“We treat this world as if we have another one to go to”

The film Interstellar has just been released and, from the trailers, the theme seems to be mankind’s need to move to another planet after screwing this one up. This seems to imply than mankind’s long term survival rests on being able to move from one planet to another like a plague of locusts and, rather than sorting out the root problem that we ourselves have created (overpopulation) we simply move on once we’ve exhausted/buggered up the local natural resources.

civet_cats_2A family of civet cats has moved into a pot on the balcony of our house. I suspect this is not simply opportunism but rather because good nesting sites in the surrounding forest are getting more scarce as the housing development in the area expands. I read about a similar thing happening in Penang where Hornbills (who normally nest in the nooks of trees) had started nesting in pots in people’s backyards instead. As our population grows, more and more of the forests are being cleared and the animals are losing their habitat and decreasing in number.

In the case of tigers the situation is so dire that they are in real danger of becoming extinct in Malaysia. This is not just due to loss of habitat but also due to poaching which is providing the final nail in the head and threatens to reduce numbers of wild tigers to a level where they become unsustainable.

Even in Taman Negara (Malaysia’s national park) tigers are in real trouble. No one knows exactly how many are left but the guess is around 80 tigers. Not many!

You might think that the solution would be to breed tigers and introduce them into the park but this doesn’t really work as tigers needs a certain amount of space and their numbers hit a maximum level and stay there. I don’t know the exact number that Taman Negara can support but it isn’t that much higher than around 100 tigers.

As more forest is felled to make way for palm oil plantations in Malaysia the amount of habitat for the wild animals diminishes and their numbers reduce accordingly to the point where what was once a relatively minor event (a tiger being poached) could have a catastrophic consequence by reducing the number left to a point where they die out.


Here’s a question for you: which country has the highest number of tigers? The answer is America. Okay, it’s a trick question as those are captive or pet tigers, but one day soon they may be the only sort of tigers left.

There is fascinating short film on the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone park and it demonstrates the fine balancing act that natures achieves. Here is the link: How wolves change rivers it is well worth watching. Here in Malaysia you can see a similar thing going on as the number of wild boar grow as the number of their natural predators reduce.

Anyway, all that is a bit depressing so here is some video footage of the civet cats to cheer us all up.