Have you ever driven down a road and noticed animal bodies, flattened and lifeless, on the tarmac? Of course you have. Roadkill is so common in the modern, ‘developed’ world (that term is quite ironic), that there are those who have turned road-flattened animals into a culinary ingredient. Most of us have passed an otherwise still beautiful and intact, yet lifeless fox on an early morning drive, or the almost unrecognisable squashed remains of a hedgehog (a much rarer sight these days; ironically, hogs have been roadkilled to endangered status in the UK).
Ever wondered how animals see roads? I imagine they must find them terrifying and yet, as all other animals function within a natural system of exist to survive, and survive to exist, it is often an absolute necessity for them to cross these seemingly endless rivers of death, to reach new sources of food. These strangely unnatural and inconvenient barriers to survival for animals are everywhere. Is it any wonder our wildlife populations in the UK are so in decline? We are a small island. With so many roads covering almost every section of the UK, almost nowhere is safe for wildlife to avoid these obstacles of doom.
Imagine an animal – a deer, grouse, shrew, fox, otter, toad, or any other British animal you like – coming to a road, and wondering what this thing is, with its oddly smooth, black, featureless surface. A low-pitched noise, a huge, fast-moving, groaning object comes hurtling towards the animal, which is startled and terrified in equal measure. It panics. It knows it must cross, and its instinct has kicked in to tell it that this is the way to go. Fresh grass smells, berries, ancient, genetic memory of food sources and breeding grounds urge the animal forward, and yet this black river must be crossed to reach it. A mother duck leads her ducklings onto the road to reach an ancient pond in fields beyond. In front of her stretches a black, deadly, barren river she must cross with her brood. Keep them safe. Reach food and water. Cars, motors roaring, charge ahead, with drivers oblivious to the life-and-death scenario playing out in front of them. It happens every single day, all over the country, and all over the world. And we keep building more cars and more roads.
Cars and roads are so horrifyingly destructive. What a shitty world we have created for our fellow animals to try to exist and survive within. It’s not as if the basic task of surviving isn’t tough enough in the natural world, without us adding these culling fields of endless black tarmac. What’s the solution? We had better find one; we surely cannot continue to charge around the country in these hulking, destructive monsters, arrogantly tearing through wildlife populations (and all of that green space, lost to ‘development’) at an alarming rate. Push bikes? Trains? Hover cars?!
It is yet another aspect of human behaviour and supposed advancement which highlights how incompatible we are with the rest of the natural world.
European and American Salamander populations are at risk due to a fungal infection spreading as a result of Asian Salamander species brought in as pets by the exotic pet industry. Asian Salamanders carry the fungus, but are largely able to fight it off. European and American species are not resistant. I think the solution is clear. Stop importation of Asian Salamanders and control released populations. Another argument against keeping anything and everything as pets.
I had an unexpected visitor to my house today. He was tall, and handsome, and wore a beautiful coat of browns and reds. Very autumnal; very dashing. Turns out he was a bug… A Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis), to be precise.
Here’s a pic of him. Attractive, isn’t he? Don’t think I’d ever seen one of him before. I released him into the garden, although he didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to leave me or the house. I’m guessing he came from the conifers in next-door’s garden.
Rapidly losing the desire to go visit and explore Norway… Sort yourselves out, Norway.