Hello and welcome to my latest wildlife blog, I hope you have been well since the last issue. In this edition I talk about wrestling with my conscience when it comes to watching films where animals are advertised to being the "stars of the show". Consider this the tiger has more individuals in captivity than in the wild so one nearly drowning in the filming of the Life of PI certainly struck a nerve. Also in this edition, the usual assortment of wildlife news, I hope as always you enjoy the blog.
The use of animals in films.
When I saw the film the Life of Pi advertised for cinematography admittedly I was intrigued, the image of a huge, beautiful Bengal tiger grabbed my attention as it doubtless did with countless others. When the film appeared on television it was recorded for viewing at a more convenient time. Since then however, I read an article by the newspaper the Independent which highlighted the mistreatment of animals in films and sparked my conscience which had always nagged at me when seeing animals used as stars in films into overdrive. Is it acceptable that a tiger should nearly drown in the name of entertainment ? It's far from an isolated case of gross mistreatment, during the making of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a total of twenty seven animals including sheep and goats perished as a result of dehydration, exhaustion and drowning. A horse died in the making of War Horse and a chipmunk was squashed in the filming of Failure to Launch to name some examples. In my opinion the gross mistreatment of animals in the production of films surely is as bad as the mistreatment of animals in circuses after all both are fuelled by the need to entertain to earn a profit. The thought of abuse of circus animals rightly repulses people worldwide the thought of animals being abused in films should have the same affect. There is only one thing worse than the cowardly act of animal cruelty and that is animal cruelty to earn an income, currently the recording of Life of Pi remains unwatched and for sure that is how it will remain.
Negative representations of animals can reflect direly on wild populations. Sharks have experienced huge declines in numbers all over the globe, thanks in no small part to the combination of the novel "Jaws" and subsequent films which followed it. Indeed author Peter Benchley felt so bad about the subsequent impact on sharks that he went onto become a shark conservationist and was quoted as saying " knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today" in reference to Jaws. He would go on to write Shark Trouble highlighting the unfair portrayal of sharks in the media. Sharks are far from the only victims, one does not need to look far to find films where crocodiles, snakes, wolves amongst others cause terror as a result of "savage rampages".
A new species of wild cat has been discovered in Brazil. It had been assumed that there was only one species of Brazilian tigrina, Leopardus tigrinus but analyses of DNA evidence has revealed that tigrina's found in the north are an altogether different species than those found in the south which are now called Leopardus guttulus see the full article below.
Asian elephants it has been discovered can differentiate between the growls of different species of big cats. On hearing the growl of a tiger a potential threat to a calf, a stealthy retreat is taken by the herd, while on hearing a leopard a lesser threat, they respond with aggressive trumpeting.
BBC Wildlife magazine December 2013.
Not news as such but some remarkable predator prey interaction see below.
That is all for this occasion as usual I really hope you enjoyed the blog and thanks for reading,