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The Deadly Web

The Deadly Web

December 2007: I cannot think of a single life form on Earth that has a net negative impact on the health of the planet; can you? One way or another, every single living thing acts as a maintenance engineer to keep the engine of life ticking. Creatures that exceed their brief and destabilise the planet die at the altar of their own impudence.


Special Mention: Sanctuary-Abn Amro Wildlife Photography Awards 2007 – Himanshu Rathore 


If carnivores consume prey faster than the recruitment rate, they die; if deer overgraze pastures faster than the regeneration capacity, they die. But it rarely comes to this because animals tend to move to “greener pastures” long before food stocks vanish.


The giant wood spider Nephila maculata that wove this deadly web in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, and the warbler Phylloscopus sp. mortally ensnared in it are part of Earth’s intricate life-support system, which does not brook any waste.


Death fuels life. Even the bacteria, viruses, mosquitoes, cockroaches and rats that most humans hate with pathological venom are part of nature’s wonderful web. If humans ever win the war against ‘pests,’ we can be sure death will be staring us in the face because the balance of life would topple and crush us. This is just one of the many truths that Rachel Carson tried to pass on to us in Silent Spring, one of four books she wrote before she died.


Here is another home truth, a decidedly inconvenient one; Homo sapiens is a pathologically dangerous animal. This is why the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 went to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), headed by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri and to Al Gore, presenter of An Inconvenient Truth.


Peace Prize? Why a peace prize to environmentalists? Why not to someone trying to stop the war in Iraq, or to bring Pakistan and India together? Could it be because the mother of all inconvenient truths is the fact that the ‘development’ being foisted on us in the guise of progress is nothing but violence, which could rain more death on humans than all the wars ever fought on Earth? contingent beneficiary


In an era of climate change, this is no longer a rhetorical question. It’s an accusation. Spiders weave webs, but exhibit no malice. We can hardly say the same for those who think nothing of ensnaring us in their deadly webs of developmental deceit. And when the tribunals are held for environmental crimes against humanity in the near future, I predict these will dwarf the tribunals held in Nuremberg, post the Second World War.


Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXVII No. 6, December 2007


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