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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Natural World

Book 82 and 83 saw me turn to the Natural World, a subject dear to my heart. I read Do We Need Pandas?: The Uncomfortable Truth About Biodiversity by Ken Thompson, which argues that trying to rescue individual species is futile and instead we should concentrate on habitat which would minimise the species lost and be most cost-efficient. The rhetorical question of the title is really an extreme example to hammer home the point. The fact is though that fund-raising is probably more effective for large mammals like the panda, the general public are far less interested I suspect in saving insects and plants than they are more recognisable species like the panda. Our zoos are predominately full of large mammals and reptiles.

I followed that up with Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record by Errol Fuller which looks at the animals which the planet has sadly already lost. Most of them were lost in the early years of the 20th century, and nearly all the featured animals had some sort of photograph. The vast majority of animals in the book were birds, reflecting the author's interests I suspect rather than the most common types of species which have been made extinct. Ironically, given the first book, every species featured was a large photogenic animals, not small frogs, inspects or other "boring" animals to be seen.

So much as I agree with the point about habitat, the general public are not scientists and they want to save the most iconic species.

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