A busy week is over and I’m ready to get this thing started now!
Yesterday a had a exam in microbiology and now I’m really relaxed. After all it wasn’t that much material we had to know, but I think I haven’t been this stressed about a test in my years of studying. Maybe it was that I had to readjust to the German way of teaching and studying after my year in the US. Or maybe just the fact that the grade is actually a quite big part of my major.
And now that it’s over I am relieved to have time to do stuff I wanted to all week, so this is starting right now:
I actually don’t know for 100% what to write, but as I understand this anything is fine. Nobody has to read this 😉 So I’m just going to share a picture I took during my vacation this summer. Part of the road trip through the Western USA with my girlfriend included a 5 day stay at the Yellowstone National Park – and a fascinating description by the famous naturalist John Muir. Many bison can be seen in the park and here’s one of them:
Observing these magnificent animals is a great pleasure to me. Already on our first day we stumbled upon a couple of bison that were walking along the side of the road – I was super excited! Little did I know that we would see many everyday. But my excitement stayed the same at every encounter to the annoyance of my girlfriend.
I remember playing with my Playmobil toys as a kid. The Cowboys and Indians set was one of my favorite and it also included a bison. So maybe it was the stories from my imagination that came back to me as I saw these symbols of the Wild West strolling along the road, rolling in the dirt or rubbing their heads on a tree. Whatever it was, it hasn’t let me go since then. I find myself thinking about bison almost everyday and all the bison pictures from the trip – which are actually a lot – belong to my top selection.
Another key moment that started my bison mania was the story a ranger told during a presentation. It was a sad story. A story about men and their unstoppable will to conquer everything. It is estimated that their used to live around 30 million bison spread across almost all of North America. Unfortunately the greed of people caused a disaster:
The animals were immensely important for the survival of the Native American tribes. Every part was used: The meat for food, skins for shoes and tents, and the fur for clothes. While Native Americans lived along side buffaloes for a long time adn treated them with respect, cowboys used them to make money. First most of the hunting of the white men was conducted during the winter to obtain the valuable winter fur, which could be sold for high prices as they are ideal for coats. During the same time the industrialization in Europe continued and leather was needed for the belts of machines. Most of the cattle herd in South America have already been exhausted, when they started to turn their focus onto the massive abundance of bovines in the prairie. Now the hunting wasn’t just limited to the winter season but took place year around and involved all ages of bison. Even the native tribes started selling bison skin to the trading posts. At some point hundreds of thousands of skins were shipped to Europe in a single year, while the meat of the animals wasn’t even used but left to rot in the prairie. Some hunters killed dozens on a single day, like the famous Buffalo Bill.
By the end of the 19th century the population was depleted to a few hundred animals, which stayed hidden in the higher mountain regions. Fortunately the US Army squad stationed in the Yellowstone area to protect the newly founded National Park started a breeding program. Starting with a herd of 23 animals in 1890 they managed to create a healthy population. Today there are over 3’000 animals in the National Park area.
It’s hard to believe that the human race managed to almost make the bison go extinct. An animal of which many millions roamed freely through the vastness of the USA. This should be a lesson for everybody about what can happen when greed takes the best of us, but also about the power we have on this planet. Not only did we manage to kill almost all the buffaloes, but we also restored a healthy population through a collective effort to protect bison. This idea should be transferred to the rescue of our planet. A planet we almost destroyed…. Together we can change our negative influence and do something positive.
I leave this with you in the light of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference of the UN that is currently taking place.
PS: WOW! That was way more text than I was going for… Well, I hope you enjoyed it!