Letter: Time to protect the tsetse fly

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Schoon says man has the right to eradicate what he calls "natural enemies" like the tsetse fly. There are thousands of animals and insects which have the capacity to harm or kill humans. Spiders, scorpions, sharks, crocodiles, lions, tigers, piranhas. They all have, and still do, kill humans. They can all be placed in Mr Schoon's classification "natural enemies". Should we destroy them too?

In an ideal world pest control schemes are desirable but experience says we must be careful when we play God. Man has despoiled many places by randomly using dangerous chemicals to kill pests. Should we swamp malarial areas with pesticide to kill off mosquitoes?

If Mr Schoon is right and we are only playing nature's game when we destroy our "natural enemies" there is no hope for the future. We exert such fearsome control over most of the planet that if we destroy everything that can harm or kill people we will mortally wound the ecosystem upon which we all rely.

The way to save what is left of nature is to concentrate on what Mr Schoon scornfully describes as the "fluffy" animal approach to wildlife conservation. By supporting efforts to save rhinos, whales, elephants, and other "fluffy" species organisations are protecting vast ecosystems which contain thousands of other species. We should recognise the importance of "ugly" animals and insects, but at least by protecting the "fluffy" ones we are providing an umbrella for them all.


Protecting African Wildlife

St Helier, Jersey