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When does wild end?

I was watching the fundraising campaign for the BBC wildlife fund on TV. Definitely behind the general idea, but watching the article about macaws in Guatamala triggered a thought.

The fledgling birds are given a weekly vet check and medical treatment, and are clearly well used to being handled. Now, that's great for their welfare, and seems like a good way to ensure maximum survival rates for this very endangered bird.

But when every individual of a species is identified, tracked, protected and monitored, at what point is that species no longer 'in the wild?'

I've had this thought before - for example, a while ago smirnoffmule  posted about wild birds dying in the remote Pacific because they had eaten plastic.  One of the commenters said something along the lines of  what a pity, can someone not feed them so that they don't have to scavenge?  And of course, what the birds are doing is hunting, not scavenging,  they can't tell plastic from prey. But it made me pause, that thought.  How many 'wild' garden birds exist purely because peanuts are regularly provided to support them?

And of course there is the recent outburst of fury against foxes, after the extremely unusual attack on two toddlers.  Apparently we don't accept any level of risk at all from wild animals sharing our space, and foxes 'should be in the country' not the town.  (Presumably the people who believe that think that people who don't live in towns never reproduce.  And that the tiger and the leopard should be totally exterminated, because if living within the territories of  foxes is an unacceptable level of risk, what can we say of the larger predators?)

In fact, are we moving towards a situation where there are now so many people, and so few areas where there are few people, and so many critically endangered species, and so many man-made perils, that the world is becoming universally domesticated?  

(The followup thought is a rather fearful one about the sheer delicacy and vulnerability of that situation.  Tiny vulnerable populations of many species, maintained only by human intervention survive only as long as the human population is well fed and generally content with its lot, which is a situation which is bound to be subject to change). 

I encounter many domestic animals that get far worse quality of care than those 'wild' macaws...


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
21st Jun, 2010 11:55 (UTC)
It's frightening to think that everything only exists on this planet with the good will of mankind and I'm sure if the last breeding pair of tigers in the world dared to kill a human, they would still pay for their crime. The really frustrating thing is that we also have the means to solve all this. People don't live that long and if the birth rate could only be halved, 50 years from now things might look very different.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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