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Friday, August 12, 2022

Columns

Killing animals is callous, shortsighted


With the year rounding out, plenty of organizations have found themselves grabbing for work however they can get it; The International Union of Conservation of Nature wishes it had less.

Last week, the IUCN announced that two species of Rhino in the world have become dangerously close to extinction. A third, the Western Black Rhino of Africa, was eliminated from its records entirely. A quarter of the Earth’s mammals are at risk of extinction, and a fair amount of them meet their ends at the hands of human interests.

Although it was a crucial part of our survival for thousands of years, humans no longer need to kill to survive — but we do anyway.

The habit has yet to yield disastrous results as far as our society is concerned, but extermination is extermination. Time will demonstrate that tampering with nature can only work for so long.

Our comfort level stems from desensitization. Despite what we like to think, our society doesn’t really acknowledge these animals as living, thinking, procreating entities like ourselves. It’s a dangerous mindset, because the willingness to kill depends largely on the subject’s role in an individual’s life.

In this regard, you could say that the dogs and cats of the world cashed in on life’s lottery early: Felines have been deemed sacred since ancient Egyptian times, while the former’s fate has even been sealed in quotations: “Man’s best friend.”

Certain animals enjoy a particular amount of fame in Western culture. Their role in entertainment doesn’t do much for them immediately, but the visibility assures their survival for decades to come. Only so many children would be prompted to kill a childhood friend or long-known caricature. The same can’t be said for whales, rhinoceroses and eagles.

Education is the only solution. It’s no use blaming future generations for detached demeanors when we don’t value these lives ourselves.

It may seem extreme that tax dollars should be invested so that children can differentiate between conscious beings and inanimate objects, but today’s youth are tomorrow’s elderly.

In the US this weekend, big game hunting season begins, assuring millions of killings. These are only from reported killings, which excludes grazes, misfires and unreported killings.

If we were discussing the amount of tabbies skewered, guinea pigs de-ribbed or Labradors strewn over the television, it would be an important issue; but our disassociation with elk, deer and turkey has simply become a way of life.

Reports of mounting extinctions are striking, but they shouldn’t be surprising. The repercussions probably won’t be felt in our lifetimes, but that’s no reason to disregard them.

We need to fight to ensure that the one-quarter of the Earth’s animals that are at risk of extinction are here for future generations.

It would be a shame for our children’s children to find creatures we identify on a first-name basis take the path of dinosaurs.

Bryan Washington is a sociology freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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