Sunday, 12 April 2009

From "The End of the Line"

By Charles Clover.

Imagine what people would say if a band of hunters strung a mile of net between two immense all-terrain vehicles and dragged it at speed across the plains of Africa. This fantastical assemblage, like something out of Mad Max, would scoop up everything in its way: predators, such as lions and cheetahs, lumbering endangered herbivores, such as rhinos and elephants, herds of impala and wildebeest, family groups of warthogs and wild dog. Pregnant females would be swept up and carried along, with only the smallest juveniles able to wriggle through the mesh.

Picture how the net is constructed, with a huge metal roller attached the leading edge. The rolling beam smashes and flattens obstructions, flushing creatures into the approaching filaments. The effect of dragging a huge iron bar across the savannah is to break off every outcrop, uproot every tree, bush and flowering plant, stirring columns of birds into the air. Left behind is a strangely bedraggled landscape resembling a harrowed field. The industrial hunter-gatherers now stop to examine the tangled mess of writhin or dead creatures behind them. There are no markets for about a third of the animals they have caught because they don't taste too good, or because they are simply too small or too squashed. The pile of corpses is dumped on the plain to be consumed by carrion.

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