Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Unlikely Partners

John Muir said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." That quote is supposed to put us in our place. We're not super special as the upright ape that's sapient. We're in the tree of life. 

I've always found that quote twee. Like, hey John Muir, titan of conservation, after whom the Muir Woods of giant sequoias in California is named, everybody knows that you can erroneously link anything to anything else by Google-searching it.

But, I was researching the dangerous trade in venomous sea snakes. In my slithering I found an article in Conservation magazine: Unlikely partners: rhino poaching & sea snake exploitation

"One popular remedy for snakebites? Rhino horn, either applied directly to the bite, or ground into a paste and swallowed. Thus, there is a direct, heartbreaking link between the pointless brutal slaughter of African rhinos for their horns, and the unsustainable harvest of sea snakes in the Gulf of Thailand."

I've experienced enough of pain to know I would grind into a paste and swallow rhino horn if I though it would help.  I would bleed the yellow-bellied sea snake.

I've only ever seen a rhino from far away, at the zoo, and felt no great affinity. I smashed a snake with a shovel once. It got into my grandparents' farm house. I thought it was poisonous but it turned out later, upon closer, no-longer-hysterial inspection, to be a harmless black rat snake. So many things are.

So what? I could think, about the sea snakes and the rhinos, locked in a cycle with us.  So what, we ate all the remaining dodos?  The last remaining passenger pigeon is taxidermied and on display at Harvard's Museum of Natural History. I visit it every year. I like to visit it. I look into its eye.

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