Tuesday 10 August 2021

Human destruction of animals versus cat destruction of animals

This is going to be short because I don't have a lot of reference material on it but I would like to remind people that when humans criticise the feral and to a lesser extent the domestic cat for the destruction of native animal species, they are forgetting that humans destroy far more through their activities.

Humans destroy animals through habitat destruction and on a much lesser scale through the destruction of prey animals which support native species. There are three ways that humans destroy habitat. For the sake of clarity, I'm referring to the habitat in which wild animals live and without which they cannot live. The three ways are (1) exploitation of resources and (2) pollution and (3) the introduction of exotic species. Habitat destruction by humans is considered to be the most important cause of species extinctions in many studies.

Habitat destruction includes deforestation primarily. Many wild cat species live in forests and depend upon the forests. Across the globe there is massive deforestation. The island of Borneo was pretty much covered in forests but thousands of square miles have been erased over the last 50 years. The Borneo Bay cat lives in this forest. An elusive cat which is highly endangered now because of deforestation. That is just one example.

Bornean Bay Cat. Photograph copyright Jim Sanderson, Ph.D – Please respect copyright.
Bornean Bay Cat. Photograph copyright Jim Sanderson, Ph.D – Please respect copyright.

Other ways that humans have destroyed habitat is through water quality deterioration, drainage of wetlands, mining, agricultural use of prairies, and fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides all change the environment of a variety of bird habitat which led to declines in populations. I don't have hard data but these environmental changes negatively impact birds far more than feral cat predation.

And the experts say that it is "crucial to view cat predation within the context of habitat destruction, since cats have not been shown to be the primary cause of the loss of native species on mainland continents (Mead 1982; Mitchell and Beck 1992). MR Slater says that "unfortunately, evidence regarding extinction is often anecdotal, circumstantial or historical."

I am quoting from MR Slater's section in the book The Welfare of Cats. This section deals with the extinction of native species. It is highly relevant today because global warming is putting pressure on nature and the animals that live within it. Global warming is due to human activity but humans in reaction to that knowledge are reluctant to curb activities which create global warming and instead they criticise the feral cat in Australia for decimating wildlife species.  Humankind is myopic in respect of endangering wild species. Humankind wants to deflect attention away from their anti-conservation behavior.

And MR Slater states something which I like to read, and I'll say it again; habitat destruction by humans is the most important cause of species extinctions. It was and it is and it will be the major cause of the extinction of species because the world relies on economic growth. In relying on growth, you have to rely on increased population size and inevitably economic growth leads to the destruction of habitat.

Until politicians and economists totally adjust their ideal model for society which as stated is economic growth there will be more wild animal extinctions.

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