What’s furry, has claws and triggers the end of the world? You guessed it. It’s your trusted, feline friend: your cat. And cats are not the only animals causing problems. Rabbits do it. Frogs do. Yes, even the cute Giant Panda is helping to blow the world to kingdom come. Sit back -- and shiver!
If you felt sorry for the dinosaurs, consider this. At this very moment, we’re in the middle of a period of mass extinction that’s actually WORSE than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. You read that right. More species go extinct at this very moment than during the last days of the dinosaur!
You see, it took the dinosaurs thousands of years to die out altogether. Today, the speed of extinction is higher -- much higher. Each day, an estimated seventy species go bust. That’s seventy species! Gone. Not to be seen ever again. A few centuries more, and half of all species will no longer be here. Thanks to the meteor impact called 'mankind'.
Now, that IS a problem. In nature, everything is linked to everything else. Everything that lives relies on other living things. And the really bad news is, of course, that we are also part of nature. What would we eat if it wasn’t for our crops and livestock? Shoes? And what would we breathe?
It would take a library to explain what exactly is happening to the animals and the plants on our planet. For now, some brief highlights will do, just to show you how serious and weird matters really are. So enter the cats, the frogs, the snails, the insects - the whole zoo.
File # 1:
The Case of Osama Bin Leopard
Remember Afghanistan? In 2002, the US army used cluster bombs and oxygen sucking fuel bombs to rid the Afghan caves of Al Qaida bad guys. Unfortunately, someone else was hiding there too. That was the snow leopard, one of the rarest animals on the planet.
Just picture it. Osama's bearded boys, holding hands with the mighty snow leopard in some cave. Then: BOOM! BURN! CHOKE! Bye-bye boys. And bye-bye snow leopard.
But while there are plenty of bearded boys left on the planet, the same cannot be said of the leopard. The animal has probably gone extinct in Afghanistan by now -- a by-product of war. Few people know of it. And even fewer seem to care. The mighty predator of the mountains happened to be a stand in the way in a silly human war over religion, power and such. At this moment, there are an estimated 5,000 snow leopards left on the planet. That could be too little for survival.
File # 2:
The Case of the Evil Cat
As I write this, Molly the cat is on my lap, having a nap. Lizzy, my other cat, is outside, chasing birds, or picking a fight with another cat. You see, my next door neighbor has two cats as well. The neighbors on the other side have three cats, the neighbors after that have five. In the street where I live, there are more cats than people!
And that is a problem. All those cats catch lots of birds and mice and rats and butterflies. Biologically speaking, cats are eating a huge hole in the food chain. No, seriously! According to several alarming reports, this is exactly what is happening in countries like the United Kingdom, Sweden and my own country, Holland. Bird species are vanishing, mouse subspecies are going extinct. All because of Molly, and Lizzy, and the other many billions of domestic cats that inhabit the planet today.
Where would that all lead? A planet, exclusively inhabited by cats and people? Hmmm. Just take a guess. My cat Molly has left my lap now. Probably off to catch another mouse.
File # 3:
The Case Of The "Cute" Panda
Humans are a friendly species. We like animals. That’s why we can’t stand it the Bonobo monkey and the Giant Panda are about to go extinct. No way we’ll let the beautiful lion, the cute chimpanzee or the impressive elephant go extinct! We build another natural reserve.
But hold it. In fact, the species we adore are only a slight minority. Who cares for snails, insects, snakes, lice, or spiders? These species are in trouble, too. But they’re not cute enough. Humans simply don’t like them. We’ll let them go extinct, and won’t miss a night’s sleep over it.
‘Survival of the cutest’, is the word for that. Biologists use it sometimes when they argue that we’re protecting the wrong species. On our lists of ‘endangered species’, there are plenty of beautiful and furry and funny animals. But no snails, cockroaches or flees. Not to mention the microbes, that are by far the most important species on Earth.
File # 4:
The Case of the Dead Frog
It is a mystery. Everywhere in the world, frogs are dying. There seems to be no specific reason for it. Everywhere around, they’re just kicking the bucket, for no apparent reason. There you have it: the frog problem.
It could be pollution. It could be the hole in the ozone layer. It could be a fungus. It could be acid rain. It could be all these things combined.
Whatever the reason, biologists are very worried. Apart from the fact that a frogless world would be a rather empty place, the frog problem could be some kind of warning. Frogs are known to be quite vulnerable. So who’s next? Us?
File # 5:
Invasion Of The Killer Rabbits
The dingo did it. So did the rabbit. They invaded a place where nature never meant them to be.
Well, `invaded’ isn’t the right word, really. Humans brought them over, of course. The Dutch brought their cats to Australia. The British took foxes and dogs to New Zealand. The mighty Vikings introduced the cute rabbit in Scotland. The gypsies took the gypsy moth to the US. And now, there’s trouble all over the place. Down under, there aren’t suppose to be any predators. In the US, there aren’t suppose to be any gypsy moths. Nature just didn’t expect it.
So disaster strikes. In the US, about a fourth of the agricultural gross national product is lost each year to foreign plant pests such as the dreaded boll weevil (from Mexico) and the leafy spurge (brought by Europeans). In New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and many other countries, zillions of rabbits drive the locals insane, digging about like crazy.
Not to mention those evil, evil cats again. In New Zealand and Australia, the cats gobble up rare birds and mammals. Such as the poor, innocent kiwi bird. For crying out loud, the poor thing doesn’t even has wings! Evolution thought that without cats, there was no need for wings. But evolution got it wrong.
It isn’t a nice thing to say, but the real problem is mankind. Humans are in the habit of messing up everything they do everywhere they go all of the time.
They are a harmful species, these humans -- almost as harmful as cats.
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