Wednesday, December 8

Of donkeys and wild boars

A few months ago the Valencian Department of the Environment put into practice an initiative called “fire brigade”. The project consisted of releasing about 50 donkeys in the surroundings of the Desert de Les Palmes Natural Park in order for the animals to control the shrub layer, thus contributing to the prevention of forest fires that, year after year, ravage our mountains .

A few months later the alarms sounded: several people, residents of the area, publicly denounced the poor condition of the donkeys that, as it could be seen in the images released, were clearly malnourished. A subsequent investigation revealed the sad deaths of 10 of the equines. From here begins a crossing of accusations between the rancher who owns the animals and the Ministry, both eluding responsibility regarding the authorship of the initial proposal to release the donkeys, their care and their unfortunate end, despite the fact that it was the administration itself that advertised this project as a “simple, cheap and ecological way to prevent forest fires.” For their part, the veterinarians in charge of discerning what happened, point to the possibility of poisoning or stress due to harassment, because several corpses have been found in ravines, which would lead to think that something scared the animals to the point to cause them to fall.

In any case, and pending the final results of the necropsies, there are several facts on which it is worth reflecting, since the urgent need to introduce animals to clear the undergrowth in the Desert is surprising, since every year wild boar hunts are authorized Pretending an overpopulation of individuals that cause tremendous damage in the park. Wild boars are eminently herbivorous animals that feed precisely on botanical species that, according to long-established popular belief, favor the expansion of fire, ignoring that, in reality, the understory is a fundamental part of the forest ecosystem, retaining the soil, regulating the water cycle and protecting the shoots of new trees that regenerate the forest. Therefore, the action of the animals that live there is enough to perform a moderate thinning of the vegetation; In addition, these animals open trails with their strong legs, clearing the scrub, and maintain the integrity of the rafts (natural or artificial) due to the fact that they are very conceited, spend a lot of time dedicated to their personal hygiene and enjoy a good bath a lot; wallowing in the aquatic bottoms, they conserve the depth of the ponds. However, they appear to have mysteriously disappeared, and for this reason, donkeys had to be introduced to do exactly what wild herbivorous animals do when allowed to live.

Donkeys are domestic animals; This means that their ancestors were captured and tamed by humans to use their strength in various activities, mainly agricultural work or as means of transportation. We are often horrified to learn about the methods of training animals in circuses, which has led many localities to ban them, but they are exactly the same practices that were used to subject previously wild animals to human will. Once the first individuals are tamed, breeding and selection over time results in the animals we know today. One of the most appreciated characters, and therefore most favored during the selection process, is docility. Consequently, the domesticating process aims to get individuals as submissive as possible, who have lost their instinct to be free to accommodate what is expected of them, that is, to carry out the work that they want to be assigned without causing problems for them. their owners. Obedience, -which is indeed an unnatural tendency because it violates the basic instinct to be free-, which exists innately in all animals, has as a counterpart the difficulty of survival in an environment that may be hostile to them, for unknown and because the hand of the human being made them dependent.

Poisoned or scared, the donkeys should not have been left to their fate in the Desert. Although the domestication process can be reversed – because these equines, despite their undeserved fame, are actually very intelligent animals – they need time to adapt, so that the first days you have to provide them with water and food. to those who are used to receiving so that, little by little, they get to know their new environment, feel comfortable and recover their life in a natural space, in addition to monitoring them to check their evolution and provide them with a refuge where they can take shelter and feel safe, since they are used to living in a stable.

As ten corpses have appeared and the rest are in a state of malnutrition, the conclusion is that nobody cared about them. Now, after the failure of this project, the wild boars, who had not been known since the creation of the “ecological fire brigade”, reappear prodigiously in the Desert, so the Conselleria once again authorizes the raids to hunt them, without take into account its important role in the forest ecosystem for the survival of many other species, much less that we are dealing with conscious individuals who have an interest in living and enjoying their lives.

In an age in which there is a growing social sensitivity towards other animals, based on the own experience of those who usually deal with them and on the numerous studies that inform us of their complex emotional and social capacities, such actions are not welcome. First we domesticate the donkeys, we remove them from their habitat and we continue selecting them to manufacture individuals that meekly obey to bend to human whims without resisting, but their loyalty is useless when someone thinks of doing an experiment, it converts them in brigade members trying to recover, suddenly, their ability to survive in the natural environment, and when they appear dead and malnourished after a public complaint, -since the intervention of the people who have seen the bad situation of these animals has been necessary- , nothing happens either; the survivors return to their stable and no one is held responsible.

Once the fire-fighting program is finished, the shotguns return to the Desert, because no matter whether we are talking about donkeys or wild boars, the other animals are still subject to the whim of some human beings, who confine or free them, forget or kill them at will, ignoring both the science as well as social evolution, an evolution that, fortunately, denounces and considers inadmissible, to an increasing degree, the practices that consist of using other animals, recognizing their rights and granting them the place and consideration that rightly correspond to them. .

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