So far Donald Trump has said nothing about the tigers (nor has Donald Trump Junior yet displayed shot dead tigers on Twitter). So that’s all to the good. But, all to the bad, now in Trump time, is the environmental devastation as well as the numbers of animal extinctions (tigers and orangutans among others) for which not just unthinking and unfeeling people like Trump and friends, but all of us are responsible. Someone has said (I have this in my notes and can’t find it) that —
Within two years we must commit to saving the web of life. Otherwise of course the web will be further torn and ultimately the tears becoming irreversible.
Mammal, bird, fish and reptile populations have fallen on average by 60% since 1970, finds a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report involving 59 scientists from around the world. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done,” says Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at the WWF.
Runaway human consumption is to blame: the biggest cause of wildlife loss is the annihilation of natural habitats, much of it to create farmland to feed humans and livestock, followed by killing for food. The WWF is calling on world leaders to strike a global deal at the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020, similar to the Paris agreement on climate change, to limit and reverse the destruction. “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” says Barrett. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ — it is our life-support system.”
Now, of all the mammals on earth, 96 percent are livestock and humans and only 4 percent are wild mammals.
We Maniacs! We Blew It Up!
Last May a groundbreaking assessment of all life on earth was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The assessment revealed that while humans make up just 0.01 percent of all life, humanity has destroyed 83 percent of wild mammals, and half the plants. Now, of all the mammals on earth, 96 percent are livestock and humans and only 4 percent are wild mammals. Fast forward five months to the new estimate of the massacre of wildlife made in a major report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) involving 59 scientists from across the globe. This report shows the increasing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life billions of years in the making. It is that “web of life” upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.
Just since 1970, less than 50 years ago, humans have wiped out 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. The world’s leading scientists are warning that while this huge loss is a tragedy in itself, what it really means is civilization’s very survival is threatened. WWF’s executive director of science and conservation Mike Barrett put it this way: “We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff. If there was a 60 percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”
Worldwide, 60 percent of vertebrate animals are gone, but freshwater habitats are hit even harder, with populations having collapsed by 83 percent. South and Central America is the worst affected region globally. It’s the impact of unsustainable production models and wasteful lifestyles. “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” Barrett said. “This is actually now jeopardizing the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.” In other words, the destruction of nature is as dangerous as climate change.
So then, what’s happening to the orangutan?
The conversion of tropical forests to unsustainable palm oil plantations destroys the habitat of species like this Sumatran orangutan. As a result over 50,000 of these strange and wonderful creatures on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra have died. Orangutans whose habitats have been destroyed often enter villages and oil plantations in search of food where they are captured or killed by farmers who treat them as pests.
And finally there are the tigers, long time one of man’s favorite creatures. Well, in a word, what’s happened is captivity, there now being more of them in captivity than wild and free. These guys in the picture, in spite of appearances, are captive:
And what about this little guy below? Is he captive or is he free? Men without tigers, tigers free in the wild, will be different. Men everywhere, in tiger land or not, will have lost by their own neglect one more essential ingredient of their lives.