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Global Ideas Reporter | Biodiversity & ...

Eating our way through endangered species


Photo credit: CC BY 2.0 by Orni Zebest/flickr

Photo credit: CC BY 2.0 by Orni Zebest/flickr

Jennifer Seitz ponders humans’ seemingly insatiable appetite for exotic and wild meat – one that’s driving critically endangered species like the pangolin to the brink of extinction.

Man is the world’s most insatiable and efficient predator. His highly developed intelligence and the use of weapons and arms gives him the opportunity to kill opponents who normally would be much superior in the wild.

Furthermore, humans are ‘super-predators’ because they don’t just decide for one predator-prey system, but decide to get for all animals they feel threatened by.  Although humans have managed to domesticate a lot of animals like cows, pigs and poultry they’re not satisfied with it. Nope.  They also love to eat exotic animals. And they’re doing it in such a frenzied way that these animals are nearly extinct. That’s what happened to pangolins. Their meat is so highly coveted in China and Vietnam, that all eight pangolin species were upgraded on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They’re critically endangered and the most illegally-traded mammals in the world – a sad record.

And because pangolins in Asia are becoming scarce, a booming pangolin trade in Africa has developed. Even there, the little scaly anteaters with their sticky tongues aren’t safe anymore.

But hey humans, don’t worry. When the pangolins have disappeared, there are still enough other endangered species which can be eaten to extinction.

More information can be found here.


August 7, 2014



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Sonia Phalnikar | Ideas

‘Hands off my sausage,’ say Germans to meat-free proposal

Photo credit: CC BY 2.0: Bernt Rostad/flickr:

Germans take very seriously their cherished right of eating sausage whenever they want

Rice and beans instead of sausages and meat? The very idea of eathing just vegetarian fare – even if it’s just once a week – has many meat-loving Germans up in arms. Find out why.

The whole kerfuffle began earlier this week with Germany’s opposition Green Party saying they planned to roll out a weekly vegetarian day if elected. Yes, Germany is in full campaign mode with six campaign weeks left until national elections.

So, what’s the fuss about? The Greens say one day each week, workplace cafeterias at federal government institutions would be banned from serving any meat dishes or products. The environmentally-friendly party hopes that would become a model for corporate and school canteens.The party says lower meat consumption would reduce the impact of farming on the environment, lead to an increase in quality and better conditions for animals.

“A veggie day is a wonderful day to try out how to nourish oneself without meat and sausage for once,” Green Party leader Renate Künast told mass-market daily Bild this week.

But, many think otherwise. Though environmental groups have welcomed the proposal, it’s sparked uproar in the country. Some lawmakers have said it smacks of a lecturing attitude. German Agricultural Minister Ilse Aigner was quoted through a spokesman that “we don’t place much stock in paternalism. At the end of the day, we need a balanced diet and meat is part of that.”

Meat certainly is a big part of German‘s lives. Estimates suggest that per capita meat consumption in the country per year is 60 kilograms (against a global average of 42 kg per-capita annually).

A recent United Nations study suggested people in the industrialized world should halve their meat consumption, saying the demand for ever cheaper meat is ruining the planet by leading to a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock, diverting vast quantities of grain from human to animal consumption and requiring intensive use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.

But many meat-loving Germans remain unconvinced. Members of the youth wing of the Free Democrats (FDP) even organized a spontaneous street barbeque this week in front of Green Party headquarters in Berlin. Some members held up slogans saying “Hands off my sausage.”


August 9, 2013



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