Category Archive 'Conservation'

12 Jun 2018

Why A Decline In Hunting Could Be Bad News For Nature Lovers


24 Sep 2016

The Nearly Extinct Gharial

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Ark in Space:

This strange looking creature, with its immensely long and delicate snout is the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). Until very recently it thrived throughout the Indian sub-continent but now it numbers less than a few hundred in the wild. …

Once it flourished and could be found in all of the major rivers of India and Pakistan. The Indus, which has its source in Tibet and flows through Pakistan and Northern India had gharials along almost its entire length. Now, in this vast river not a single one may be found.

It is the same in many other major river systems. The list is depressingly long. The Irrawaddy in Myanmar holds none, neither does the Brahmaputra of Bhutan and Bangladesh – and this is not counting the many tributaries of these vast waterways. In fact the gharial can now be found in only 2% of its former territory.

These survivors from the age of the dinosaur need our help to survive – or it will be goodbye to them forever within a few decades. There are nine protected areas in India for the gharial. Eggs are often collected in the wild and raised in captivity. …

Over 3,000 young gharial have been released under these operations. Even so, it is thought that at most there are only around 400 breeding pairs in the wild. …

There are about ten places in Asia where the gharial is bred in captivity with the young released in to the wild at around the age of three. Another 8 centers in the US and 3 in Europe also offer some hope to the gharial.


08 Jan 2013

Hunting Lessons From Obsidian Wings

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William G. Zincavage (my father) fulfilling his top-of-the-food-chain responsibilities in 1947.

Last month, NYM linked an article on Slate reporting that hunting was catching on among left-wing, bicycle-riding hipsters as a sort of an extension of back-to-the-land locavore fashion. The hippie berry-pickers and mushroom-gatherers have been slowly evolving into hunters.

Today, we find, on the eminently leftist blog Obsidian Wings, an article by an anti-gun suburbanista from New Jersey styling herself “Doctor Science,” who has suddenly discovered that hunters have an important role to play in wildlife population management.

The way I see it, humans are the top predator around here[6], and we have an ecological obligation to act like it. Which means killing deer[7], especially the young ones and the does. In other words, for food. The reason the venison we had last week was so exceptionally scrumptious was because it came from a 2-year-old antlerless animal, just the kind you’d select if they were farm-raised.

What I’m seeing in NJ is that hunters and birders (and other conservationists) are working together more than used to be the case. …

I don’t know if there will be a shift in hunting culture, if hunters in places like NJ come to see themselves as ecological agents who don’t just “harvest” or exploit wild animals, they use their skills to perform crucial tasks of population control and management.

“Doctor Science” (I keep struggling to suppress a derisive snort every time I read her self-application of that undoubtedly grossly exaggerated appelative) attributes her enlightenment on the unfashionable subject of hunting to her being a bird watcher.

We spend time outside, cultivating patience, observational skills, and learning to keep our feet warm. Birding definitely taps into part of the ancient hunting impulse, to chase things down and find them out. I can definitely understand hunting on a gut level and see the appeal, even though I’d be a pretty terrible hunter.

I think she’s probably right about the last, since she is obviously pretty lousy at finding things out.

If she was much of a hunter of information, about birding, for instance, she’d know that wildlife in North America generally was saved from extinction, parks and gamelands created, habitat preserved, commercial hunting suppressed, and bird and animal species successfully managed (and sometimes dramatically restored) by hunters.

She would know that John James Audubon invariably reduced to possession with a gun the Birds of America he recorded in his paintings.

She would know that the Conservation Movement of the late 19th century that preserved from extinction, and brought back only too successfully, those white-tailed deer she finds delicious was created entirely by prominent sportsmen, by men like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Charles Sheldon, William T. Hornaday, John C. Phillips, Aldo Leopold, and others. All of those gentlemen wrote books which the lady could hunt up and read. There is also a general survey of the history of the conservation movement in this country, published in 1975, and titled An American Crusade for Wildlife.

“Doctor Science” is sufficiently self-enamored to suggest that hunters ought to become more like left-wing suburban bird watchers, give up their NRA memberships, quit liking and collecting guns, and use firearms guiltily, reluctantly, and only when thinking of them as food harvesting implements. Aesthetic, historical, technological, and associative sentimental appreciation of firearms would be wrong. Just as hunting for sport, for the personal pleasure of participatory experience of the active role in the natural contest of predator and prey, for the aesthetic awareness of the ritual of the chase, and for the sense of self-identification with a rich, immemorial tradition would be wrong. It is only right, she tells us, to hunt in order to acquire “healthy, clean meat to feed my family.”

It is typical of self-congratulatory liberal narcissism to think that one’s own provincial and Philistine outlook and motivations represent the supreme moral ideal that the rest of mankind needs to be taught to emulate.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

14 Jul 2009

Sanitizing Agriculture

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Fueled by litigation and media-fed paranoia, the dissociation between homo urbanicus and Nature has broken through to a fresh new level of insanity, as demonstrated by this SF Chronicle story. Retail buyers are now increasingly demanding that growers make a desert in order to grow sanitized greens.

Dick Peixoto planted hedges of fennel and flowering cilantro around his organic vegetable fields in the Pajaro Valley near Watsonville to harbor beneficial insects, an alternative to pesticides.

He has since ripped out such plants in the name of food safety, because his big customers demand sterile buffers around his crops. No vegetation. No water. No wildlife of any kind.

“I was driving by a field where a squirrel fed off the end of the field, and so 30 feet in we had to destroy the crop,” he said. “On one field where a deer walked through, didn’t eat anything, just walked through and you could see the tracks, we had to take out 30 feet on each side of the tracks and annihilate the crop.”

In the verdant farmland surrounding Monterey Bay, a national marine sanctuary and one of the world’s biological jewels, scorched-earth strategies are being imposed on hundreds of thousands of acres in the quest for an antiseptic field of greens. And the scheme is about to go national.

A must read.

All kinds of formerly common wildlife vanished in the aftermath of WWII, when the Department of Agriculture popularized tidier, edge-to-edge farming practices which eliminated the hedgerows, borders, and waste spaces where birds and small animals could find shelter and reproduce. One conspicuous result was Goodbye, wild ringneck pheasant! from my native state of Pennsylvania, just for instance.

One can just picture the mind-boggling toll of losses produced by the countless thousands of acres of sterile bird-weed-and-animal-free arugula growing to fill the produce bins of Whole Foods.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

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