Thursday, October 3, 2013

European Wildlife and Natural Settings

I have a fascination with wildlife documentaries over the past couple years, particularly the ones produced and narrated by David Attenborough. One of my favorites was one where they chronicled the seasons in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of our planet.

However, every now and then I will come across a nature documentary covering some part of Europe and I will always be a bit surprised.

Europe and Britain are probably the most well explored, well covered parts of our planet. Even more so than our own continent where there are still regions where the maps are fuzzy (without government intervention). It is easy to think of Europe as being completely and utterly settled with a perpetual mark of human settlement and impact. Anywhere that isn't, must be because of it being war torn in some way.

As I watch these documentaries showing animals, being animals, while humans are not involved, I am struck by the diversity that is there. The animals of Europe, while different than what we're accustomed to seeing in nature documentaries are fascinating. They seem common and everyday, just like described, but there is a unnaturalness because people just do not film Europe as a natural setting.

I recently watched a documentary on the Danube, and I was shocked that it was a river much like the Nile or the Amazon. Another documentary was about the formation of the continents, and had a bit of ho the Alps are merely a part of the long string of mountains that stretch across the southern portion of Eurasia.

I suspect, it is because the natural documentarians tend to Western or European, and they looking to film exotic locales like the Galapagos. It leads to the exotic around us being lost. Average people know more about the animals of Australia or Africa than we do in our own backyards.

We could argue the same for the United States, while we are so willing to clear cut our forests for new tract housing, and save the Amazon in next breath. And thus, like the Amazon, we lose something. We lose something remarkable.

I grew up in South Florida, and there was much there that I simply took for granted. One day trips out to the Everglades, I would always be captivated, like we were being taken to a completely different part of the world. We were taught in school about the importance of its conservation. Yet, somehow, it never connected just how critical is was to our survival. How it helped protect us from hurricanes and flooding. This would be the same when we would be taken on snorkeling trips, or to see the coral reefs.

This diversity, this life was right there, but we were determined to bulldoze it before we knew anything about it.