The Decline of the Species by Trevor Plumbly
You don’t know what you’ve got…
Till it’s gone. But is whatever’s going, really that important? Lots of things die off in the course of natural order or our unwillingness to preserve them, and others just seem to clutter up the planet for no apparent reason. The fun starts when it comes to deciding what’s worth saving. One of New Zealand’s most endearing characters, Gareth Morgan, recently suggested that if we took a harsher line to cat ownership our native bird population would be a heck of a lot better off. I am inclined to agree with the man but cat lovers, I’ve discovered, tend to react angrily when the value of their pets gets questioned. I personally prefer birds, but the cat folk will undoubtedly argue companionship and rodent control are more important. The debate has cooled down a bit, but mindful of the frenzied clawing Mr. Morgan and his theory received I’ve decided that irate cat people are best left undisturbed.
The good, the bad, and…
The bloody useless. Elephants, I’ve decided whilst not part of our current diet should be kept on, along with whales. Having a few super creatures around serves to reminds us that we might be bright, but we’re not that impressive. Sadly I can’t add giant pandas to the list. Okay, when they’re small they’re cuddly and all that but when they grow up, they just seem to sit around all day chomping bamboo waiting for tourists. Handbags and shoes aren’t sufficient end products to justify reptiles of any size, let’s get rid of the bloody things along with rodents and all the creepy-crawlies. I may not have emerged from the halls of academe as a lad but I can sense that we’re in danger of running out of breathing space, so maybe it’s time to clean out the cupboards a bit.
Some countries simply bumble from one comedy to another. England, for instance, constructed small tunnels to provide the natterjack toad with safe road passage at a cost of thousands of pounds, while our Australian cousins continue to regard possums as worthy of protection, despite the damage they cause. Here in NZ we fare no better, few it seems, find it remotely idiotic that public funds and energy should be devoted to preserving the Canterbury knobbled weevil and the eyelash seaweed, both of which featured in a recent list of our 10 most endangered species.
Wasting money is a time-honoured governmental pursuit, but even the most self-absorbed politician or academic should realise that spending money on the conservation of fishing stocks as a food source makes a heck of a lot more sense than wet nursing obscure insects and minuscule marine growth. If I bump into the good Mr. Morgan I could run these ideas past him, over lunch of eyelash salad perhaps? There’s got to be some practical use for the bloody stuff.