Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Native Species

I was excited about this encyclopedia when a friend told me about it yesterday but was very disappointed to read this article in the newspapers today.

I am glad that Dr Ng realises that sterilisation is the way to go, and that this will help keep the population in check. This is exactly why a sterilisation programme is so important. What is disturbing to me is the native species argument. The real impact as I am sure we can all agree, isn't cats or any of these other invasive species - it's humans.

I was just having a conversation with someone the other day and every time I come back to Singapore, the landscape has changed so much. New buildings have popped up. Some friends of mine who were away two years recently came back and couldn't recognise Singapore anymore. Is it really the non-native species that are causing these issues, or is it the fact that we are demolishing areas in order to find more space for people and our activities? If our native species are competing for food and space, then who takes away more food and space then we do? With an increasing population, and such limited space, cats are the least of their problems.

8 comments:

budak said...

I think both animal/pet lovers and conservationists would tend to agree that at the heart of it, it's the desire and greed of humans (and a rising population) for space and resources that's eating into what natural habitat there is. But the problem of invasive species brought in by human agency is also a valid, separate matter that adds to the pressures already faced by native species.

In Singapore at least, I doubt feral cats pose a significant problem in the nature areas. But except for the least disturbed nature reserves, native species (of fish, lizards, turtles etc) have lost much ground to non-natives released by men. I don't think anyone is calling for a cull to eradicate these non-natives (there is certainly a need to regulate the livestock import and pet trade more tightly); but regarding both as equivalent ignores the longheld and vital roles played by the natives in supporting the ecosystem (as food, predators, habitat modifiers etc) and countless other species that share their home. Call this a 'nativitist' stance if you will, but I find that some animal lovers are blind to the threats faced by indigenous ecosystems from both man and his (former) companion animals. It's a bias that conservationists rightly justify.

Dawn said...

Hi budak - if there are instances where native species are distinctly being threatened, I certainly agree that something should be done. I don't think that killing is the answer though - and I do think that there are alternatives that need to be (and can be) worked out.

I do know that in the reservoirs and other areas I have seen several non-native species that are definitely abandoned.

However as you said, I don't think cats are a huge issue and that often cats are made scapegoats. There have been how many animals are killed by cats - but no real studies. The one that is often cited is an extrapolation based on a very small area and a small number of cats.

I also think that bearing in mind that while cats may not have been 'native' species, that they have co-existed with other native species for quite a long time. In the US for example, cats have certainly been a while for quite a long while - but threats to the songbirds there are really becoming a problem only in the last few decades. I don't think that blaming cats is therefore very fair.

Anonymous said...

Army training is another major destroyer of our "nature", perhaps less now with artificial camouflage materials. In my days, we would carelessly pluck all kinds of fauna, except CB leaves for camouflage and when the training was over, the area was just strewn with so much wastage! So any species is to be blamed, it is the HOMINIS Spp.!

Anonymous said...

oops...homo sapiens species!

Phil said...

You only have to look at satellite pictures of forested (deforested?) areas to see what damage humans have done to the world for a few dollars, maybe someone needs to start sterilising all the people instead...

yskat said...

I understand that the idea of "imported vs native" species has been gaining currency, and there're some real concerns. From the perspective of the history of ideas, however, I wonder how much is this kind of thinking is shaped by the type of nativism that is emerging all over the world - mainly in response to globalisation.

imp said...

i keep reminding myself that you're talking about cats. not humans. and I keep getting confused because they seem to merge into one and the same idea of foreign vs local. :PPP

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