Trophy hunters claim that their money pays for the conservation of endangered animals. But how significant is the money from hunting compared to ecotourism? Why are hunters so obsessed with killing “dangerous” animals – and what does that say about how them? And how has hunting affected animals and their cultures? Using the example of African lions, I explain how trophy hunting destroyed a relationship of mutual respect and trust between people and predators, and how we can protect our wildlife and our Earth from the scourge of hunting – legal and otherwise.
In 1835, Charles Darwin, on his historic voyage, visited Chile, where he met a German naturalist called Renous. Renous had recently been jailed for heresy (of all things). He was raising caterpillars to study butterflies, but the good people of San Fernando did not know that caterpillars turn into butterflies. Surely, turning one animal into another was witchcraft!
We now know what a caterpillar is, but even so, more than 180 years later, we still know little about butterflies. Each year, Monarch butterflies make a voyage far more impressive than Darwin’s, flying over 7500 km (4700 miles) from the eastern U.S. to Mexico and back – that’s like a human being circling the globe 2325 times!  Their migration routes were a total mystery till 1975! And it took another 40 years to discover how they find directions.
Amazingly, Monarchs time-compensate the sun’s location to navigate correctly (meaning that they know that the sun is in the east in the morning, and in the west in the evening). But how do they navigate when the sky is overcast? The answer: They can see guiding lines in the sky! Continue reading
Picture this: You’re a harvest mouse who lives in a wheat field. Being a mouse, you have excellent hearing and can easily pick up sounds that a human cannot hear. Thanks to your sensitive whiskers and small size, you’re acutely attuned to vibrations caused by large machines. Although your eyesight isn’t the best in the world, your eyes are situated high on your head and offer an excellent all-round view. And to top that off, you have lightning reflexes and dash about at a top speed of 8 miles an hour.
Now imagine that you’re perched idly on a stalk of wheat, your tail curled around it like a fifth limb. You’re smelling the crisp morning air and feeling the sun shining on your face. But then, the ground starts to shudder as a 3 ton, 4-cylinder diesel-engined combine harvester ominously starts heading your way – which, by the way, you can see without even turning your head. What will you do?
- Run like hell
- Humbly await your fate on a Kentish plum
Mike Archer, a paleontologist, goes with Option 2, which makes me wonder if he should be spending more time with living animals instead of extinct ones. Continue reading