Cut and move on,
Cut and move on:
take out trees,
take out wildlife at the rate of a species
every single day.
I was sitting in a friend's garden on Sunday with the wildlife of Nottinghamshire flitting and around and entertaining us with a few songs, I brought up a subject I'd had on my mind for a while now. For some reason I recently flicked through the Brooke Bond Picture Card album Wildlife in Danger and I mentioned to my friends about how I wanted to check through the fifty species mentioned to see how many were now extinct. They sagely nodded and thought it a worthwhile pursuit.
I have mentioned this series before but essentially, in the 1960s P G Tips tea regularly gave away cards that we collected and glued into our little books. This one cost sixpence which shows how old it is. It was first published in 1963. So my little seven year old self was busy collecting cards and sticking them in badly so the pages occasionally stuck together all those years ago. I got all fifty of them. Even if some of the species hadn't survived, the album has. It also shows that we drank a lot of P G Tips in the sixties (I've still got plenty of the other collections!).
Anyway, yesterday I spent a short while checking every one of the species in the album. Some of them seem bizarre, almost as if they were made up or had featured in The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges. I was sure that I was going to be quite depressed afterwards, which is why I'd put off checking them out for a while. However, as I worked through the EDGE and Wikipedia sites my heart was lifted by the news that nearly all of the species have survived. That doesn't mean to say that everything is rosy - many remain critically vulnerable or in low numbers. Given that most of the species were, even then, becoming endangered because of mankind, it is only really due to human attempts to stop them from disappearing that has saved them from inevitable extinction.
story here was a fascinating read. There are quite a few creatures in the album that have become extinct at some point in the wild but through reintroduction programmes are now, at least, hanging on. In some cases the creatures that have been reintroduced into the wild are now thriving such as the Splendid Parakeet. The only creature in the album that I have genuinely seen in the wild is the Californian Condor. In the album it claimed that there were about 60-65 individuals left in 1963 and according to Wikipedia they became extinct in the wild in 1987. Due to being reintroduced they seem to be surviving. Still the veracity of Wikipedia is called into question here as the EDGE site tells a slightly different story. They're supposed to be protected now but it would seem all is not well. One of the main problems for them is lead poisoning from hunter's spent cartridges.
About ten years ago we were standing looking out over the Grand Canyon when several of these huge birds flew up from below us - there was an audible gasp from everyone there. Spectacular.
Another bird that is only just hanging on is Stellar's Albatross with its seven foot wingspan, because of the vast distances they fly it's difficult to keep perfect records but it is, just about, still with us. The Galapagos Giant Tortoise which is featured on the cover became extinct as a sub-species in 2012 when the last surviving one 'Lonesome George' died. Technically he was a Pinta Island Tortoise but him and his kind have gone the way of the Dodo now. The Leathery Turtle managed to survive in their thousands but our propensity for plastic bags has become a major problem. The turtles, along with many other sea species, assume the floating bags are their main source of food - jellyfish. Obviously with devastating results.
Another little chap that is still having a hard time clinging on is the Giant Fijian Wood Boring Beetle.
All-in-all I was relatively impressed that we have managed to stop the wholesale extinction of many of these creatures but it's still quite unsettling to see the devastating impact we've had. The fifty species identified back in 1963 for the most part have managed to lurch into the Twenty First Century which is good to know. However, the EDGE Project gives the picture that we still continue to have a ridiculously devastating impact on the World.