Being delicious to humans has been one of the most successful evolutionary strategies of recent times. Farm animals now outweigh wild ones, quite literally. There are 23 billion chickens alive at any one time and these weigh more than all other birds combined. We live in the historical Age of the Chicken. The average chicken for cooking lives between five and nine weeks before human consumption. That means there are far more than 23 billion chickens alive and then dead every year.
This one at Challacombe Farm on Dartmoor is a long way from its original jungle fowl ancestors.
The farm is in perfect position to be temperate rainforest, with rain, temperature and humidity ideal for epiphytes – plants which grow on trees. There are beards of lichen on the few trees remaining.
Almost all the trees have been cleared to leave a desolate wasteland of bare moor.
There’s a domestic cats amongst the chickens. Being furry with nice eyes is another evolutionary strategy which has been wildly successful. There are probably 700 million domestic cats on Earth.
A large part of farming is producing meat for domestic dogs and cats.
There are more lichens on a tree here. Lichens are a symbiotic organism, with a fungus and either an alga or cyanobacterium living together. Lichens have been spectacularly successful; they cover 6% of the Earth’s surface.
There are one billion sheep in the world. They destroy huge amounts of land, rendering it lifeless and depleted and with precious few other species. They leave it sheepwrecked, and have exceptionally low productivity.
British people consume an average of 1.9kg of lamb a year. There are over 20 million sheep in the UK and only a few sheep per acre. What a desperate waste of land. It’s also massively subsidised. It’s the most expensive routine destruction of the environment across the UK. Just think of the natural life we could have in all those uplands if they didn’t have wooly pests.
I enjoy the sense of humour here, with faerie doors and troll signs and particularly appreciated the water bottle refill point. Please may we have one of these on every street? People in the UK use an average of 150 plastic water bottles each a year; that’s 7.7 billion plastic water bottles a year when drinking water comes out of a tap.
Time to sit and ponder the destruction of the natural world by humans.
I’d like to show you the photographs I took of native birds and mammals next, but there weren’t any.