A fascinating article in the NYT on elephants in Africa makes clear that the treatment of elephants has serious consequences for how they behave toward humans and greatly complicates conservation measures. Advanced mammals such as these share too many social and emotional traits with us for us to believe that their survival is merely a matter of biology, habitat, and the physical sciences. An environmentalism that ignores issues of animal welfare is not only profoundly myopic, but is bound to fail at even its core mission of conservation.
UPDATE: I’m not sure what the occasion is, but there’s another article in the NYT today about animal intelligence that is definitely worth a read.
We are entering an age in which we are going to be confronted with the fact that many of the traits we thought were unique to us are not, and this will force us to reevaluate our attitude towards animals in very profound ways.