In the Wilderness

Bosch_-_Saint_John_the_Baptist_in_the_Desert_Jheronimus van Aken  (c. 1450 – 9 August 1516)


Species across land, rivers, and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats


The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis.

Creatures across land, rivers, and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London found.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors.
This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF.
He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

The number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% since 1970.
From forest elephants in central Africa, where poaching rates now exceed birth rates, to the Hoolock gibbon in Bangladesh and European snakes like the meadow and asp vipers, destruction of habitat has seen populations tumble.

Marine animal populations have also fallen by 40% overall, with turtles suffering in particular.
Hunting, the destruction of nesting grounds and getting drowned in fishing nets have seen turtle numbers fall by 80%.

A second index in the new Living Planet report calculates humanity’s “ecological footprint”, ie the scale at which it is using up natural resources.

Currently, the global population is cutting down trees faster than they regrow,
catching fish faster than the oceans can restock,
pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them,
and emitting more climate-warming carbon dioxide than oceans and forests can absorb.

The report concludes that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it.
But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels.

The fastest decline among the animal populations were found in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have plummeted by 75% since 1970.
“Rivers are the bottom of the system,” said Dave Tickner, WWF’s chief freshwater adviser. “Whatever happens on the land, it all ends up in the rivers.” For example, he said, tens of billions of tonnes of effluent are dumped in the Ganges in India every year.

As well as pollution, dams and the increasing abstraction of water damage freshwater systems. There are more than 45,000 major dams – 15m or higher – around the world.
“These slice rivers up into a thousand pieces,” Tickner said, preventing the healthy flow of water.
While population has risen fourfold in the last century, water use has gone up sevenfold. “We are living thirstier and thirstier lives,” he said.


http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/29/earth-lost-50-wildlife-in-40-years-wwf

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Study of a Dead Grey Partridge

barbari partridgeJacopo de’ Barbari (c. 1460/70 – before 1516)

 

Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity
George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)

 

The Life of Things

about 1438-42The Vision of Saint Eustace
Pisanello (c. 1395 – c. 1455)

 


When I Buy Pictures

or what is closer to the truth,
when I look at that of which I may regard myself as the imaginary possessor,
I fix upon what would give me pleasure in my average moments:
the satire upon curiousity in which no more is discernible
than the intensity of the mood;
or quite the opposite—the old thing, the medieval decorated hat-box,
in which there are hounds with waists diminishing like the waist of the hour-glass,
and deer and birds and seated people;
it may be no more than a square of parquetry; the literal biography perhaps,
in letters standing well apart upon a parchment-like expanse;
an artichoke in six varieties of blue; the snipe-legged hieroglyphic in three parts;
the silver fence protecting Adam’s grave, or Michael taking Adam by the wrist.
Too stern an intellectual emphasis upon this quality or that detracts from one’s enjoyment.
It must not wish to disarm anything; nor may the approved triumph easily be honored—
that which is great because something else is small.
It comes to this: of whatever sort it is,
it must be “lit with piercing glances into the life of things”;
it must acknowledge the spiritual forces which have made it.

 

Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972)
Quotation within poem from  The Poetry of the Old Testament by Alex R. Gordon (1872 – 1930)

 

Four Little Foxes

tree stump

Speak gently, Spring, and make no sudden sound;
For in my windy valley yesterday I found
New born foxes squirming on the ground —
     Speak gently.

Walk softly, March, forbear the bitter blow;
Her feet within a trap, her blood upon the snow,
The four little foxes saw their mother go–
    Walk softly.

Go lightly, Spring, oh give them no alarm;
When I covered them with boughs to shelter them from harm,
The thin blue foxes suckled at my arm —
     Go lightly.

Step softly, March, with your rampant hurricane;
Nuzzling one another and whimpering with pain,
The new little foxes are shivering in the rain —
    Step softly.

 

Lew Sarett (1888 – 1954)

Follower Of the Old King, detail

gozzoli cats

Benozzo Gozzoli, born Benozzo di Lese, (c. 1421 – 1497)

Study of a Stag

cranach-stagLucas Cranach the Elder (October 1472 – October 1553)

A Runnable Stag

When the pods went pop on the broom, green broom,
And apples began to be golden-skinn’d,
We harbour’d a stag in the Priory coomb,
And we feather’d his trail up-wind, up-wind,
We feather’d his trail up-wind-
A stag of warrant, a stag, a stag,
A runnable stag, a kingly crop,
Brow, bay and tray and three on top,
A stag, a runnable stag.Then the huntsman’s horn rang yap, yap yap,
And ‘Forwards’ we heard the harbourer shout;
But ’twas only a brocket that broke a gap
In the beechen underwood, driven out,
From the underwood antler’d out
By warrant and might of the stag, the stag,
The runnable stag, whose lordly mind
Was bent on sleep though beam’d and tined
He stood, arunnable stagSo we tufted the covert till afternoon
With Tinkerman’s Pup and Bell- of-the-North;
And hunters were sulky and hounds out of tune
Before we tufted the right stag forth,
Before we tufted him forth,
The stag of warrant, the wily stag,
The runnable stag with his kingly crop,
Brow, bay and tray and three on top,
The royal and runnable stag.

It was Bell-of-the-North and Tinkerman’s Pup
That stuck to the scent till the copse was drawn.
‘Tally ho! tally ho!’ and the hunt was up,
The tufters whipp’d and the pack laid on,
The resolute pack laid on,
And the stag of warrant away at last,
The runnable stag, the same, the same,
His hoofs on fire, his horns like flame,
A stag, a runnable stag.

‘Let your gelding be: if you check or chide
He stumbles at once and you’re out of the hunt
For three hundred gentlemen, able to ride,
On hunters accustom’d to bear the brunt,
Accustom’d to bear the brunt,
Are after the runnable stag, the stag,
The runnable stag with his kingly crop,
Brow, bay and tray and three on top,
The right, the runnable stag.

By perilous paths in coomb and dell,
The heather, the rocks, and the river-bed,
The pace grew hot, for the scent lay well,
And a runnable stag goes right ahead,
The quarry went right ahead–
Ahead, ahead, and fast and far;
His antler’d crest, his cloven hoof,
Brow, bay and tray and three aloof,
The stag, the runnable stag.

For a matter of twenty miles and more,
By the densest hedge and the highest wall,
Through herds of bullocks lie baffled the lore
Of harbourer, huntsman, hounds and all,
Of harbourer, hounds and all
The stag of warrant, the wily stag,
For twenty miles, and five and five,
He ran, and he never was caught alive,
This stag, this runnable stag.

When he turn’d at bay in the leafy gloom,
In the emerald gloom where the brook ran deep
He heard in the distance the rollers boom,
And he saw In a vision of peaceful sleep
In a wonderful vision of sleep,
A stag of warrant, a stag, a stag,
A runnable stag in a jewell’d bed,
Under the sheltering ocean dead,
A stag, a runnable stag.

So a fateful hope lit up his eye,
And he open’d his nostrils wide again,
And he toss’d his branching antlers high
As he headed the hunt down the Charlock glen,
As he raced down the echoing glen
For five miles more, the stag, the stag,
For twenty miles, and five and five,
Not to be caught now, dead or alive,
The stag, the runnable stag.

Three hundred gentleman, able to ride,
Three hundred horses as gallant and free,
Beheld him escape on the evening tide,
Far out till he sank in the Severn Sea,
Till he sank in the depths of the sea
The stag, the buoyant stag, the stag
That slept at last in a jewell’d bed
Under the sheltering ocean spread,
The stag, the runnable stag.

John Davidson  (April 1857 – March 1909)