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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Natural Enemies--People And Nature

The above photo is from Rhett Butler's (of Mongabay) latest trip to Bali. It inspired me to do a post. Beetle collecting was all the rage back in Darwin's day. Photos from today's high-quality, affordable, digital cameras, which allow anyone to snap cool pictures and video of wildlife, may be just the thing to end the collection of actual specimens to show off and to aid other conservation efforts, like saving the endangered stag beetle in Britain.

The above video of a hummingbird nest on a porch swing chain was taken by my neighbors. At first we all thought it was a dumb place to build a nest but after these hummingbird parents successfully raised two fledglings, we realized it was the ideal nest site. Crows had no place to land, and I've never seen a raccoon, possum, or cat climb a chain.

See my other video of two bald eagles eating a red tailed hawk in a tree in my other neighbor's yard.

It's an honor to host a hummingbird nest. Not so much a yellow jacket nest, which these same neighbors also have on their property. We humans tend to be very selective about the nature we will tolerate.

At a barbecue the other day one of my neighbors pointed to the woodpecker hole in the side of his house. My other neighbor has wrapped his blueberry bushes in netting to keep the robins at bay, his wife, Joy just emailed me this photo she took not long ago of a heron eyeballing that neighbor's goldfish pond:

Another neighbor has live-trapped seventeen squirrels out of her backyard bird sanctuary the last time I checked. I keep chasing raccoons out of my gold fish pond, and the starlings ate 95% of our cherries this year.

Moving to the country is not the wisest thing for a concerned environmentalist to do because that just takes the fight to nature. We can't help but to control our surroundings. We evolved to do so. We should live in cities, leave the rest of nature alone.

We have never lived in harmony with nature. We consume it. An Amazonian tribe will set up shop in an area until game becomes scarce and then will move on. The population density is low enough that they can find a spot not already controlled by a another vicious group of hominids.

Not so much in Papua New Guinea where population densities are much higher. In the television series called The Lost Tribes with Mark Anstice and Olly Steeds, they commented several times on the almost total lack of wildlife in the jungles around villages. That's because the villagers ate or just killed anything that moved, insects, birds, lizards, you name it.

Ah, the extremes people will go to for a little notoriety. In this case, running around in a mosquito infested jungle wearing nothing but an obligatory penis gourd.

[Update 8/4/2010] Rhett is "making my way back from a very rough trip in West Papua" and sent this photo via email of a weevil he just saw near near Manokwari:

What evolutionary pressures would create such a colorful insect? Biodiversity is amazing.

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