Week 12

Placing Animals:An introduction to the geography of human-animal relations by Julie Urbanik

It is interesting to put our human-animal relationships into words. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ scenario. Animals that are pets are given certain protections that wild animals are not, which are given different treatment from zoo animals, which are given different treatment from farm animals, which are treated differently from species to species and purpose to purpose. So what do humans want and how do we classify animals? In short, it’s complicated.

There are laws that vary from country to country and from state to state. There are also cultural norms to consider. Eating beef is common place in America, but to do so in India would be blasphemous. Guinea pigs are beloved pets in the US, but delicacies in certain places in South America. So essentially, on our relationships with animals is a big fat it depends on cultural norms and environmental concerns, too.

If an animal is considered endangered or threatened, there may be laws put in place to protect it from being hunted. That being said, the enforcement of those laws may vary on a lot of things. If the animal in question is hurting farm animals or crops, it may be loosely enforced, the same goes for if the endangered animal is believed to have medicinal or healing qualities when certain body parts are harvested, such as horns or fur.

Overall, I really liked this book. I thought it was interesting and I’m glad that it brought up the fact that geography has a huge influence on how we view and treat different animals. I also thought the closing to the book was very poignant: “Animal geography has given you the tools to “see”animals; their invisibility for you now can only happen by your choice. It is up to you to determine what kind of human-animal earth you want to experience in your time here.” (pg187)

Environmental News

Black Fungi protect Wood from Rot

It seems counter-intuitive, but there is a kind of black fungus that doesn’t make wood rot. Normally, fungus behaves in such a way as to digest dead wood, or be parasitic towards trees. But a certain species of fungus, Aureobasidium, has been found to protect wood when impregnated with oils. The theory for the wood not rotting is that the black coloration blocks UV light and the fungus’s presence keeps other fungi from attacking the wood.


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