Juvenile gorillas dismantle snares set by bushmeat poachers in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park; a wolverine destroys a trapline somewhere in the Arctic; a cow breaks free and temporarily escapes a terrible death at a slaughterhouse; Gustave, a giant crocodile, has been killing people and eluding his would-be captors since 1998.
It’s tempting to imagine these cases as precursors to a long-overdue animal uprising; there’s a war going on and the animals are beginning to fight back. Could this be the start of a new resistance movement, the likes of which the world has not seen since the Nazis occupied much of Europe?
Make no mistake, there is a war going on—humans are in the role of the Nazis, while animals are the unarmed freedom fighters. To quote a character in a novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer, “Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” Despite their remarkable resourcefulness, non-human animals are still centuries behind the rampant human aggressors, whose power seems to grow as fast as their population.
Homo sapiens have had the upper hand ever since they were recognizable as a species. But it took hundreds of thousands of years of chewing the fat (literally and figuratively) around the bonfire, watching each other pound rocks into sharper and sharper weapons, before their technological advances and self-aggrandizing religions set them apart from our fellow earthlings (at least in their own minds).
Non-human animals reside in the here and now, blessed with just enough intelligence to live in relative harmony with nature. They aren’t cursed with the oversized brain and overwhelming ego that has led Homo sapiens to the notion that they’re entitled to exploit or exterminate all other species as they see fit.
The story of the proactive juvenile gorillas is heartening, but sadly their accomplishment came two days after a member of their clan died in one of the hundreds of snares set for antelope. Whether humans act out of greed or desperation, the end result is always the same for the animals killed, and Mother Nature herself suffers a blow every time another strand of biodiversity is severed.
Fortunately, more and more selfless people worldwide are siding with the animals and joining the resistance: a pioneering family of conservationists breaks ties with a powerful trophy elk-hunting group in response to its anti-wolf rhetoric; Sea Shepherd supporters fight to save sharks, whales and seals the world over; trackers and primatologists make daily rounds to dismantle poachers’ snares, in alliance with our peaceful primate cousins.
History has shown that if good people work together, even a blitzkrieg can be stopped in its tracks.