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Friday, February 12, 2010

Why Lions and Tigers are becoming extinct.

It is 2010 the "Year of the tiger" according to the Chinese Zodiac and tigers are dissapearing faster than ever, with fewer wild tigers now than at any time in the past. Why?
Basically because they reached the top of the food chain and it was an evolutionary dead end for them. Large apex predators are rare. We humans like to think of ourselves as outside of nature, yet we eat, shit, and reproduce just like everything else. We, are omnivores and have become the new supremely successful apex predators as well as the most successful herbivores. So its just a matter of us out competing Lions and tigers for limited resources.

Its not that humans are simply competing predators after the same large herbivores lions and tigers are after. That is true in the last remaining patches of tiger habitat where bush meat hunters directly tigers for food. It was probably true thousands of years ago when most humans were hunter gatherers. But being omnivores, humans were able to coexist alongside large predators for thousands of years. Early man may have actually created more and more lion habitat wherever he went through burning and creating grasslands.

But in modern times the situation is that we have out-competed them for space. Most of this space, this potential lion and tiger habitat has been taken up by agriculture.

Lions and Tigers are no longer Apex predators, in the ecological scheme of things. There is no longer an apex that lions or tigers can sit atop, that encompasses everything,because that apex would have to include us, and not just us but all of the biomass we have sequestered for our own use, our pastures and herds of goats, sheep and cattle, our crops of wheat, rice, and corn.

Ultimately Lions, tigers and Humans are all competing for the same thing and that is lion's share of the sun's life giving energy. They've been shut out. All energy originates from the sun, its converted to carbohydrates by plants and turned into protein by herbivores, then this more refined food source is consumed by predators.

Its more complex than that, much more complex, but that's basically it. There is a pyramid where fewer and fewer complex organisms feed on the organisms from the level below them who are simpler and more abundant.

Human beings have created a far simpler ecology through domestication of plants and animals and lions and tigers have no place in this. We definitely don't tolerate them eating us, nor our domestic herds.

Modern people, living in cities are the most sympathetic to the fate of large predators. Why would this be? Could it be because, being higher up on the energetic food chain than rural Africans and Asians, we kind of resent, these indigenous farmers, killing these big sexy predators?

After all humans living in the third world are sequestering energy from the sun to be used by us, here in the West. We in cities in America and Europe and China and Japan are the at the Apex. We are the ones Getting the Lion's share of energy.

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