There is rarely a clearer demonstration of the ways in which the depictions of animals are used to give them moral weighing than looking at how a creature has been portrayed before and after its extinction. Especially if the extinction was caused or largely caused by humans. Take the thylacine....
Recently, the government announced that they would be extending badger culls (which have not worked) not only to other 'high risk' areas for bovine TB but also granting licenses in new 'low risk' zones across the UK as well. This is a very complicated issue.
A few weeks ago, one of the winning images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition was ignominiously disqualified. This brings up some interesting questions about truth in nature imagery.
There has been widespread lamentation of the passing of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino. But it was already an extinct species. These magnificent creatures snuffed it a long time ago and few people noticed. Extinction is sneaky.
Working through my synopsis of Darwin's 'Origin' got me thinking about how things have changed. We now have unprecedented access to the blueprints of life. Genetic technologies are changing how we view living things, but might they even begin to dissolve the very meaning of a 'species'?
‘Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’