Polar bears, lions, endings

A little while earlier, I was reading the newspaper and saw a photo of a polar bear that had been tranquilized. My first instinct when I saw the polar bear lying on the ice was that the bear was dead but I was relieved to know that it was not.

However, I read a little bit of the accompanying article and in that it said that in Norway, because more people are visiting and because of the thinning ice, more people are coming into “contact” with polar bears and polar bears are being killed. I couldn’t read more. Our actions are causing the polar bears’ habitat to shrink and we’re killing them because they “threaten” us. I couldn’t read further.

Then, I read another piece about how lions bred in captivity are sometimes being used for trophy hunting.

A new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) says, in the decade between 2004 and 2014, 1.7 million animals were killed for their ‘trophy’. At least 2,00,000 of them were threatened species such as elephants, rhinos or lions. IFAW found that the US was the biggest importer of stuffed animal heads, while South Africa was the biggest exporter — and lions were by far the most traded.

I get the whole hunting for meat thing, but what is trophy hunting if not entertainment or thrill-seeking? How do we reconcile killing defenseless animals just for a photograph or for their heads? And, it’s not just land-based animals; trophy fishing is a “sport”.

Are we so bored out of our wits that killing is now something to be done for entertainment? How much more extreme does it have to get before we say enough? I think it won’t ever be enough because we’re a species that wants to dominate at all costs. All species do but we have the ability to reason but we use that reasoning to rationalize the choices we make. Also, if we can, throughout our history, commit genocide at fairly regular intervals, why would we discriminate against animals?

Maybe I’m wrong and it’s not entertainment; maybe it is power and the pursuit and application of it that we are after. Perverse power but power nonetheless. I’m simplifying a complex argument; there are other reasons I’m sure, but maybe the impotent anger and sadness that I feel blind me to other reasons.

Paul Kingsnorth wrote these great lines in one of his essays.

The nature of this Earth is change. The nature of this Earth is endings. The nature of this earth is extinction.

The one that sticks in my mind every time I think about what we’ve done to the natural world is, “The nature of this Earth is endings.”

And, we are in one–except this one is one that we created.

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