The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
About eighteen months ago when walking in our neighbourhood we rounded a corner and came face to face with a giraffe.
Well, okay not quite face to face. But there it was all tall and leggy. In the middle of a plein in The Netherlands.
It didn’t belong there. Around it there were fenced areas and other wild species of various kinds; none of which in an appropriate place.
It was very disturbing to find this circus lot in our back yard. The performances that week went without our attendance.
It was a very sad moment.
In 2012 we were lucky enough to turn a corner on an African Savannah in a tiny jeep and come face to face with another towering giraffe accompanied by her brothers and sisters and several tiny calves.
A totally different location and totally different emotions.
So to the point of this post.
Another weird juxtaposition. Two Facebook stories that caught my eye today.
One accounting that there is about to be a law passed in The Netherlands to outlaw the use of wild animals in circuses.
So that tackles the first story I tell with optimism and hope.
The other, a tale from The Times that’s rather more bleak.
The news this time is bad. The suggestion is that the giraffe is in real trouble.
That tall crazy, shaped creature that is so hard to understand the design of. Whose heart can only work with a long neck and head far off the ground. A change to the position can lead to dangerous changes in blood pressure.
The giraffe has always represented evolution to me. Tall enough to reach the trees it eats, a crazy, long, tough tongue to tackle the thorns and rough leaves, long legs for covering distances.
But it lacks the right media profile to attract attention and salvation. There’s only one full time giraffe conservationist.
According to the article there are 350,000 African elephants remaining, compared to 80,000 giraffes.
They’re not sexy enough.
It’s suggested that they may become quietly extinct. The public hasn’t noticed they’re in trouble!
Look it up ‘giraffe- silent extinction’. It didn’t make the real news, yet can anyone explain what we’d do without giraffes?
It was all about the unique features of this amazing wild animal.
80, 000 is the same number as the human population of UK town High Wycombe. It’s also the same as the many towns on this long list
80, 000 yet they are still hunted and shown in trophy photos. Stupid people proving they have a lot of money posing in front of their carcasses.
They are still featured in circuses.
They are still on the menu at 30p a pound.
As recently as 2009, UK chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall apparently thought it was okay to eat giraffe meat too. It wasn’t endangered then!
In South African, similarly to the UK horse scandal, in some instances giraffe has been unwittingly discovered in meat products too. Yet restaurants like Carnivore in Nairobi have giraffe on their menu alongside other animals that are probably not endangered yet.
The expression fair game has a whole new resonance to me now.
This article links the giraffe population decline to a couple more things. Firstly human population increases which lead to reduction in giraffe habitats and secondly the suggestion that eating giraffe meat is a cure for HIV.
Words fail me.
Is this another case of last chance to see ?
Jelly fish are still very plentiful if you’re still feeling peckish.
Vegetarian option anyone?
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...