COVID-19 is nature’s revenge

I’m in the checkout line at the supermarket. Six feet separates me from the people in front of me unloading their groceries onto the conveyer belt. Behind their N95 facemasks I can see the anxiety in their eyes.

They’re leaning as far away from the cashier as possible to maintain a safe zone around them. It’s hard for me not to notice the items being tallied as the red scanner beeps loudly. Pearl onions, chili powder, People magazine, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, chicken wings, BBQ sauce. Then it occurs to me. We’re doomed. This is it. We are in over our heads, and we’re not going to make it.

This is, by any measure, the largest health emergency of my, over-half-century-lifetime. A viral pandemic sweeps the globe. A sickness unleashed by our human exploitation of animals in an Asian meat market, and our response? Quarantine us at home with dry rubbed chicken wings with BBQ sauce.

I know what you’re thinking. Damn! That sounds delicious! Am I right? OK. Let’s pull the lens back to wide angle for a minute and have a look around.

It’s almost as if nature, and the animals themselves are holding up a protest sign, arms extended overhead, marching down main street, saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

A majority of emerging infectious diseases in humans — including COVID-19, Mad Cow Disease, Bird Flu, MERS, SARS, Ebola, HIV, Swine flu, and cholera all came from animals, and how we treat them.

Bird flu came from chickens. Swine flu came from pigs. Mad Cow Disease came from cows. Ebola came from bats. And now COVID -19 seems to have originated from a nasty meat-market cocktail of slaughtered pigs, dogs, cats, bats, turtles, chickens, and pangolins. Just in case our ethnocentric defenses were raised when considering the food habits of people in a faraway land. Keep in mind, that animals on industrial factory farms in the good-ole U.S. of A. are so highly confined that the only defense against bio-catastrophic viral outbreaks are massive amounts of overused antibiotics. Antibiotics passed on to us through the food system. Antibiotics that will no longer work given that these mutant viral eruptions have clever tendencies to overcome.

It’s almost as if nature, and the animals themselves are holding up a protest sign, arms extended overhead, marching down main street, saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Stop exploiting us! But are we listening? Is this new pandemic enough for us to take a look at how we exploit and consume animals? After all, our own existence is in jeopardy. It’s obvious, what we’re doing to animals is killing us, too.

I’ve had a plant-based diet for over 35 years. I had my own mini-awakening when examining our unhealthy meat-centric food system.

I learned that a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food. Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.

As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization recommends a plant-based diet to help prevent obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

Forgive my hyperbolic meltdown in the supermarket earlier when observing the general public’s food choices. I’m not as hopeless as my melodramatic self claims to be. More and more people are making the connection that eating plants instead of animals is healthier for us, more sustainable for the earth, and obviously a better deal for animals.

I’ll ask the question we’re all thinking. But why are vegans so annoying? I know, I know, we can be.

I don’t have the answers to all of our questions. But there is one thing I do know, our exploitive relationship with animals and nature is the reason why the world is on lockdown, and choosing to eat plants instead of animals is a giant step toward a better future.

John Merryfield lives in Tahoe City.

The story of rhino poaching, elephant trampling and man-eating lions is even more complicated

Craig Packer is the director of the Lion Center, a research and conservation center at the University of Minnesota. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)Lions eat people. In fact, they eat them all the time. And although the news last week focused on a suspected rhino poacher who was eaten by lions after being trampled by elephants, the story may tell us more about the hazards of poverty than about nature taking vengeance against the sins of mankind.

In southern Tanzania, lions attacked nearly 900 people in a 15-year period starting in the 1990s, and two-thirds of their victims died. The motive? Humans make a decent food source. These lions, who had lost most of their normal prey to habitat damage and human population growth, instead began consuming bush pigs, a native species that is also a serious and nocturnal crop pest.
Craig Packer

To protect their crops, subsistence farmers had to sleep in their fields at harvest time. Lions followed the pigs to the fields, and some learned to add sleeping farmers to their diet.
A similarly desperate situation has persisted for many years in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, which is located along the border with the much poorer nation of Mozambique. Impoverished Mozambicans seeking employment in South Africa have continuously attempted to cross Kruger Park on foot, and hundreds have ended up victims to Kruger’s many lions.
I once met a Kruger ranger who had recently performed a routine inspection of a dead lion in the middle of the park. Its stomach contents included a human hand.
In recent years, Kruger has attracted another type of illicit foot traffic: As home to one of the largest remaining populations of rhinos, it has drawn record numbers of poachers. From the point of view of a poor family in Mozambique, a single rhino horn is the equivalent of a year’s salary. The risks of getting caught by rangers, trampled by elephants or eaten by lions may seem insubstantial compared to the opportunity to feed your entire family for a whole year.
Not all rhino poachers are poor villagers — the trade in illegal animal parts can attract a broad section of corrupt society, including drug dealers and gun traders. And while I don’t know if last week’s suspected poacher was acting out of desperation or greed, the fact that he was on foot implies a similar dilemma as a Tanzanian farmer who must choose between the near certain loss of his sole crop of the year versus the risks of a lion attack.
So, when I read about the death of the Kruger rhino poacher, I thought first of the poverty that drives so many people toward danger. Add in Mozambique’s overwhelming humanitarian disaster caused by last month’s Cyclone Idai, and there’s even more reason to ask what drove this man into the park in the first place. The combination of rhino poaching, elephant trampling and man-eating lions may have captured the attention of the moment, but this man wasn’t the first — and he won’t be the last.
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In the industrialized world, we view lions and elephants with affection and an enduring sense of awe. But all-pervasive poverty is the root cause of the conservation crisis in Africa — land is increasingly scarce, elephants trample crops and lions kill livestock and people.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals aim to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. If this lofty ambition were actually to be achieved, we might one day be justified in considering a trampled poacher to have received his just deserts, but until then, let’s also consider the possibility that his death might signify a much larger problem.

‘Large-bodied’ Canadian wolves to help keep U.S. moose population in check

WolvesWolves are seen in a 2009 handout image on Isle Royale National Park, Michigan. (Michigan Technological University, Rolf O. Peterson)

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2019 4:50PM EST 

The transfer of up to six wolves from a northern Ontario island where they were starving to the U.S. is getting underway following a weeks-long delay caused by the federal government shutdown south of the border.

The small pack, including the alpha male and female, will be moved from Michipicoten Island to Isle Royale National Park, on the U.S. side of Lake Superior, where American officials hope the wolves will help keep the moose population in check.

“We need to get these wolves off the island, otherwise they’ll die,” said Aaron Bumstead, director of lands and economic development with Michipicoten First Nation who is co-ordinating the move with the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Last year, the province and the First Nation used several helicopters to move a total of 15 caribou — a threatened species in Ontario — off Michipicoten Island. Nine of the animals were transferred to the Slate Islands, and the other six to Caribou Island.

They were the last remaining caribou from a once-thriving herd on Michipicoten Island that started with just eight caribou in 1982 and grew to more than 700 by 2013, when four wolves reached the island after making the 15-kilometre trek across an ice bridge that formed on the lake.

There they found a bounty of caribou to feast on. But as the small pack grew to more than a dozen wolves in the following years, their food source — the caribou — all but disappeared. Now the wolves themselves are in danger, said Bumstead.

“We’ve been asking (the ministry) for a plan to remove the wolves from the island since last year,” Bumstead said. “And there still is no plan to remove the ones that don’t get moved to Isle Royale.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Natural Resources said she wouldn’t comment on the wolves’ transfer until the animals were captured and transferred to the U.S.

Bumstead said efforts to capture the wolves on Michipicoten Island were unsuccessful Wednesday. The two wolves they saw wouldn’t come out from under cover, he said, so they’ll try again Thursday.

American officials and researchers with Isle Royale are anxious to receive the Canadian wolves because it will help save the park’s current pack, which dwindled this fall to just a non-breeding father-daughter pair.

The move was slated to occur in early January, but that was shelved because of the U.S. federal government shutdown, said Isle Royale National Park superintendent Phyllis Green.

“The Canadian wolves are robust, large and definitely know how to hunt ungulates since they took that caribou herd down to nothing,” Green said.

There is an overabundance of moose on Isle Royale, and without enough wolves to keep their population in check their numbers will continue to grow, said Rolf Peterson, a research professor at Michigan Technological University who has been studying the wolves and moose on the island for the past 48 years.

His research — the world’s longest running predator-prey study — was also threatened by the U.S. government shutdown. On Friday, just hours before U.S. President Donald Trump temporarily ended the government shutdown, the Isle Royale National Park had secured funding from a non-profit organization to go ahead with its part in the wolves’ transfer from Canada. The funding also allowed it to open the park to researchers to continue the predator-prey study.

“The shutdown jeopardized the integrity of the data and of the entire study itself,” said Peterson, who plans to return to the park as soon as the Canadian wolves are moved.

“These large-bodied Canadian wolves are incredibly important,” he said. “They can help save both the wolf pack and the balsam fir.”

The moose on the island, with a population of about 1,600, have decimated the balsam fir trees on the island.

Twenty-two years ago, a lone wolf, likely from Canada, made its way on an ice bridge onto Isle Royale, Peterson said, and was a wildly successful mate with offspring in every pack and eventually his genes made their way into every single younger generation wolf on the island.

“Then the kill rate of moose by wolves reached a level we hadn’t ever seen before in 50 years. They were killing 20 per cent of the moose every year, which had implications for the forest,” Peterson said.

“We saw forest regeneration we had never seen before.”

But that wolf, dubbed the “Old Grey Guy,” Green said, was so successful that inbreeding became very severe. Eventually the wolf population crashed and bottomed out at two, which is when the park decided it needed outside help. Four wolves were brought in from Minnesota in the fall, but one died of pneumonia a month later.

Green said they knew about the issues facing the wolves on Michipicoten Island and Michigan’s governor at the time, Rick Snyder, reached out to Ontario Premier Doug Ford to ask for “an infusion of Canadian wolves.”

Ford agreed.

“Let’s hope everything goes well with the move,” Bumstead said.

How would a species’ extinction impact the food web, our ecosystems?

Every living thing plays a role in the food chain and Earth’s ecosystems, and the extinction of certain species, whether predators or prey, can leave behind significant impacts.

“Since the origin of life on Earth, it’s fair to say that more species have gone extinct than are currently alive now,” said Dr. Anthony Giordano, president and chief conservation officer of the Society for the Preservation of Endangered Carnivores and their International Ecological Study (SPECIES). “Extinction itself is part of the normal course of evolution.”

The effect a species would have if it were to fade from existence depends largely on its role in the ecosystem. Predators, for example, are often the first to be threatened by hunting or competition with people and resources, said Clemson University conservation biologist Dr. Robert Baldwin.

Rhinos - Pexels image

“Think about large animals like the grizzly bear,” Baldwin said. “When a predator goes extinct, all of its prey are released from that predation pressure, and they may have big impacts on ecosystems.”

The loss of a predator can result in what is called a trophic cascade, which is an ecological phenomenon triggered by a predator’s extinction that can also impact populations of prey, which can cause dramatic ecosystem and food web changes.

“If there are too many deer, for example, they can really change the ecosystem because they can destroy forests, and they also carry disease,” Baldwin said.

Scientists have noted the tropic cascade effect in parts of Africa where lion and leopard populations have dwindled, according to Smithsonian Magazine. It caused olive baboons to alter their behavior patterns and increase contact with nearby humans. The increased contact has led to a rise in intestinal parasites in both people and the baboons.

In the case of the northern white rhino, of which only two female rhinos now survive, the last male of the species was held in semi-captivity at the end of its life, and “the damage was already done in the ecosystem by that point,” Baldwin said.

However, in general, the loss of rhinos, which often face threats from humans, from the ecosystem can have wide-ranging effects, according to Baldwin, who noted that the rhino’s eating pattern helps with seed dispersal.

“They eat grasses and vegetation in one place, and they move and defecate in another place,” he said. “That helps those plants to disperse throughout the ecosystem, and it also helps populate the ecosystem with rhino food.”

The loss of abundant organisms that provide food for a wide variety of species would also interrupt the food web, according to Baldwin.

“For instance, if krill in the ocean goes extinct or becomes depressed in numbers, then that’s the bottom-up effect; predators that rely on krill will suffer,” he said.

While not at the top of the food chain, sea otters are keystone predators in the kelp forests in which they reside.

“The presence of sea otters in marine near-shore communities and coastal communities, particularly on the West Coast, have been shown to be essential and critical to healthy kelp forests underwater,” Giordano said.

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These kelp forests provide habitat for many species. “One of the ways sea otters help to maintain those kelp forests is by preying upon other species that would slowly start to eat or consume the kelp, which, if they were left unchecked, would then rattle the entire kelp bed and turn it into a rocky or barren wasteland,” Giordano said.

Species like parrot fish, which graze on algae, are extremely important to coral reef ecosystems because they prevent algae growth from getting out of control and impacting those coral reefs, according to Giordano.

“As algae expands in those communities, it can lead to the expansion of coral dead zones,” he added.

The loss of certain species can impact the ecosystem in a number of ways, Giordano said, but the issue is that researchers don’t yet know about many of the species out there.

A 2011 study concluded that about 86 percent of the Earth’s species have yet to be discovered, according to National Geographic.

“We know more about some of the larger ones, but for many species, especially the ones that are disappearing, we don’t know the impact of their loss,” he said.

A Depressing Thought

Some climate scientists (for example Gaia theorist, James Lovelock and grandfather, James Hansen), have embraced nulclear power as the carbon-neutral answer to our high energy needs in this modern world. They feel we’ve gone too far to turn back now–a depressing thought if there ever was one. Of course, almost no one is willing to point out that maybe there’s just too many people here on the planet today…


The fact that nuclear power plants will inevitably all have meltdowns if no one’s around to keep them going and keep them cool with thousands of gallons of water seems clearly the biggest threat to the future of Earth’s other species if humans were to suddenly check out (from say, nuclear war or pandemic, or starvation due to climate change, etc.).


Also, if jet traffic with its global cooling, cloud-like contrails in the stratosphere were to come to an abrupt end (the oil is going to run out some day, after all), the planet would quickly warm up to temperature levels not seen in hundreds of thousands of years (known as the Venus effect).


Sadly, there’s no easy answer.


We’re addicted to speed, madly shovelling coal into a freight train headed for a brick wall. It’s too late for the wish that humans would just go away and let nature take back over, putting things right again. At this point, the train is going to crash and there’s  no place left for humans to safely jump off.



How do Trump and Clinton differ on conservation?

Presidential campaigns offer a sneak peek into natural resource policies.

While speaking at a media summit last week organized by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in Fort Collins, Colorado, Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler, defended keeping federal lands managed by the government and open to the public. He also reiterated his father’s strong support for U.S. energy development, proposed some corporate sponsorships in national parks, questioned humans’ role in climate change, and criticized Hillary Clinton for “pandering” to hunters with “phoniness.” U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, spoke for Clinton’s campaign at the summit a day later, and provided plenty of contrast between the presidential candidates.

Trump Jr. has served as an adviser to his father on natural-resources issues and has even joked with family that, should his father win, he’d like to be Secretary of the Interior, overseeing national parks and millions of acres of federal public lands. In Fort Collins, he said he’s not “the policy guy,” but repeated his frequent pledge to be a “loud voice” for preserving public lands access for sportsmen. Trump Jr. also mocked some gun-control measures, such as ammunition limits, boasting, “I have a thousand rounds of ammunition in my vehicle almost at all times because it’s called two bricks of .22 … You know, I’ll blow…through that with my kids on a weekend.”

Donald Trump Jr. speaks with Field & Stream editor Mike Toth at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Western Media Summit, June 23, 2016.
Joshua Zaffos

Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, partly distinguished himself among other GOP candidates during primary season—not that that was a problem for the New York real-estate developer—by balking at the transfer of federal public lands to states or counties. While Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others expressed support for public-land transfers, kowtowing to some Western conservatives, Trump rejected the idea. Speaking to Field & Stream in January, Trump said: “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land.”

Trump Jr. reaffirmed that stance, but also supported more input for states as long as those efforts don’t jeopardize public access.

Trump, however, did attack the Bureau of Land Management and its “draconian rule,” writing in an op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal, also in January: “The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada. In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians.”

Rep. Thompson called Trump’s somewhat muddled stance of federal land management a “dangerous position to take,” saying Clinton unequivocally opposes public-land transfers. As far as Clinton’s sporting cred, Thompson said the Democratic candidate doesn’t pretend to be a hook-and-bullet enthusiast, but “she gets it” when it comes to access issues.

In a campaign loud with proclamations yet nearly vacant of substantive policies, the most in-depth view into Trump’s resource agenda came during his May speechat a North Dakota petroleum conference. Trump pledged to “save the coal industry,” approve the Keystone XL gas pipeline, roll back federal controls limiting energy development on some public lands, and withdraw the U.S. from the Paris global climate agreement. A Republican National Committee spokesman recently said more details on Trump’s energy and environmental policies should be coming soon. His son reiterated the campaign’s “very pro-U.S. energy” position, although he did say agencies should have some role in regulating energy development on public lands, referring to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed fracking rule that was recently rejected by a federal judge.

On climate change, Trump Jr. said U.S. and global policies shouldn’t penalize industries and, while acknowledging the strong scientific consensus on climate change and its causes, he added that humans’ and industries’ roles in global warming have “yet to be shown to me.”

Trump Jr. also offered mild support for the Endangered Species Act, saying it had achieved some successes, but argued the law has served as a “Trojan horse” to entirely prohibit development in some cases. He also suggested national-parks management and budgets could benefit from increased corporate partnerships. Trump’s son declared his own affinity for the backcountry and described national parks as being “a little bit too ‘tourist-ized’ for myself,” but he said, “I think there are ways you can do (corporate sponsorship) in a way that is beneficial” without installing flashing logos on natural features or commercializing the parks.

Clinton has shared several detailed policies on the environment and energy so far, including a white paper on land management and conservation that lays out support for a national park management fund and increased renewable energy development on public lands. Those proposals signal Clinton will “double down” on protecting public lands and preserving access, Thompson said.

Thompson also lauded Clinton for taking “a risky public position” on energy development—referring to her previous statement that she will put lots of coalmines “out of business”—but “she hasn’t backed away from it,” he said. “She understands there are better ways to generate the energy resources that we need.”

Joshua Zaffos is an HCN correspondent in Fort Collins, Colorado. Follow him@jzaffosHomepage image from Flickr user Gage Skidmore

Livingston on Development

From Rogue Primate by John A. Livingston:


Development is a fascinating concept. In the sense in which I learned to understand it, development means the gradual unfolding or realization of an organism, a community—or even an idea—toward a richer, finer, fuller, higher, or more mature state of being. The metamorphosis of a Luna moth, the emergence of a new seral stage in meadow succession, the growth of an embryo, the flowering of a thesis. In the contemporary technoculture, the word “development” is used to describe land speculation, land subdivision, construction, and the work of the wrecker’s ball on cherished old buildings in the city core. “Development” is also used to describe the advancement of the exotic ideology. It represents the crushing and scarification of forests, the mutilation and corruption of waterways, the savaging and toxification of the living soils.

The “development” ideologues do not hear the screaming of the buttress trees or the wailing of the rivers or the weeping of the soils. They do not hear the sentient agony and the anguish of the nonhuman multitudes—torn, shredded, crushed, incinerated, choked, and disposed. These are merely the external, incalculable, and incidental side-effects of the necessary progress of human civilization in its highest form.

“Development,” in the current usage, stands for the advancement of the exotic ideology and the subjugation of those external phenomena we call Nature…



Is hunting really a conservation tool?

A new UW-Madison study upends central notion about predator management


May 10, 2016

6:00 PM

– See more at:

Taking Life Too Seriously?

Two weeks ago Thursday I had what they call a mild stroke that ended me up in the hospital for five days. It came out of the blue, as 55 seems a young age for that sort of thing. But only now did I learn that this is considered a prime age for genetic history and stress to catch up with a person. I wasn’t aware of any cardiovascular trouble; I’m not a smoker or heavy drinker; I’ve always been physically active–skiing, hiking and other outdoor activities; and I’ve been vegan for nearly twenty years. The only thing I can think of is that since I’ve immersed myself in the plight of animals and the Earth and fully taken on the animal rights cause, I’ve had a lot of unresolved stress. Different people respond to stress differently, and for me it came out as a partial cardiovascular meltdown.

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

I’m recovering rapidly, but I still feel the effects of this on my left side and sometimes can hear it in my speech. Since it has been recommended that I read aloud, I’m going to read to my typist from John A. Livingston’s 1994 book, Rogue Primate:

“…Nature is complex and multispecific; the human environment is essentially simple and monospecific. True, there may be trees and shrubs and gardens where people live, a scattering of squirrels and starlings and pets, and sun and rain and snow, but the overwhelming presence is that of ourselves and our fabrications.

“This is most easily demonstrated in terms of sensory nourishment we receive in urban concentrations. Virtually everything we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste is of our own making. Worse, most of it is not even delivered to us by people; the bulk of nutrition for our senses is mediated by machines. A teenager sits on a concrete slab, feet resting on asphalt, eyes closed, hands clutching a plastic case, breathing swirling exhaust fumes, a headset piercing and battering both eardrums with screaming, shattering dissonance at a frightening decibel level.

“Everything this youngster sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes is a human artifact. His unidimensional experiential universe is one of homogenous, monospecific mass, with not the slightest differentiation. His sense organs, blunted as they are, need not be able to discriminate in any case; there is nothing to discriminate between. There is searing colour to be sure, and cacophony, and heat and cold, and there are strange metallic flavours, and surfaces smooth and rough, and there is terrible, unending qualitative sameness.

“Across the street there is a ‘park’ (a rectangle of mown lawn). On a bench lies a derelict, inert, unconscious and oblivious, his empty grail of solace is in its brown wrapper on the grass beneath him. As a child he may have encountered Nature. He may have once been wild. Perhaps he still is. Overlooking him there is a gigantic edifice of glass and steel, with guards and security monitors and air-conditioned seven-dollar-figure condominiums with chrome strips and tinted windows and mirrored walls, and with live beings actually inhabiting them. Behind, in a brick-walled protective enclosure, there is a children’s playground, with brightly painted climbing and crawling structures of metal pipe, padded with something made from synthetic polymers. There are sensate beings here, too. Little ones.

“I have described elsewhere what I call a kind of urban ‘sensory deprivation,’ and the perceptual (and thus conceptual) aberrations that follow from it. When perceptual and conceptual aberrations are shared across a society, they may be seen as institutionalized delusions. There are many of these in contemporary society, but none is more important, or more ironical, than the belief that high-tech urban ‘progress’ (i.e., emancipation from non-human environmental influences) is a major human achievement. R. D. Laing has said, ‘Human beings seem to have an almost unlimited capacity to deceive themselves, and to deceive themselves into taking their own lies for truth.’ It would appear that we have travelled so far in our cultural self-deceit that we actually believe we have no need of sensory stimulation or nutrition beyond that provided by ourselves. No need for experience of any influence that is not of human design and fabrication.

“Our willing (and indeed prideful) confinement within the many-mirrored echo-chamber of technological servitude is a towering irony, perhaps the ultimate in self-deceit. Like the feedlot steer in the dreary monotony of his experiential desert, we have lost all connection with being, all memory of sensibility of life context.”

Unlike the steer, humans have chosen this “life.”


‘Carnivore cleansing’ is damaging ecosystems, scientists warn

Extermination of large predators such as wolves and bears has a cascading effect on delicate ecological balance

Carnivore extermination damaging ecosystems : hunters drag wolves they killed, Belarus
Belarus hunters drag wolves they killed overnight near village Pruzhanka, some 110 km south-east of Minsk February 8, 2005. Hunting for wolfs in Belarus is legal throughout the whole year with a hunter getting 168,000 Belarus roubles ($77 US dollars) for every wolf killed. Photograph: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters