Red in tooth and claw

While a woman is killed by a crocodile in Africa, UK supermarkets get eco-chic.

Ray Crowley

Topics Politics

This is a bit of random text from Kyle to test the new global option to add a message at the top of every article. This bit is linked somewhere.

A headline in the London Evening Standard this week read ‘Elephant “set out to kill” keeper’. Mya, one of three elephants residing in London Zoo, was hand-picked from a herd by the colleague of the keeper she later trampled to death. Yet the elephant had no qualms about killing the man who ‘virtually lived with the animals’ in front of zoo visitors and children (1).

The death of gap-year traveller Amy Nicholls, who was killed by a crocodile, is similarly tragic. Nobody would wish that kind of thing on anybody. But there is a lesson to be learned from this horrible event.

Amy Nicholls had gone to Kenya as a conservation volunteer, and hoped the visit would widen her knowledge of environmental issues before she began a degree in geography. Her trip included activities like encouraging local villagers to protect their wildlife. Sadly, the irony is obvious. Just because this girl went out to Africa to protect the natural environment, it didn’t mean that nature was going to protect her. And as for persuading locals to protect their wildlife, who can blame people for sometimes killing life-threatening animals?

As anybody who has played with a cat for too long and got scratched will tell you, animals aren’t picky. They respond to their instincts. It’s all very well having romantic notions of the natural world, but the realities of living out there in the middle of it can be altogether different.

Both cases make Cameron Diaz’s resolution to give up pork because it would be ‘like eating my niece’ (2) sound rather ridiculous. Apparently, she was told pigs have the same mental capacity as a three-year-old, and so gave up her favourite hangover cure of bacon. Doesn’t say much for her mental capacity, does it? I know it’s all the world of movies, but somebody really ought to tell her Babe wasn’t real.

If Cameron restrains herself from eating her niece, then (barring any mishaps with elephants or crocodiles) the kid would grow up to be an adult capable of reasoning, language and abstract thought. The pigs Cameron saves from the post-binge drinking fry-up, on the other hand, will grow into adult pigs rolling around in mud.

(Although, I note that an additional consequence of Ms Diaz’s decision is that she will retain her figure – handy that.)

Cameron Diaz isn’t the only convert to trendy eco-chic. As part of its commitment to ‘saving energy and managing environmental issues’, the supermarket chain Waitrose recently announced that it will lend cyclist shoppers a special trailer in which to tow their shopping home (3).

They should give me a job – I can think of a few better methods for non-drivers to get their groceries home. For example, walking with a rucksack. No, it’s not very sexy, but even students have to eat. And how about old-fashioned taxis? Or what about if the supermarkets didn’t charge people for the sturdy carriers, and that these didn’t break halfway across the road?

I can’t think of a better way to cause congestion on the roads than cyclists careering around with little wagons swinging off the backs of their bikes. In any case, I’m not sure who is the target customer for this brainwave. Who in their right mind heads off to do their weekly shop on a bicycle?

(1) Elephant “set out to kill” keeper she crushed, Evening Standard, Nigel Rosser, 12 March 2002

(2) Britney and Justin splittin’ the sheets?, Amy Reiter,, 12 March 2002

(3) Waitrose launches cycle trailer scheme, Ananova, 12 March 2002

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Topics Politics


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