, and then we blame them, and brutalize them.
These hunts, by the way, are sanctioned by the Japanese government.
Please share, and take as many of the actions she suggests as you can. Nothing could be more important.
For better or worse, drones are changing our lives in ways we never could have imagined. And we may as well get used to it, because they are definitely here to stay.
Did you know that for as little as $150 and a mere 15 minutes of your time you can build your own drone out of Lego? I’m not kidding. A company called Flybrix will sell you a drone kit which comes with enough Lego bricks for you to be able to create yourself a quadcopter, octocopter or hexacopter – take your pick.
Drones are rarely out of the news these days. From unmanned military aircraft in the skies over the tragic country of Syria to Amazon’s proposed new delivery service, drones are everywhere.
In a world first, the Dutch National Police now use trained raptors (bald eagles) – yes, really – to take down the ‘bad’ 5% of drones that are not ok. ‘Unmanned threats’ might just be drones in the wrong place like flight paths, or drones operated by criminals and terrorists with more sinister intent.
But set the eagles aside for one moment – and the sad truth that the human race keeps finding new ways of forcing every animal imaginable and unimaginable into its service. Drones have the incredible potential to help save animals, and indeed the planet.
“As we face a period of mass extinction — of a potentially irreversible depletion of the web of life that sustains us — enterprising conservationists are exploring how new technology might curb those losses. In the near term, this involves eyes in the sky: drones. But in the long term, it may consist of something more comprehensive: semi-autonomous networks of sensors, some of them mobile and enhanced with artificial intelligence, that act as stewards of the wild.”
Drones saving the planet is a big claim, but there is some cause for optimism in the conservation community. Even quite basic drones have already made a significant difference to the animal kingdom.
No-one with an interest in conservation, wildlife or animal rights needs telling about Japan’s illegal whaling in defiance of the International Whaling Commission. Or Sea Shepherd’s war on the whalers. Sea Shepherd received its first drone as a donation in 2011. They intended to use it to film marine life for their TV show on the Animal Planet channel, but found that – even better – the drone could be deployed to collect evidence of the whalers’ illegal activity. And being able to fly even in fog and hover right next to a boat gives them the edge over helicopters. Plus they come with a much smaller price tag!
Each of Sea Shepherd’s ships is now equipped with its own drone, and their deployment has brought down the Japanese’ whale catch to less than one third of their expected quota over the last five years. Sea Shepherd’s founder Paul Watson is an enthusiast. “The only way to combat [illegal whaling] is to have the best technology we can deploy,” he said. “So far, this is the best.”
Naturally, drones are being used over land as well as sea, as for instance in orangutan habitat surveys in Borneo. Surveying on the ground in tropical rainforest is difficult, hazardous, expensive and time consuming. But even a basic drone can provide images that allow conservationists to pinpoint orangutan nests, as well as distinguishing different kinds of land cover – forest, roads, corn fields, oil palm plantations, illegal logging and fires. Drone surveys are fast, inexpensive and invaluable.
There is no end to the projects in which drones play the leading role. These are just a few –
Not before time have drones appeared on the scene. According to a disturbing new study, the Earth’s wilderness areas will be completely wiped out by the year 2100. And plants and animals are reaching the point of extinction at a disastrous rate – a thousand times higher than would happen if no humans were living on the planet.
There are many reasons for this frightening state of affairs, not least among them the fact that a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass is being used for animal agriculture, and this can only increase given the emerging economies’ new appetite for meat and dairy products, China of course, being the biggest.
With its rapid growth in wealth comes a ravening lust after raw materials and products of every kind, whether traded legally or illegally. China has become a black hole, sucking in everything within its earth-embracing gravitational field: ivory, rhino horn, shark fins, pangolin scales, tiger parts, bear bile, seahorses, and more. Rhino horn and elephant ivory are literally worth their weight in gold.
As we are all only too aware, Africa’s iconic animals are being decimated. “South Africa’s Kruger National Park is ground zero for poachers,” says Crawford Allan, spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund’s crime technology project. “There are 12 gangs in there at any [given] time. It’s almost like a war zone.” And its not just the wildlife that’s dying. African park rangers are being murdered at the rate of 100 a year.
China may be the biggest consumer of illegally trafficked protected and endangered species, but by no means the only one. The US, Vietnam, Lao, the Philippines are but a few of the rest. The illegal wildlife trade is worth billions, equal in value to the illicit trades in arms and drugs. The WWF has even suggested that the trafficking mafia have now become so large and powerful, they pose a real threat to the stability of some nations.
This is the scale of the problem the little drone is up against.
And the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, even a virtually noiseless second generation one equipped with thermal imaging that simply returns to base with nice snapshots, is not actually much help alone in the fight against poachers. By the time staff on the ground have examined the data and sent rangers to the right location, the poachers are long gone, leaving a bloodied butchered corpse behind.
“You can have a drone flying for 100 hours. But if you can’t get a team there in 5 minutes, what’s the good of having a drone?”
What is needed is a ‘cyber canopy’, which is exactly what WWF have developed with the aid of a $5 million Global Impact Award from Google. Their system comprises 5 technologies, the foremost of which is the UAV (the drone), all rolled into one package: the WWF’s Wildlife Crime Technology Project
I’m glad to say, already in successful use in Namibia, Kenya and Nepal combating poaching and wildlife crime.
The problem is that conservation organisations mostly don’t have a cool $5 million at their disposal and cannot afford such sophisticated systems and top of the range drones – the very topic primatologist Serge Wich and academic colleague Lian Pin Koh were brainstorming one fine day over coffee. From this meeting of minds emerged the seed of an idea which a year later burgeoned into their non-profit organisation Conservation Drones.
These two men have a vision. They see a future where swarms of semi-autonomous drones fitted with infrared cameras patrol protected areas, relaying back their own garnered data as well as data beamed up to them from camera traps on the ground. This is the first step towards a conservation version of ‘The Quantified Self-Movement’. If like me, you are new to this concept, the QSM is “A wide-ranging Internet of Things (IOT) ecosystem …to support the process of connecting real-world objects like buildings, roads, household appliances, and human bodies to the Internet via sensors and microprocessor chips that record and transmit data such as sound waves, temperature, movement, and other variables.” We are practically there already with our smartphones, fitbits, tablets, cameras and watches, cars, home appliances, medical equipment, aircraft and weaponry.
Now for ‘buildings’, ‘appliances; and ‘humans’ substitute camera traps, different species of animals and well yes, humans. What is needed to enable drones to gather, identify and relay back this data and create that cyber canopy, a ‘quantified biodiversity system’ if you like, is Artificial Intelligence. And in fact AI software for drones already exists. A Dutch firm Birds.ai is selling their version to farmers for monitoring livestock and crops. It enables UAVs to distinguish cows from deer, trucks from tractors.
Ironic isn’t it, that livestock farmers who must take quite a lot of responsibility for destroying habitats and their biodiversity along with them, are the ones who can afford this technology. Conservationists not so much. All is not lost though. Birds.ai, rather like its name, has two wings, one commercial and one non-profit, and the latter aims to supply the software for next-to-nothing to the cash-strapped conservationists.
But if anyone has big money riding on all this, it’s the trafficking cartels. What’s to stop them using the same kind of technology to outsmart the embattled conservationists? Or even hacking the conservationists’ own systems to locate for themselves the animals and the rangers? As with all forms of cyber hacking, it will be a big challenge to stay ahead of the game.
And quite apart from that not-so-little problem, is a piecemeal approach to wildlife and its habitats, a project here and another there, even with the aid of drones, really going to halt our headlong rush to planetary armageddon? Not in the opinion of renowned biologist Professor E.O. Wilson. His is a much grander plan, but one he believes to be imperative if we are not to lose vital wilderness habitats with all their biodiversity – and indeed threaten our own existence. His bold idea is to keep only half the planet for humans, and designate the other half solely for the wild – Half for Us Half for the Animals. Which of course doesn’t mean splitting the Earth in two pole to pole! Rather establishing a worldwide system of protected wilderness areas linked by wildlife corridors.
In this scenario, semi-autonomous drone ‘eyes in the sky’ would provide invaluable guardianship of the wild against human incursion. And with the massive quantities of ecological data they provide, we would be better able to monitor the status of Nature’s health. Carnegie Science already has ambitious plans to use their own advanced UAV to create a 3D animal mapping of the entire world and to monitor climate change. That is a huge ambition. Knowledge is power, and accurate real-time data like this could provide an incredible basis for effective action to save the planet.
“So if human civilisation increasingly represents a kind of cybernetic superorganism – a vast, living network of machines and people that’s greater than the sum of its parts – drones may function as sensory organs informing this brain, as probes for what’s really a nascent planetary nervous system.
If we actually pull off this great retreat, this new human-machine life form will have done something highly unusual and perhaps unprecedented in the history of life on earth. Rather than furiously expanding until all resources are depleted, it will have deliberately retreated as a survival tactic. It will have made room for other life forms. A new sort of intelligence, one that’s proactive rather than reactive, will have emerged.”
Drones and all the potential they embody will play an indispensable part in this new mega-organism saving our precious wilderness and wildlife. But the drones, advanced and complex as they may be, are the easy bit. Now we just need to work on the humans.
To find out more about the use of drones for our wildlife and wild spaces see ConservationDrones.org
A Dutch company is training eagles to take down drones – Science Alert
Facts on Animal Farming and the Environment – One Green Planet
Biodiversity across the world is no longer within the “safe limit”
according to a major new study published in the journal Science on 15 July 2016.
That is why today, September 24 2016, is a day of supreme importance for the world’s wildlife.
At a time when we are facing the planet’s 6th Mass Extinction, it marks the opening of COP17 in Johannesburg, South Africa – the time and place where the 183 countries that are signatories to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, are meeting to discuss how best to protect our endangered animals and plants.
“Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines. Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade in them, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important in order to safeguard these resources for the future.” CITES COP17
The 17th Convention of Parties will last from 24 September – 5 October
A few facts:
Here are a few of the main proposals:
For more information on these proposals see Take Part
All you need to know about COP17 here
Sign petition here to tell CITES not to legalise ivory & rhino horn trade
Sign petition here to tell CITES ban the taking of elephants from the wild
28 September 2016 CITES today banned the international trade in all 8 species of pangolin by transferring them to Appendix 1 – the strictest protection available under international law – NRDC
Vegan Boho brings us the latest news from Anita’s trial. It’s good to see that Dr Lori Marino who featured in my recent post Thinking Pigs https://animalistauntamed.com/2016/08/19/thinking-pigs/ is going to testify for Anita, informing the court of pigs high-level cognitive abilities.
On Wednesday 24th August, the two-day trial that has been highly anticipated for over a year, gaining worldwide news coverage and public attention, finally began as Anita Krajnc, co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, appeared in court.
With dozens of animal rights activists gathered outside the courthouse, and every major news channel from Canada in attendance, the overwhelming atmosphere suggested that it was in fact animal agriculture that had been put on trial, not Anita Krajnc.
Ms Krajnc pleaded ‘not guilty’ to charges related to feeding a thirsty pig water, on June 22nd 2015. The prosecution maintained that Ms Krajnc had been interfering with the pig owner’s property, whilst she defended her actions as an act of compassion towards an animal in need.
Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf, the truck driver, stated that on the date of the incident, he transported approximately 190 hogs between 4-6 months of age, 110 kms (1.5 hours) from…
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“Holocaust: Any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.” Dictionary.com
If you’re anything like me you’ll see the latest meme on Facebook telling us how many animals we’ve saved in a year as vegans, or how many gallons of water it takes to produce a kilo of beef, and take it as gospel. Well, if we want the true gospel, it’s to be found here. Faunalytics is the properly researched go-to source for animal data. This is what they have to say about farmed animals, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. People protest in outrage if we talk about a holocaust. But to refer to what is happening as anything less than a holocaust does a great injustice to the animals, because that is exactly what it is.
Remember though, the enormity of the horror spelled out here in facts and figures by Faunalytics is not meant to drag us down, but to put fire in our belly and give us the accurate info we need to get the world to go vegan.
FARMED ANIMAL FUNDAMENTALS from Faunalytics
Food production kills billions of animals each year. That’s more than all other forms of animal use combined. Millions more farmed animals suffer in cruel confinement. This exclusive Faunalytics Fundamental demonstrates the scope of the problem. It also provides information to support people working toward solutions. We hope you find the information useful in your advocacy for farmed animals.
MEET THE ANIMALS
Humans consume some amazing animals. Fishes have great memories. Chickens think about their future. Pigs can play video games. And cows love to jump and play in the sunshine. The evidence is clear: the animals we eat are capable of thinking, feeling, and suffering just like cats, dogs, and humans. Check out the graphics below to explore interesting facts about some of the animals most commonly used for food. Of course, we’re only scratching the surface of what makes these animals unique, sentient, and deserving of their own rights to life and freedom.
|While relatively few people eat a completely vegetarian or vegan diet, support is strong for protecting farmed animals. Most people continue to believe that meat is “necessary,” but most people also believe in giving farmed animals the same consideration as pets. Through our Animal Tracker, Faunalytics has been monitoring attitudes about animals used for food since 2008. Here’s what we have found|
According to Gallup (2015), 54% of people in the U.S. are “very” or “somewhat” concerned with how farmed animals are treated. But what about trends over time? There has been little (if any) change in attitudes toward farmed animals since 2008/2009. While people’s attitudes may change slowly, our use of animals for food continues to grow at a rapid pace. Tragically, of people surveyed in 2013 66% agreed with the statement that “using animals for food is necessary for human survival”.
LIFE AND DEATH
FARMED ANIMALS SLAUGHTERED FOR FOOD (EXCLUDING FISH & SHELLFISH) IN 2015
This last figure is particularly shocking. The UK is consuming 1/12th the number of animals the Chinese are consuming, but with only 1/21st of their population.
These numbers are staggering, but they are even more shocking when you consider the waste that occurs. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the animals we slaughter are mostly inedible: only about 55% of the bodies of chickens and pigs are “edible” while the number is even lower for cows (40%). Farming animals is an unnecessarily cruel and inefficient process.
There can never be such a thing as ‘humane slaughter’ but the desire to increase profit drives the farming industry. In their search for ‘efficiency’ savings animals are raised and slaughtered using fewer and fewer resources, resulting in these horrifying figures below.
Slaughterline Speeds (Birds Per Minute)
Can you even imagine such a number? That is more than 2 birds slaughtered per second. Double the number in 1979.
Before they are slaughtered for food, or when they are used to produce eggs and dairy, animals live in cramped conditions. Mother pigs who are constantly pregnant live in gestation crates where they cannot stand or turn around. Hens in caged systems are given less space than a letter-sized piece of paper, making it impossible to spread their wings. Chickens, in particular, are bred for ‘efficiency’ by making them grow bigger and faster, regardless of the consequences for the animals themselves.
Staggering numbers of animals are bred for profit, raised in cramped and cruel conditions, and slaughtered at increasing speeds with little or no oversight. These are worrying trend for anyone who cares about animals, and everyone agrees that people have the right to know how their food is produced. Animal Advocacy groups work hard using undercover video, investigative work and other means to expose the conditions under which farmed animals are raised and killed. In the US, this exposure has led to a backlash from the industry. Since 2012, so-called ‘ag-gag’ laws have been proposed in many of the states. These laws are intended to criminalise undercover investigations of animal farming. Most of these laws have failed to pass, but in 6 states they have unfortunately been passed, putting a massive obstacle in the way of our uncovering exactly what goes on behind those factory farm doors.
People may think that buying animal products labelled organic, free range or ‘humane’ may be a guarantee that what they are consuming did at least have a life lived in better conditions. Unfortunately those labels bear have little bearing on the actual conditions on that farm. The vast majority of animals consumed still come from factory farms, regardless of the label.
Since the publication of “Livestock’s Long Shadow” by the United Nations in 2006, the world is slowly waking up to the environmental consequences of animal farming. According to a 2015 report from Chatham House, animal farming accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gases emissions, about the same as burning fossil fuels for transportation. Still, public awareness of this fact remains low: while 69% of people think that transport is a major contrubutor to climate change, only 29% believe that meat production has anything to do with it. animal farming is not just a major contributor to emissions, it is also a major consumer of the world’s increasingly scarce supply of fresh water.
This Faunalytics Fundamental has shared the incredible number of animals in food production. It has shown that the unimaginable suffering is widespread. But there is hope. Every person who reduces or eliminates foods from animals makes a real difference. Every advocate who uses this information can help more people move to plant-based foods.
These data raise many questions. Three strike me especially.
These have to be some of the most important things to focus on in our advocacy.
For complete version of Farmed Animals Fundamentals click here
Faunalytics welcomes your use of their data and infographics. For Faunalytics Tools useful in your advocacy for farmed animals click here.
Faunalytics has so much more work to do to give advocates the insight they need to choose the most effective ways to help animals.
Please donate generously now to help Faunalytics bring you and other advocates this crucial information.
Forget the fictional Hound of the Baskervilles, Dartmoor now has a real beast of prey on the loose. The legendary hound was diabolical and terrifying, but people have nothing to fear from Flaviu the lynx, though there is much for him to fear from them.
When we animal advocates heard the news that Dartmoor Zoo’s newly acquired lynx had succeeded in a daring break-out-of-jail within hours of arriving at his new ‘home’, we were cheering him on, and mentally casting black spells over efforts to bring him back to captivity. Even zoo owner Ben Mee admitted he would secretly be “really proud” if Flaviu disappeared and made a new life for himself.
That was exactly two weeks ago and Flaviu is still living in the wild. So far police, zoo workers and volunteers, using helicopters, drones, baited traps, recordings of his mother’s call and even her bedding, have all been foiled by the clever big cat.
But now events have taken a worrying turn. The Mirror reports fears that gun-toting hunters are trying to track and kill the lynx, just to get a selfie trophy photo. Post-Cecil, you wouldn’t think anyone could be that heartless and stupid, but if this is the case I really hope the zoo finds him first.
Latest news: the zoo is appealing for donations. They need £5K for more motion sensor cameras to monitor trails and locations Flaviu is thought to be frequenting.
Not so long before Flaviu hit the headlines, I happened to hear on the radio that there were plans to reintroduce lynx to the wild here in the UK. Until then I didn’t even know the lynx is actually indigenous to the UK – though to be fair they have been extinct here since about 700 AD. In fact the animal was forced out of most of Western Europe by a combination of habitat loss and human persecution. The usual story.
Like all big cats, the lynx would win any beauty contest paws down. In the wild it can live up to the age of 10 years, and size-wise it’s roughly the same as a labrador dog. It’s tree-climbing ability, up and down definitely needs no assistance from the Fire Brigade! Because its favoured habitat is dense forest, because it emerges to hunt only at dawn and dusk, and because of its legendary elusive nature – perfectly illustrated by Flaviu – it earned the name in ancient cultures around the world as the mysterious ‘Keeper of Secrets’.
The Lynx UK Trust hopes to unveil the proposed site for a pilot release of the cat as soon as next month. Forests in Aberdeenshire and Northumberland are on the shortlist. ‘That’s when it gets really exciting,’ says Chief Scientific Advisor to the Trust Dr Paul O’Donoghue.
But why is this being done? Why rewild an animal, even one as iconic as this, that hasn’t been around in this country for thirteen centuries?
Now we’re talking apex predators and trophic cascades. In a nutshell, the lynx’s preferred prey is deer. Because deer have no natural predators to control their numbers here in the UK, they tend to be quite relaxed, and lounge around lazily in one place until it is stripped bare of vegetation. And why wouldn’t they? Why keep moving if the food is right there? But unfortunately that is destroying our wild places and forests.
Enter the lynx, and two things happen: firstly the lynx controls the deer population naturally without human intervention, and keeps herds healthier by taking out the sick and old. Secondly, the deer have to be more on guard and keep moving around from one feeding spot to another. “Suddenly, they’re pruning shears again, lightly cutting back the forest at a rate it can recover and sustain itself, all that green stuff starts to return, as do all the other animals that like to live amongst it, it’s called a “trophic cascade”, an event kicked off by the apex species at the top of an ecosystem, that cascades all the way down through it affecting every other form of life.”
This beautiful short video about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone narrated by George Monbiot, a true hero for the environment, explains an apex predator’s hugely beneficial effect on an entire ecosystem. Wonderfully exciting stuff!
If this is what we can hope for with the reintroduction of the lynx, bring it on. It can’t happen soon enough.
Inevitably, not everyone sees it this way. “Depending on who you ask, the Eurasian lynx is either a benign woodland wonder or a sheep-stalking terror.” The Guardian. Objectors are as you would suspect, farmers who fear lynx will take their sheep. (Actually sheep, along with the deer, are the main culprits in reducing our forest cover to only one third of the EU average.) The Lynx UK Trust says that research proves farmers’ fears groundless. While a lynx will indeed take a sheep or a lamb occasionally, they expect each cat’s tally to be just one sheep every two and a half years – for which farmers will be compensated.
In fact, the lynx may prove of benefit to sheep farmers by keeping down the population of lamb-predating foxes, as has happened in Switzerland.
So there will be no damage done to the local economy by the presence of lynx. Quite the reverse. The expectation is that the cats will generate “new eco-friendly industries such as wildlife tourism around their presence, breathing new economic life into remote rural communities.”
In any case the effects of reintroduction, beneficial or otherwise, will be small to begin with, since the Trust’s five-year pilot is for the release of just three male and three female animals. As the six will all be of breeding age, with a bit of luck we will soon have many more of these beautiful creatures in our wild places.
“We killed every single last lynx 1,300 years ago and hunted them purely for their pelts. We have a moral and ethical duty to bring them back. They are as much a part of the natural environment as ospreys and red squirrels,” says Dr Paul.
Wolves next? We live in hope.
A little prayer for Flaviu – Stay safe boy, stay safe.
Vote in Focusing on Wildlife Poll: Should the lynx be rewilded in the UK?
Sign here to support rewilding the lynx – petition to Natural England & Scottish Natural Heritage
3rd February 2017 The Guardian reports on deep splits in local community over planned re-introduction in Kielder Forest, Northumbria
9th November 2018 Yellowstone streams recovering thanks to wolf reintroduction
24th May 2018 Plan to return lynx to UK receives fresh boost
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
by Wendell Berry
This beautiful little poem reminds me of what we are now in grave danger of losing, and losing with it our connectedness, our oneness with the living Earth. And why we must shout as loud as we can for our wild places and wild creatures – not just for their own sakes, but for ours as well. For without them the flame of the human spirit will go out.