Coming back from Cape Cod the last part of my journey was driving through the Heart of England. This is the landscape of trees, hedges and meadows that I love. It is made by Man and his domestic animals. A major contribution to its beauty and fruitfulness is a complete absence of elephants, gnu, buffalo and other naturally breeding and roaming ungulates.
An absence of wolves, bears, tigers and crocodiles does materially improve certain aspects of daily life. Ditto for cobras.
Of course there is no room in my garden for such fauna and the crankiest of conservationist, repopulatory enthusiasts would possibly agree. Other people in other places must preserve such creatures. Absolutely.
Not of course in the meticulously, miraculously tended terraced hill valleys of fertile Asia or the carefully irrigated zones or those parts of Africa where Man is allowed to create agricultural Eden.
Now, do not misunderstand me.
If I saw the last Dodo egg rolling toward the edge of the table I would (I am sure) make the wild, despairing grab to catch it.
I certainly would not want to spend much time with the person who fell about laughing hysterically at the terminal omelette on the floor.
I have been whale watching! Last week! So there. I care. I would be desolate to imagine the last whale tootling mournfully in the deep and getting no answer.
But this I know. We are in the Endgame. Selective sadness is emotional self-massage.
We have rehearsed the endgame many times as we lurched through the ages from food crisis to food crisis with the lethal leapfrogging of population growth over agricultural techniques.
The last chaos is offered in the form of desperate migrations from famine zones into fertile enclaves.
It will avail the conservationist little to huddle round the newt ponds as that catastrophe unfolds.
If we organise the agronomy, the slow retreat and defeat of our species and its civilisation can be delayed
If the retreat becomes a early rout the fauna we might seek to preserve may suffer even greater damage.
Robin E Walker B.Vet.Med. M.R.C.V.S.