Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Silent spring in Tokyo
Dear Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito,
In her groundbreaking work "Silent Spring," American writer Rachel Carson lamented a lack of birds and wildlife in her neighborhood one year. That spring, she thought it strange that no birds were singing or animals chattering. Later, Carson discovered that the wildlife had disappeared following a massive pesticide-spraying campaign. The silence prompted her to write one of the most important books of the 20th century.
This spring, my first in Japan, it is a similar story.
I live in a Tokyo suburb, about an hour by train from midtown. Although plants and flowers are plentiful here and there are a few birds, there are no animals of any kind. No squirrels or chipmunks, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, foxes or deer. It's an eerie scene. Walk outside in the morning and you hear few sounds of living beings other than those of cars, planes and other human activities. Where are the sounds of nature?
Growing up in Canada, I have been spoiled by the abundance of wildlife. At our old home near Toronto, my son and I would look out the back door and see chipmunks haggling over pinecones. We would chase rabbits into the forest and clean up garbage ransacked by raccoons. One year, an enterprising squirrel even set up a winter nest in our barbecue. Foxes, skunks and deer were also spotted in our area. My son loved it and it was a great educational experience.
However, here in the Tokyo area there is none of that. My son has seen no wild animals save the few behind cages or stone walls at the local zoo. The educational experiences have been lost.
In his book "Dogs and Demons," Alex Kerr argues that environmental degradation has been one of the byproducts of Japan's relentless postwar pursuit of economic growth. In the last half-century, Kerr suggests that the Japanese have dammed up most rivers, scarred many mountains and uprooted trees, all to make way for urban growth. In the course of this expansion, much of Japan's natural habitat has been lost.
Kerr points out that this lack of regard for nature contradicts the traditional world view of the Japanese. In most Western writing, the Japanese are portrayed as nature lovers, with a spiritual, almost mystical connection to their environment. Japan's indigenous Shinto religion even puts a reverence for nature at the core of its beliefs.
However, as Kerr points out, this Western view of Japan is a myth. Yes, the Japanese enjoy their cherry-blossom parties each year. But in reality, the Japanese see nature as something to conquer rather than preserve.
If Kerr is right, then that is a shame. The Japanese people that I know love nature and are concerned about environmental damage. They do their best to recycle and protect areas where they live. However, the average people here are not the problem. It is the massive construction and urban renewal projects that do the most damage.
Unfortunately, in my Tokyo suburb, a lack of natural activity is not peaceful. It's depressing. As more and more buildings go up, the sounds of nature are extinguished. And the silence of spring here is deafening.
Comment: Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not unique to Japan. The human population is displacing all other life forms and the beauty of nature. Still, we do nothing to stop it. What a sad world it has become.
1000 rare tortoises poached each week in Madagascar
September 30, 2010 wildmadagascar.org
endangered tortoises are being illegally collected each week in southern
Madagascar, reports WWF.
decline of these flagship species is alarming," said Tiana Ramahaleo, WWF’s
Conservation Planning and Species Program Coordinator in Madagascar, in a
statement. "If we don’t manage to halt tortoise poaching and habitat destruction
in the South, we might lose both tortoises in the wild in less than fifty
Tigers could be extinct within 12 years: WWF
October 23, 2010
STOCKHOLM (AFP) -- Tigers could become extinct within 12 years but a top level meeting in Russia next month could help reverse the decline, nature conservation body WWF said on Thursday.
scenario is that the tiger could be gone when the next year of the tiger comes
along, in 12 years,” said Ola Jennersten, head of the international nature
conservation program at WWF Sweden.
This is the Largest Model for Wildlife Conservation in the World
October 21, 2010 Brian Merchant www.treehugger.com
It's no secret that traditional conservation methods, while noble, have been failing miserably. Since the first forest and wildlife conservation programs were embraced internationally some 40-50 years ago, half of the world's forests have been razed, and biodiversity has plummeted around the globe, to the point where many scientists are already terming this era that of the 6th great extinction. Alan Rabinowitz, CEO of Panthera and one of the world's foremost conservationists, is keenly aware of this. Which is why his talk at Poptech 2010 was all about throwing out traditional methods and installing the largest working model for wildlife conservation in the world: A massive system of interlinked corridors for wildlife to coexist with human populations.
Rabinowitz's talk focused on the decades of failures that he's experienced over the years through his work with wildlife conservation. You may remember Rabinowitz from recent news of his work in creating the world's largest tiger preserve in Burma. He noted how a lifelong commitment to big cats led him to launch some of the world's biggest wildlife preserves -- but it wasn't nearly good enough. As he was receiving accolades from the press and conservation community, big cats and biodiversity were worse off than ever.
The biggest problem, Rabinowitz says, is with the traditional conservation model -- seeking big (and not so big) tracts of land to cordon off and keep wildlife protected in reserves and preserves. These just don't work on a scale anywhere near what's necessary. Large populations of wildlife live outside those preserves, obviously -- and tying a rope around an area, marking it a preserve, and ending the effort there isn't cutting it in the large scale.
Or, as Rabinowitz says, the reason conservation efforts are failing is that we're intent on creating these "bambi-like" nature preserves that aspire to our now arbitrary idea of natural perfection. This concept simply isn't realistic in the 21st century world -- people, and their impact, are everywhere. So, the solution that Rabinowitz proposes is something he calls a Corridor Initiative: a network of interconnected corridors that span entire regions, even continents. He's already undertaken making this initiative a reality in Central and South America, creating a system of jaguar corridor preserves (pictured above) that spans from Mexico to Argentina. It's the largest working model for wildlife conservation in the world.
The idea is to work with governments, local populations, and conservationists to create a habitat for animals like big cats to successfully coexist with burgeoning human populations. This model allows for wildlife preservation across a much wider swath of land than would otherwise be possible. It's certainly a good idea, though keeping industry and poaching in check throughout the network will pose a significant challenge.
Another such corridor effort is underway to protect tigers across India, China, and Southeast Asia. This innovative approach may very well be the future of conservation, if programs like the Jaguar Corridor Initiative prove successful.
March 31, 2014 New UN Climate Report: We’re All Doomed