third worlders probably think our obsession with saving dangerous megafauna absurd

megafauna-of-north-america

I like animals, (though I prefer them not in my house–most animals shed and don’t use the toilet.) I like small furry creatures and non-poisonous scaly ones and even squishy slimy ones, and I like the idea of living on a planet where creatures like moose and elephants and tigers exist.

But I recognize, as well, that most of the world’s endangered megafauna are endangered principally because their habitats conflict with human ones. Hungry people would rather eat an elephant than watch it trample their crops, a lion wandering around your village will really put a damper on play time, and the pygmies probably don’t appreciate getting kicked out of their homes to make room for a gorilla preserve.

Most of the American (and European) megafauna has already been killed (and those we still have seem not to terribly interest people, who’d rather see elephants in a zoo than a buffalo,) so as a practical matter, most megafaunal conservation efforts are aimed at animals located in other people’s countries.

Normally I try to stay out of other people’s business, but when other people are killing elephants or tigers or whales, obviously my desire that these animals exist conflicts with their desire that they not exist.

Now, I know many third worlders are quite fond of their local animals and don’t want to see them hunted, poached, or exploited out of existence. Much megafaunal death is not caused by locals competing for land/resources, but poachers and other outsiders who kill for trophies or body parts animals the locals are actually fond of or depend upon. Many small tribes are actively involved in environmental movements to try to protect their hunting grounds (and thus, food supply,) from activities like mining, logging, pollution, etc.

But I imagine that for someone who has to deal with elephants eating their crops or lions eating their livestock (or neighbors), the idea that a bunch of people in some far off country want more of these creatures around must seem pretty silly.

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