Saturday, February 10, 2007
From the mouths of babes
My son Samuel (just shy of 4) has always had a fascination with the epic depiction of life revealed by the creative genius of the blue planet. From an early age he has sat and watched Mr Attenborough wax lyrical about everything from blue whales to plangton - and loved every second - so for christmas he got the next chapter - Planet Earth
The makers of The Blue Planet present the epic story of life on Earth. Five years in production, over 2000 days in the field, using 40 cameramen filming across 200 locations, this is the ultimate portrait of our planet. A stunning television experience that combines rare action, unimaginable scale, impossible locations and intimate moments with our planet's best-loved, wildest and most elusive creatures. From the highest mountains to the deepest rivers, this series takes you on an unforgettable journey through the challenging seasons and the daily struggle for survival in Earth's most extreme habitats.
Where am I going with this? Well, the other day I read an article stating that there are just a few thousand tigers left, only seven hundred mountain gorillas and just one hundred Iberian lynx. Now Samuel loves animals and I mean LOVES them and was interested in the article I was reading. When I told him that if attitudes and systems didn't change then some of these animals may not exist when he was my age. He said nothing (which is unusual) just stared off into his imagination I guess.
Later that night whilst watching the afore mentioned planet earth he broke the silence by announcing that 'it was very good that he had this dvd because when I am your age daddy some of these animals may not exist'....then he looked straight at me and said, 'but I would rather them be alive than just on my television, that would be better wouldn't it daddy?'
.....yes, i said, it would
There are twice as many privately owned tigers in America as there are in the wild across the world. Maybe 3,000 to 4,500 Bengal tigers, 1,500 Indo-Chinese tigers and 500 Sumatran tigers and there may be 20-30 Souh China tigers left - if they aren't extinct already. In the past 150 years, 93% of tigers' original habitat has been lost; in the last 100 years the world's tiger population has declined by 95%.
There are thought to be around 30,000 orang-utans in the wild in Borneo and Sumatra; they tend to inhabit lowland forest, in fertile land coveted by farmers. Their habitats are fast disappearing as Indonesia expands its palm oil production (Palm oil is the second largest oil crop after soy)....I don't need to explain what will happen to the orang-utan if this continues
It seems a crime that the leatherback turtles, having been around for 150 million years (outliving dinosauurs and asteroid impacts) should decline 95% in just 20 years because of our fishing practice - longline fishing use a kind of hook (thousands of them) where turtles become trapped - evidently switching to a different type of hook would drastically reduce turtle by-catch
Ellen MacArthur last month said the albatross was "the most amazing bird i've been lucky enough to see" Well, 19 out of 21 species of these iconic birds are threatened with extinction - seems longline fishing does as much damage above the water as it does below
Cod is not the most attractive of fish, but we will miss it (particularly in Britain - fish and chip shops big business is cod and chips) when it's gone, and it's population rapidly decreasing. If we carry on fishing at the rate we do cod will be off our menus in less than 15 years.
Only 100 are left in the wild. The world's most endangered cat lives not in Africa, nor Asia but in Western Europe! If it becomes extinct it will be the first big cat the world has lost since the sabre-toothed tiger 10,000 years ago....
In the forests around Africa's Great Lakes (Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC) there are around 700 mountain gorillas left - poaching and habitat is an ongoing problem
There are only 100 Western Pacific grey whales left in our oceans - and only 2 dozen or so females of breeding age
They used to roam in colonies from Lebanon all the way to France, but now the Mediterranean monk seal survive in two main colonies - only between 300-500 have survived. Fishing again seems to be a problem
Sea ice is shrinking at a rate of 10% a year - in 30 years the arctic could have no ice at all during the summer. Polar bears live on this ice and drift for miles hunting - they have recently been seen swimming in 60 miles of open sea - at this rate by 2040 the ice back will have dropped back significantly enough to see a huge decline in the biggest of bears
I am no expert but could I suggest that we are not being good stewards of this precious gift called earth - I find it ironic that multinationals such as Nestle (again!) are part responsible for the decline of tigers (they buy coffee beans from illegal plantations which the tigers used to inhabit) - Shell and Gazpron whose gas and oil platform development is a threat to sea life. Not to mention that man in the White House who refuses to sign the kyoto agreement because there is no proof that global warming and gas emissions are connected - well last time i looked there was no proof that the Almighty exists either, but evidently he still believes in Him......sobering isn't it. I hope all these remarkable creatures are still around for our children and children's children to enjoy