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Monday, September 29, 2014

Friendship and Coexistence

Bow and I recently saw two little videos that I think will add something positive to my discussion here about the relationship of other animals to man and of the interdependence of all living things to each other, including predators and their prey. While I did not make these films myself and do not know the background of the people who did, I think the videos speak for themselves. Bow liked watching them, and I hope that you enjoy them as well.

The first video I came across quite by accident in my Facebook feed. Since it involved a dolphin, and I had just  written about the dolphin movie, I was unusually open to watching it, despite the fact that I am often jaded when it comes to "cute animal videos." Bow found it quite engaging, too.

To watch the video click here

While I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the video, unless it is severely edited, the dolpin does not seem to be coerced or bribed in any way. Nobody is standing over it with a stick, nor is anybody giving it a fish for returning the ball. The little boy and the dolphin are just having fun. This is taking place, I assume, in Russia or some Russian speaking location, and the caption says "Просто играют друг с другом", "  or "just playing friend with friend."

Bow watched the video once, then asked to see it again, and for the third repetition, he figured out where he should press. Sometimes he got excited, but much of the time he sat still and watched, sometimes vocalizing his involvement, and sometimes sticking out his tongue at the boy and the dolphin, which is what he does when he likes someone.

Are dolphins wild animals? Can they be violent? Well, yes, to the same extent that we are also wild animals and can get violent when it serves our best interests. But this dolphin does not see this particular child as a threat, and he seems to enjoy playing with him. They are friends.

That is such a simple concept, that if there were no animal rights activists in the world, there would be no point in belaboring it. But there you have it. There's your answer to the wild animal propaganda.

The second film is somewhat more sobering, because it deals with predation, and how life comes from killing. Bow watched it only once, and he did find it enjoyable, but he did not ask to see it again. 

The video is called "How Wolves Change Rivers" and it is a very glossy, high production piece with a message. It may very well be propaganda of some sort. I am not sure who is putting it out or for what reason, but they use the word "sustainability" which sounds very politically correct.

However, the uptake, for anyone who thinks about it, is that predators make life better for everyone, including the prey. I have long believed that, and it's not that different from what my father wrote in his article about the greater good.

Greater than Ourselves by Amnon Katz

My experience with trying to share this article has been mixed. A lot of people of the altruistic persuasion respond favorably to some of the set phrases, such as "greater than the individual." But when I explained to them that this is an argument in favor of laissez faire, they got mad at me. One woman even blocked me on a social networking site. She thought my father's article was great, but that my take on it was not.

Vegetarianism does not pay, if everybody practices it. It is fine as a limited way of life, and I have nothing against those who choose it for themselves for personal reasons. But those who want everybody to be vegetarian, including wolves and cats, have no idea what they are wishing on the world. Herbivores need carnivores to keep themselves healthy and to make sure that their population is not too great and that they don't overgraze. Even soil erosion can be laid at the feet of rampant vegetarianism. The Middle East is now largely a desert because of the unchecked practice of agriculture, which started there and spread elsewhere more slowly.

Even in economic terms, there are reasons for the trophic pyramid, with few at the top and many at the bottom. Eliminate the one percent, and life becomes much harder for the other 99%. Did the makers of that little nature film realize what they were saying? I doubt it. But there it is.

Bow seems to understand. Do you?


  1. Apparently, they missed this comment in your Dad's paper: "classical mechanism of natural selection". HA!

  2. I agree with the inter-dependencies we have with each other and nature. I happen to know some of the background on the wolves video - its purpose was to point out all the positives of returning the wolves to Yellowstone & other areas, because of all the negativity they are receiving from the area cattle ranchers.
    Amazingly, there are people who love the wolves, but don't seem to understand that they need to hunt in order to survive. The wolves were re-introduced, I think around 1995 or so and now that they are thriving once again, people are complaining because they're killing cows / calves at the local ranches around the parks, so their supporters / parks are making these videos to show how their return is actually helping in many different ways.
    To the topic, wolves are native, natural predators - as in, of this country where there is a natural rhythm, and expected amount of predation. With cats, and other introduced species from other countries, they are non-native and will create an imbalance, because of their "un-native" predatory practices in this country. The cat for instance, is not native here and is a predator that hunts for pleasure / instinct and sometimes food. As a non-native, it is able to out-hunt many of our native predators and will 'steal' the food that they (native predators) would normally eat.
    Otherwise, I let the predator / prey scenarios play out in my area. Coyotes eat moles, voles, etc. and when they can catch them (as a pack), they eat the cats too. I love the native predators - and, while hosting purple martins, I have learned a lot about natural selection too.
    Purple martins will toss the weakest nestlings out of the nest. At first, my heart drove me to try to save those I found on the ground, but after finding those same ones dead in the nest after the parents and strongest nestlings had fledged, I realized what a fruitless effort it was. Every bird leaving their nest must be strong enough to fly, feed & drink on the wing, and make it back to Brazil or they will not live. It doesn't get more raw nature than that. If one falls by the wayside, they do not stop & mourn or beg it to get up & fly. They carry on - their species depends on the strongest surviving. It's tough on the heart, but that's how it works. We could learn a lot from nature.

    1. Hi, Kathy. Thanks for explaining the background for the video about the wolves. They are beautiful creatures, and it is good to know about their place in the scheme of things.

      I am still struggling with the issue of the predatory cat on my property. I don't want to turn it in to the authorities and do not want to adopt it., I recognize that it is causing some damage to native populations, but so far it's a very small amount. If it starts reproducing, I will have to do something about it. This is just one of those uncomfortable situations where anything I do could end up badly.

      Beyond the native versus non-native distinction, though, I think we just need to understand that death and predators are a natural part of life, and any ideology that does not take that into account will not work in the long run. This is both an ecological and an economic truth.

  3. I completely understand your struggle with the cat. I had the same struggle here too - we were being overrun with them as our neighbor was just letting them all breed at will, multiplying exponentially because the more kittens he had, the less he could give away. I finally had to make a decision and stick to it after numerous trips to my neighbor's house and the realization that he wouldn't do anything about it. It is not an easy decision to make. It greatly angers me when people put me in this position - they don't care for their pets and it puts ME in a position of having to make a decision that causes me great distress, as I have to end up making a choice based on my principles & beliefs. It goes back to my libertarian beliefs that everyone should be allowed to do what they want, as long as what they do does not interfere with another's freedom.
    Back to your point though - it is all a carefully woven design that there must be predators and there must be prey. I can understand the ranchers' angst with the wolves, especially from the economic point of view (and from a beef-lover's point of view too).
    I read a story a few days ago about the Yellowstone park needing to cull the bison herd by 900 animals. I have to wonder why the wolves aren't preying more on the bison, instead of the cattle. Maybe they're not as easy a target as the cattle? Anyway, it's just another interesting piece of trivia in this prey vs. predator topic.
    I don't even try to stop the mice / voles / moles around my property*** - as destructive as they can get, because I know the owls, coyotes, etc. will take care of them.
    **unless they're in the garage / shop - then I snap-trap them and toss them out for the predators - "free lunch!". :-)