Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gorillas, Endangered, Being Executed in Congo

I’m not an animal person, okay. For example, I don’t care about (domesticated) cats or dogs. Frankly, it disturbs me how much we spend on pets in the United States ($41 billion according to a recent BusinessWeek report.) When it comes to the Michael Vick thing, I agree with some that his behavior was “barbaric,” but you can count me out of the group that “wouldn’t mind” seeing him executed (as one US Senator admitted).

However, one recent act of animal cruelty has me profoundly disturbed: the execution of mountain gorillas in the Congo. According to a New Scientist report, conservationists called the slaughter "executions - bullets to the head."
Why were members of an endangered species executed? For food? No. Were they after some obscure part of the gorillas for medicinal purposes? No. Self defense? No. The likely reasons: getting rid of tourists and charcoal.

According to New Scientist, “One theory is that the gorillas are victims of a conflict between those locals who see them as the basis for a tourist trade, and others who want them gone so they can use the forests to fuel a booming trade in charcoal.”

At the scene of the most recent killings, “six surviving gorillas have been given a 24-hour armed guard,” reports New Scientist.

So far this year, eight gorillas have been executed (
see the corpses here). There are only 700 left on Earth. That’s it. Do the math. One percent of the population have been exterminated because somebody resents tourists and can’t wait to sell charcoal. If the same thing happened to humans in the United States, say to get rid of employees at tourist attractions and make way for farmland, 3 million Americans would be dead. This is not okay.

One of the big reasons is that biodiversity (read: abundant, cheap food, medicine and other resources like oxygen and fresh water) on this planet is in serious jeopardy. How serious? According to
a May report in the Guardian (UK), many researchers believe “we are in the midst of a mass extinction event faster than that which wiped out the dinosaurs.” And what got us here? Attitudes like, “I don’t like tourists, so it’s okay to wipe out stuff they come to see,” and “well, if people are willing to buy charcoal, then I’m going to do anything it takes including the execution of endangered species to keep making it.”

Back to that $41 billion spent on pets. I say we outlaw pets and spend the money on animals that this planet actually needs. We need real protection of endangered species and threatened habitats (like rain forests, coral reefs and wetlands). I’m not sure how well armed the guards are that keep watch over the surviving Congo gorillas, but they’re going to need some serious firepower.
Remember, the Congo is a place where acceptable tools of warfare include torture (um, okay), rape (now that’s wrong) and cannibalism (okay, that’s just foul, foul, foul).

Here’s an idea: instead of deploying troops to Iraq, why don’t we send them in defense of endangered species and threatened habitats?

No comments:

Pound360 Archive

About Me

My photo
I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.