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Man and Animals - Four of my favourite books.

One of the largest faults with conversations about animal welfare and the environment is that they too often sit at opposing sides whereas in reality man has a relationship with animals, wildlife and the environment that is often symbiotic and frequently imperfect. What I like about each of these authors is that they understand this, are well informed and use anecdotal information alongside science to illustrate this relationship.

Book cover
Man and Wildfowl by Janet Kear

Anyone with an interest in wildfowl, wildfowling or birds generally will find in Janet Kear a highly knowledgeable understanding of man's history with ducks and geese. I think it telling that such a conservationist fully understands this and this is from an era before the polarisation of argument that appeared with the advent of social media. She no way skirts around the cruelty and exploitation of man's practises, but also sees it as an ongoing relationship. "Culturally, emotionally and physically, we thrive only as part of the natural order, and our relationships with wildfowl provide many examples of this dependence." Janet Kear.

Picture of book spine
The Eye of the Wind by Sir Peter Scott

Peter Scott's The Eye of the Wind is an autobiographical story about a man's relationship with nature. In a way it charts the different ways that he tries to outwit nature; whether it be outwitting geese, hunting them on the marsh; outwitting the elements by flying long distances in his glider; or outwitting other men to survive in times of War. Read today you will see a modest person full of the attributes and flaws that a normal person experiences. It charts a massive respect for nature that evolved and changed over time with him become one of the greatest forces for conservation and the environment in my life time, with much of his works done after this book was published. In it is a great understanding of man's place and his responsibility to the environment and specifically wildfowl and wetlands.

Desmond Morris "Animal Days" is an autobiographical book that, like Sir Peter Scott, charts a developing relationship between man and nature. It charts a period when Desmond Morris was a significant power on the media of the day teaching the general public about animals on TV. It looks at the challenges of zoo animals and his experiences. We see a maturing of ideas and concepts and a deep understanding of man's place alongside animals and how this developed from a study of animals into a study of humans that he was to become even more famous for into the 1970's with his books and TV programs "The Naked Ape" and "Manwatching".

Bethany Brookshire's "Pests" is a brilliant book that looks at man's relationship with animals and challenges our concept of what makes a pest a pest. It also looks at various methods that man has taken in dealing with pests and challenges many of those practises. Although the book is about pests its is possibly more about man. What I particularly like is the combination of science and anecdote that is used by this author that also looks at religious beliefs and human history. Perhaps one of the key questions it raises is, "When is a pest not a pest?"

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