Watching a television programme recently has brought to mind a subject that I have strong feelings about, species of animals that have become endangered through greed, trophy hunting and loss of habitat. The programme itself is just a detective story about killings by a so-called ‘beast’ and within the story were many comments about the ‘Beast of Bodmin Moor.’ Bodmin Moor is a desolate moorland area on the outskirts of Cornwall in the U.K., and there have been many stories about a large cat-like creature that roams and kills livestock. The theory is that when new laws came into practice regarding the keeping, and care of wild animals, some of the large cat family either escaped, or were set free, in that area. Being curious I looked up the ‘Beast of Bodmin’ and found that although there had been several sightings, there was no concrete evidence that it existed. A large cat-like skull was found but was suspected to have come from the head of an animal killed for its fur, and used as a rug. What an indictment for a so-called civilised society, a beautiful creature is killed to put on the floor.
Where the larger predatory animals come into contact with livestock, or have deliberately threatened human life, there has to be some form of control, that is obvious. Maybe those that wish to farm livestock need to be sure that they are some distance away from areas known to contain predatory animals, such as the wolves that have been re-introduced in Yellowstone Park. What is questionable in the 21st century is the need to kill and mutilate animals so that wealthier people can wear their fur, treat them as ornaments, or make strange medicines from their parts. Many of the endangered species are very beautiful, especially those from the cat families but in future generations they will only be seen in zoos.Loss of habitat is again a very emotive subject, people have needs and poorer societies have the right to want a more affluent lifestyle. Through television and the internet people are much more aware of the manner in which their lifestyles are procured, and I personally hope that it will bring about a better way of sharing. We cannot just assume that because we want a certain product in the U.K. acres of rainforest are destroyed with all the life they support; there has to be more efficient production methods. The Hyacinth Macaw is a good example of this, an incredibly beautiful blue member of the parrot family, most of its habitat has gone and there are apparently only about 400 birds left in the wild.I personally had a pet shop for a few years and at one point was offered two African Grey parrots, these birds were brought in, in cages, and were completely wild and traumatised. When the seller was questioned it seemed that they had come from Thailand, so it was obvious that they were illegal and had been caught from the wild. Whilst African Greys are not endangered it was an example of the trade in wild animals, and to the lengths that some will go as they cannot possibly have come through legal means. The seller wanted a lot of money for these birds and became very aggressive, fortunately we had members of the police force listening in, who then showed themselves causing the seller to run away.
There will be some species of animal that will die out through perfectly natural causes but the majority that are endangered, are so, because human greed has caused it. The effects of taking certain types of animal out of the eco-system means that there is imbalance, and sooner or later it will have a down side either because land is not grazed in a balanced way, or that other animal populations grow too much. Our children and grandchildren will see pictures of these animals and will ask what has happened to them, they may not thank us for depriving them of that natural beauty.In recent years the type of artwork that I do has changed considerably, I find myself inspired to paint pictures of animals that are nearing extinction; and with the paintings come words to use as meditations or affirmations that can benefit the recipient, and also raise their awareness of the need to care for everything in our planet.