Most people seem to have a favourite and least favourite animal. Our favourite animals are usually linked to cute and. For example a lot of people seem to say stuff like the domestic cat, tigers, polar bears and elephants when asked their favourite. All relatively cute creatures, even the carnivorous killing machines of the polar bear and tiger are well-loved. This bodes well for conservation bodies such as WWF, who can use their cute looks to harvest support and donations. A surprising turn up when I asked people their favourite creature was the Rosy-Lipped Batfish the reason given was “[it] looks like it’s plotting to take over the world”. Although if we’re talking interesting looking fish then the winner is quite clearly the Pacific Barreleye fish, which has been liken to a Superman villain.
If people’s favourite animal is generally something cute, fluffy and interesting then people’s least favourite animal is surely the opposite – ugly, scaly and uninteresting or pointless. Whereas it’s difficult to comment on if an animal is ugly, you can comment on the uninteresting or pointless side to animals. When summer rolls around I soon get fed up of all the “Wooo summer is here sun bathing and barbeques every weekend” type of people who love summer yet hate the fantastic increased invertebrate activity that comes with it, worst of all is the assumption that wasps are evil and pointless! Just because of a few panicky people at a picnic, should we really hate this amazing insect? Its main advantage is how they chew dead wood to build their wonderful nests, a real grand design! I was surprised when out one day to hear a very loud chewing sound, you would have put it down to being a mouse it was that loud, when I looked down I discovered a lone wasp chewing on some dead wood. Brilliant! Of course the best thing about wasps for a great fan of birds like myself is that their larvae provides food for the honey buzzard and with climate change how long could it be before we regularly see honey buzzards feeding on the UK wasp population. Surely that sight is worth a bit of buzzing around a half drunk can of cola isn’t it?
A large amount of disliked animals are linked to what we’re told to consider ‘vermin’ or ‘a pest’ such as mice, rats, various invertebrates and feral pigeons. However on this topic, I’m much in agreement with naturalist Chris Packham when he wrote “Here are some animals which our activities have directly and obviously encouraged through our and their domestication. Now that they all have the capacity to become a nuisance in some way, we must recognise that we’ve made these monsters” This leads me to my second least favourite animal and one that should be stripped of it’s tag as a cute wonderful pet and replaced with what it really is – vermin. The pointless domestic cat is in my opinion closer to the status of vermin than any of the previous mentioned creatures. They are an unnatural super-predator. Although keeping cats inside on a night reduces their killing capacity by 80 per cent.
Do you know what the rarest mammal in the UK is? Otter perhaps? What about the Dormouse? It’s actually the black rat! The foreign invader that brought in the bubonic plague is very rare. Yet because it’s not cute and cuddly, doesn’t do anything interesting and was accidentally partly responsibly for the death of many people a few hundred years ago means the likelihood of seeing a collection box trying to save this creature is very slim. The truth is not many people like rats even Sir David Attenborough the man who most of us think of when we think of animals and nature documentaries has made no secret of the fact he dislikes rats. Even to go as far as to say they are the ultimate horrible thing. No wonder he was delighted to have a rat eating plant named after him then!
I also got told by someone their least favourite animal is Winnie the Pooh, whatever a pooh may be….
As for my least favourite creature, well that’s simple it has to be the most destructive and lethal creature living. One that is very invasive and its breeding is very much out of control. That’s right; Homo sapiens. Humans really are a vile bunch; our destructive ways have destroyed land and ocean.
“… humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.”
– Tony Banks (1942 – 2006) Labour MP
Over hunting and over fishing species into extinction and introducing invasive foreign species that destroy ecosystems. People just ain’t no good. This week on Channel 4, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s series of programmes for the Big Fish Fight highlighted what destruction we’re doing to our oceans, just for the sake of a bit of Cod and chips. The WWF earlier this month published its list of top ten endangered animals, among the list is the leatherback Turtle, an animal that has survived millions years but is now at risk thanks to the human race. The human population is growing out of control for we are living longer as well as breeding too much. This is not an environmentally sustainable population. I share the same opinion of The Optimum Population Trust that people should stop breeding after they’ve reproduced twice.
I have a daughter and I hope that her children and grandchildren are able to grow up knowing that animals like Tigers and Polar Bears exist in the wild and don’t just know them as extinct animals that have been sent to the history books.
www.franticplanet.com – Nothing to do with nature, just an excellent writer who suggested the rosy-lipped batfish
http://www.optimumpopulation.org/ – Optimum Population Trust’s Website
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/6927330/Top-10-most-endangered-species-in-the-world.html – WWF’s Top Ten Endangered list
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chris-Packhams-Wild-Side-Town/dp/184537696X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1295122901&sr=1-1 – The Chris Packham book I took a quote from. Really good book, interesting views, well written in an accessibly way for young children and adults. Few terrible jokes here and there.