Field Notes from the past (10): Premonition

It has taken nature millions of years to produce the beautiful and wonderful varieties of animals which we are so rapidly exterminating. Unless we can create a sentiment which will check this slaughter, and devise laws for those who do not respect sentiment, the bones of our now common types will soon be as rare as those of the dodo and the great auk; and man will be practically the sole survivor of a great world of life.
Let us hope that this destruction can be checked by the spread of an intelligent love of nature and its products. And nowhere is it more important to inculcate these ideas than in the cities, which are the centers of the most influential press, periodical and book literature. The destruction of animal life is removing from city dwellers, farther and farther, the possibility of knowing the lower animals through contact with them in the field. To the average city-bred man, woman or young person, fauna is merely a vague and indefinite thing…

-First annual report of the New York Zoological Society, 1896


Warnings regarding the consequences of what we are doing to biodiversity are nothing new. How much have we changed in the last 120 years?

Cover image: The last seen thylacine died in 1936 in captivity. Nowadays it is an iconic example of human-triggered extinction.

From Wikimedia Commons


– New York Zoological Society. (1896). Annual report of the New York Zoological Society 1: 1-82. New York :New York Zoological Society.

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