In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle, No Thanks Tonight…

by John Hawkins | August 22, 2005 7:29 am

Maybe it’s just me, but I figure one of the great things about living in a modern, civilized country is that there aren’t a lot of animals roaming around that are capable of making a meal out of you. But apparently, there are people out there who see that as a bug, not a feature[1]:

“If a group of US researchers have their way, lions, cheetahs, elephants and camels could soon roam parts of North America, Nature magazine reports. The plan, which is called Pleistocene re-wilding, is intended to be a proactive approach to conservation.

The initiative would help endangered African animals while creating jobs, the Cornell University scientists say.

…During the Pleistocene era – between 1.8 million to about 10,000 years ago – North America was home to a myriad of mega fauna.

Gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators

Once, American cheetah (Acinonyx trumani) prowled the plains hunting pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) – an antelope-like animal found throughout the deserts of the American Southwest – and Camelops, an extinct camelid, browsed on arid land.

But man’s arrival on the continent – about 13,000 years ago, according to one prevalent theory – pushed many of these impressive creatures to extinction.

Their disappearance left glaring gaps in the complex web of interactions, upon which a healthy ecosystem depends. The pronghorn, for example, has lost its natural predator and only its startling speed – of up to about 60mph – hints at its now forgotten foe.

…”Obviously, gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators,” said lead author Josh Donlan, of Cornell University. “There are going to have to be some major attitude shifts. That includes realising predation is a natural role, and that people are going to have to take precautions.”

Gee, perhaps these geniuses from Cornell should consider the possibility that the reason these “impressive creatures” were slaughtered to extinction by man was because they were dangerous. Maybe, just maybe, they walked out in their backyard, saw a cheetah, and instead of having an “attitude shift,” they thought “Wow, that could eat the kids, maybe I should kill it,” and then they stabbed it to death with a spear.

I know, it just seems so primitive, so barbaric — I mean, how is it that people don’t understand that, “Predation is a natural role?” You’d think that as they were being swallowed, the last thought going through their heads would be “Wow, isn’t it great to be part of the natural circle of life?”

But, no, instead they just see a danger to their lives and their families and it’s just, “kill, kill, kill!” Typical humans, huh?

Hey, wait, I’ve got a great idea! We’ll take the lions, cheetahs, elephants, king cobras, & angry flesh eating devil-gorillas of the past and release hordes of them at Cornell University! You want to talk about kids who are excited to get to the classroom? Well, who wouldn’t be excited to get to a safe place after being chased across campus by a lion?

Plus, we could make a reality show out of the whole thing. I mean you want to talk about “Survivor?” Trust me, you haven’t seen anything like the Cornell version of Survivor. Think about it, Cornell! You can help the animals, motivate your students, and provide ceaseless hours of entertainment for the rest of the world. It’s a win/win/win situation!

Hat tip to Ann Althouse[2] for the story.

  1. bug, not a feature:
  2. Ann Althouse:

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