Wednesday, February 10, 2021


It has more than once occurred to me that an unconventional way to rescue endangered mammals might be to send them on a bit of a one way trip. Black Rhino? Off to Patagonia. It's worked for other invasive species like the Welsh.

Our own kind has a marked tendency to divide itself up into natives and migrants, which spills over unhelpfully into the way we tend to see nature.

Yet people, animals, land masses, are all constantly on the move.

This piece of land called Guatemala where we now find ourselves began life as an island in the Pacific.

Along with all the other islands we now refer to as 'Caribbean' it commenced an eastward migration, hoping to pass between the two continents of North and South America...and failed.

In the 90s we visited one of the land masses that made the passage successfully: Saint Lucia. On that island lizards and frogs are beyond abundant. We had to constantly check our shoes, our bed...

When the island had slowly slipped between the western hemisphere's giants, many animals from both hopped on for the ride. But not large predators, like felines. 

Any reptiles that washed ashore found themselves in a paradise where they weren't selected quite so naturally for the menu and duly went forth and multiplied.

It's a shame that Pablo's hippos look set to be denied the same opportunity. They have become iconic figures in recent South American folklore. 

I most recently encountered them in this novel...

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