Pretty Is As Pretty Does
One thing I try to do when I write a book about animals is to highlight at least one in a special way, not just through the writing of the book itself, but because it’s endangered or it’s not a popular animal, like a giraffe or a lion.
In this new book I highlighted two. The prairie dog and the vulture. Now, all of my friends know that I can talk about the prairie dogs from now until the cows come home, and often do. But few people talk about vultures, and that’s unfortunate because they’re so important to us human folk. What? Vultures are important? Let me explain.
Vultures are the waste management of our eco systems. They take away what everyone else leaves behind. Without them carcasses would be left to rot, spreading diseases like anthrax, botulism, plague, and rabies to other animals and thus to humans. Carcasses left to rot also infect the water systems as well.
In India the 500 million cows they have are sacred. They roam free and when they die are left to rot. India’s vulture population of close to 80 million took care of those carcasses. In the 1990’s the population of vultures began a steep decline. The population has dwindled to a few thousand due to a veterinary drug given to the cattle that causes liver collapse in vultures. Consequently India’s dog and rat population soared, and rabies became rampant, not just in the animal population but 30,000 humans a year died from rabies and another half million had to be treated. The cost to India is 25 million per year simply due to the loss of vultures.
In Africa poachers poison the animals they butcher with the sole purpose of killing the circling vultures in the sky that give away their location. There are parts of Africa that haven’t seen a vulture in years. As with India this affects other wildlife and humans as well.
That’s a long explanation to say – we’re all interconnected and in ways most can’t imagine. Vultures may not look pretty to most, but to quote the old adage “Pretty is as pretty does” couldn’t be truer.