A few hours around field and wood with the gun on Sunday gave me time to reflect on the extraordinary events going on at the moment. Out amongst nature, where danger and threat are components of every wild creature’s life, it’s easy to dismiss the burgeoning threat to some of the human population. Sitting on a stump, sipping a cup of hot soup, I studied the trees around me. They have just come through their own period of cataclysm and they lost many of their weak or older cousins in the face of storm and gale. Nature does this to herself. It’s natural cleansing. I was out amongst the trees while they endured their test. It was inspiring, watching the resilience to conditions. It was also sad, hearing the crack of the bough and the tumble of ancient bole. Covid-19 landed, officially, in my home county yesterday. The experts and their graphs tell us what to expect. This ‘gale’ will hit all of us. The majority will survive. The vulnerable and sick may die. It’s not the virus that will kill. It is its side-effect, interstitial pneumonia.
The forests were here on earth long before apes and hominids. They have fed and sheltered us throughout our evolution. Despite all the doom and gloom preached by the green-mongers, the forests will still be here long after we’ve self-imploded, notwithstanding the abuse we have subjected them to. If trees have any ‘sentience’, what must they think of us as a species? I would think they’d agree that we are an animal that deserves the good slap around the proverbial head that we are now experiencing.
The conjecture that the pandemic overwhelming the world right now was born in a laboratory is academic now, isn’t it? It’s ‘out there’. Conspiracy theorists are already suggesting that this the human version of myxomatosis. A man-made antidote to the plague of rabbits that were decimating Antipodean sheep pastures seventy years ago.
More recently, we have seen the RHD variants. Would any nation deliberately seek to cull it’s elderly and weak for economic or population-pressure purposes? I prefer to think that this is a genuine biological aberration. An animal to human transmission or mutation. But what do I know? The theorists may be right. Very few creatures adopt the sentimentality that humans do when it comes to the sick and the elderly. I’m no expert but it seems a particularly ‘primate’ trait. The canine packs (wolf, wild dog, hyena) and the big cats all seem to have a social system that dictates survival of the fittest. Intentional or not, that system will be forced on the human race over the coming weeks and months.
Mankind was doomed the moment we started to mechanise and automate. The logarithmical evolution of the human brain is now hurtling at overwhelming speed towards catastrophe. We have developed beyond ‘Homo sapiens’ into a legion of sub-species, often at odds with each other. Vegetarian versus omnivore. Animal rights supporter versus hunter/gatherer. Gender identity divergence. Urban versus rural. Religious conflict. We were always going to be the engineers of our own self-destruction – whether nuclear, chemical or biological. Unless mankind gives up ‘technological advance’ and deliberately simplifies the way we live, it has no chance of surviving. Extinction Rebellion is far too late, as SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) is proving. There is much talk of the benefit of ‘herd immunity’ but we’re talking about a herd of animals that not only covers the whole planet but also transfers location ad-infinitum. Which is why this has spread so fast. Isn’t it ironic that the airline industry is the first to suffer so severely by the decision of continents and nations to close their borders to transference?
Human behaviour over the past few weeks has been embarrassing. We are now, surely, getting what we deserved? At a time when communities should be stoic and rooted together, we are seeing selfishness and avarice. Supermarket shelves stripped bare by those who can afford to, neglecting those who can’t. We’re also seeing the ignorance and bravado of folk who think they are bigger than this threat. The fool who says they are going to carry on At a time when we should be looking for harmony, not greed, the human intellect is once again found wanting.
Before I left the forest, I studied the trees again. Wondering, as I did when I left them during the storms, whether I would see them all again? No, I’m not a ‘tree-hugger’. I’m a hunter and would be nothing without the sanctuary and isolation of the forest. And the company of its flora and fauna. I am also someone who is now being described as having ‘underlying health problems’. Many of us are.
Stay safe, folks. Remember that self-isolation doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoors. Your mental state is as important as your physical health. Go walk amongst the trees and feed off their resilience.
Copyright, Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, March 2020