Moth dearth, cat-on-cat violence, poached oxen, and other oddities
I photographed this moth in Costa Rica. It was about four inches across and looked like a pair of flying lips. A study has found that the number of moths in Britain has declined by about 30% in the last thirty years. That’s a 10% decline per decade. Sixty-two species have already gone extinct on the island in the 20th century. Extrapolating into the future, you could expect the last moth to drop dead in about seventy years, assuming the decline remains linear.
A Florida Panther (radio collared of course) was recently tranquilized for eating, among other things, a house cat. The biologists seemed to know everything about this cougar — how many cubs he has sired, his age. He even has a name and a number. I have to wonder how many times in its eleven-year life it has been shot with tranquilizer darts and radio collared. He must feel like a pin cushion. Rapid housing development continues to destroy habitat. There are only 80 Florida panthers left on the planet.
Two species of endangered wild oxen are being poached out of a wildlife preserve in Vietnam — for profit of course. Hungry people don’t hike into remote forests with high-powered rifles. They would sell the rifles for five hundred pounds of rice.
Some anthropologists have been studying ancient garbage dumps in California. By counting the bones of animals they were able to deduce that Native Americans had decimated wildlife there. It is strongly suspected that the introduction of European diseases killed upwards of 90 percent of all people living in North America before the first settlers arrived. By the 1800s, wildlife had rebounded and geese and ducks were “so abundant you could kill them with a club or stick.” How ironic that Avian flu now threatens us in a similar manner.