why "predatorhaven"? because predators get a bum rap, and many have been driven to extinction, or the brink of it. humans seem to see predators as either a threat, or as competition. what we fail to take into account is that predators are an indispensable part of nature's food web, keeping prey populations in check by culling out the weak, the sick, the aged, thus ensuring that the strongest and swiftest prey will survive to pass their genes on to future generations. remove predators -- mountain lion, wolf, raptor, snake, alligator, orca, shark, tiger -- and you may make life temporarily easier for a few hunters or ranchers or fishermen. but in the long run you've upset the balance that evolution has taken millenia to produce. the result? an impoverished ecosystem. the rampant spread of prey species, until they become pests requiring human management, when it was human MISmanagement that screwed things up in the first place.
humans in coal mines have crudely measured the air's toxicity by keeping canaries in the mineshaft where they work. the canary dies, woops, time to decamp. similarly the health of an ecosystem (of which we are merely a part) can be measured by the health of its predator species. biodiversity isn't just an abstract word coined by some ecologist in pursuit of a research subject. it is a fundamental requirement for a vigorous, resilient and sustainable future for all of us. WE are part of the system, not the inherent masters of it. being possessed of consciousness and (presumably) a set of ethics, it is incumbent upon us to act as responsible stewards for all life forms. if we fail at this, the system will be absolutely unforgiving, as we are already starting to discover with the advent of global warming, global dimming, deglaciation, species extinctions, the disappearance of entire ecosystems. do we really want to go down in history as the species equivalent of planetary cancer?
when i think of how much wilderness and wildlife existed when i was a child in the 1950s, and compare that to what remains today, i grieve. what will be left for our children's children to marvel at? more to the point, nature's creatures deserve to be allowed to survive for their own sake, independent of any value judgments which we may arbitrarily impose. i learned this most vividly during my years in the sonoran desert in southern arizona. one doesn't just blunder through the landscape without first learning to understand and respect one's place there. you learn to carry water, you learn not to brush up against cholla cactus, you learn not to reach beneath a bush or rock ledge without checking for rattlesnakes first. and you absolutely yield the right of way to the natives. they were here first. we are their guests, and should behave accordingly. this holds true in the desert, the jungle, the african savannah, in a coral reef, in a southern swamp or a western mountain range. we are the guests.
alas, we have also become, by virtue of our large brains and technology and sheer numbers, the most voracious predator on the planet. but that is not our rightful role. rather than being a cancer upon the land, we must reduce our own population to a sustainable level (say, one tenth what it is today, worldwide), and, reduce our presence in what remains of wilderness areas, and actually expand those areas in order to support all nature's creatures, with special focus on the top of the food chain, nature's predators.
end of rant. for now. and how was your day?