Monday, April 23, 2007

Big Cats - A Great Loss

When will there only be images left?
Today, today. Not tomorrow; it is now.

North American Jaguar

In the news lately, I've read about the plight of the Amur Leopard. This most northern of the leopards is on the brink of extinction. Most consider its numbers already too low to salvage the population. Only about 30 survive. It is such a beautiful cat. It was featured in this week's Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel. I actually cried when I read that just last week some dumb hunter shot and beat to death one of the last 7 females. Now only 6 females are left.

As heartbreaking as that is, the tragedy exists here in the U.S. at the same level, largely ignored.

When I thought about the leopard, my mind recalled a story I had seen years and years ago about jaguars in Arizona. I remember being fascinated by the story, thinking only mountain lions or pumas of the truly big cats remained in North America. So, I checked up on it recently, and more are being sighted in Arizona, but as visitors from Mexico rather than residents, and remain ultra-rare. They, too, are on the brink of extinction - down to less than 100 individuals in Sonora, Mexico. Ranchers and poachers have killed 25 of them in the last three years.

Here is some information:
North American Jaguar
Arizona Sighting of Jaguar
Border Fence May Be Demise of Jaguars

The Florida Panther is another nearly extinct cat, with less than 100 individuals surviving as well.

Six main species of cat remain in the American wild, but many subspecies are at risk or have gone extinct in recent times. The American wild was once home to many other big cats - the American Lion, Saber Tooth Tiger, and Scimitar Cat included. Who knows how many men once saw these magnificent animals?

Who knows how many men will never be able to see an Amur Leopard, a Florida Panther, or a North American Jaguar? For once they are gone, they are gone from this world forever. Sometimes I wonder, does the animal know that he is the last generation of his kind, that no more will come after him, that his children will not survive and will not find anyone to have more children with? This last of his kind, does he wander looking for a mate, not realizing there is none to be found, perplexed over his lack of success? Or does he know he is alone in the world and feel it? Does he know why?

When he sleeps for the last time, he accepts his fate and the fate of his kind for as an animal he has only ever been submitted to God. But if the loss of his kind is due to the poor behavior of men, will he rise on the Day of Judgment when those men are questioned about him?

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