The Ocelot, one of its habitats and the Wall
I think you will agree with me that the Ocelot is an amazing looking wild cat. The lovely pattern of its coat and elegant body makes this a beautiful animal. I would love to have one in my cat family. Because it can weigh up to 15.5 kg, it is considered a medium-sized member of the cat family and can be up to 1 meter long. This is much bigger than the normal house cat and is almost twice the size of the Maine Coon cat.
The Ocelot’s habitat ranges from northern Argentina to the southwestern United States. It is an animal that becomes active at twilight and stays active during the night. It is a good climber and hunts small terrestrial mammals. The opossum, armadillo, and lagomorphs, which includes the hare, rabbit, and pika family, are all on the ocelot’s menu.
The Texan ocelots breed late in summer and after some months a litter of 2 or 3 cubs is born. The mother ocelot cares for her babies for 2 years. Lots of things they have to learn to be able to survive in the wildness. Its natural habitat is the Rio Grande Valley and biologists estimate that there are only 50 ocelots left in the United States and northeastern Mexico.
In 2009, 5 ocelots were sighted in Arizona and it is believed that they came from a population south of the border in the Mexican state of Sonora. It is obvious that special care needs to be taken to help the ocelot as it is on the border of extinction.
In this YouTube video, you can see how a young Ocelot is exploring its habitat and trying to fish, it is really cute.
The pet of Salvador Dali
Did you hear the story about Salvador Dali? He had a pet ocelot called Babou and would take it to a New York restaurant. He would tie the leash to the table leg and there Babou would be sitting with a stone-studded collar. Most guests would be rather surprised. This happened in the 1960s but nowadays the ocelots are on the endangered species list.
You may ask why I am telling you about this beautiful animal. Well, the reason is that the ocelot runs a grave danger and that danger is a wall. Yes, the wall that President Trump is so keen on building.
A collection of walls
World history has known many walls. Some are wonders of the world and some are despicable. Some have fallen or are in serious disrepair and some still exist today.
Take as an example the Great Wall of China. It started simply by the building of fortifications which were later connected by walls. The construction of the Great Wall took quite a few centuries and the first segments were built in predynastic China from 771-476 BC.
About 200 years later, the first emperor of China, Qin Shi wanted to protect his lands from nomads from Inner Asia and connected the fortifications by joining them with a continuous wall. Over time more segments of this wall and other walls were built by different rulers. This is a very long story which is not important for my post.
It is only to show you that wall-building, small or large, is something humans have done throughout history and the primary reason was to keep other humans out.
The Great Wall was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, and modern tourists visiting China will probably visit this monument. In 2003 the Chinese government enacted laws to protect it.
The Berlin Wall is another example of where a wall is built to control the population. This wall was meant to keep people inside Communist Germany and it completely circled West Berlin, cutting the city of Berlin in two. It separated families for a very long time, causing heartbreak and depression. Desperate attempts to “go over the wall” would result in capture or death. Regardless, it almost always ended in tragedy.
The building of the Berlin Wall started on August 13, 1961. Upon completion, it was 168 km (104 miles) long and at its tallest, was 3.6 m ( 11.8 ft) high, blocking the view even from the first floor. Windows on the side of the wall were often closed with brick and mortar to further prevent escape to the West. On November 9, 1989, the wall came down and the two parts of Germany were reunited
Another well-known wall is the one constructed by Israel in the occupied West Bank. Construction started in June 2002 and it was built to keep (or force) some people out of Israel. The argument was that it was necessary for security.
I have always had a misunderstanding of the naming of this area called “the West Bank”. It is east of Israel and is the western side of occupied Palestine. The barrier wall (also known as separation fence, West Bank barrier, or even Apartheid Wall), generally follows the Green Line, established as the border between Palestinian populations and Israel.
But there are significant deviations from the previously established border. It is almost 62% complete and after the entire 708 km length is constructed, an estimation of up to 13 % of Palestinian land will be on the Israeli side of this wall, effectively cutting off 10s of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and lands.
I am also thinking about the future like in 20 or 30 years. The south of Europe will become too hot to live due to climate change. That means that the people from the Mediterranean will move to the north. The question is will countries like Germany, Holland, and Belgium build a wall? What about America? Could it happen that Canada says we are full, you cannot come in, and eventually also build a wall?
There are though also good walls like the Great Green Wall of Africa. This is a natural barrier of planted trees that is meant to keep the Sahara from advancing. It stretches from the East to the West on the African continent. Can you imagine how happy wildlife will be with their new habitat?
Most of these walls have created problems be it in ancient history or more recently. There is another “famous” wall which is creating big problems, not only for people but also for fauna and flora.
Nowadays, when you hear “The Wall” mentioned, most people will automatically think of President Trump and his election stumping announcement to build a wall keeping the Mexican people out and letting Mexico pay for it.
To be fair, part of the American wall exists already, 650 miles to be precise. The total border between Mexico and the United States is some 2000-mile long, so there still is a big gap to close. It depends on what type of construction you choose. One that lets water and wildlife through or a solid barrier that stops everything dead in its tracks.
Now, this is where an environmental problem starts. The construction of a solid wall is on its way, which will hinder the passing of anything bigger than a pocket mouse.
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Hollands solution for wildlife routes
Holland is a small country which is densely populated. It can boast of beautiful nature, big forests, and lots of wildlife. Being such a populated country, over time highroads have crossed the natural wildlife routes in many places.
A great solution was found. Bridges with vegetation were built over the highways so all animals could cross without danger. Normally people do not cross those bridges as they are only meant for animals. The country can boast of more than 66 of such bridges.
Coming back to the American Wall, bridges would not be practical in an effort to control immigration because people, as well as animals, would use them. Sadly, now the U.S. is building a wall that is insurmountable for wildlife, small and big. It is planned to have a total of 576 miles of the wall ready by the end of the year and it will only cost you, the taxpayer, a mere $11 billion.
Just imagine what one could do with all that money? Like taking the homeless off the streets. Or at least helping the homeless veterans by giving them Tiny Homes. I bet there would be money left for better healthcare, etc. Just let your imagination run.
The problem with this President
When in the past, some good laws were put into place, laws like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, this president wipes these laws of the table with one sweep of his hand. The consequences are more than serious for all living things, and yes, humans included.
Some more species that will suffer
The building of this blocking wall will not only hinder the Ocelot from moving freely in his habitat.
The Saguaro cactus which grows in the Sonoran desert is being destroyed. To think that under Arizona law, someone convicted of cutting down or damaging a Saguaro cactus could face up to 25-years in prison. The sacred burial site of the Tohono O’odham people are being blown up to make space for the wall. Then there are quite a few endangered animal species that will suffer.
The Mexican Gray Wolf, which is the smallest of its species, is seeing its habitat reduced. In the late 1970s, America in collaboration with Mexico tried their best to save this wolf. Seven Mexican gray wolves were captured and bred in captivity. Now the total population of Mexican Gray Wolves are some 131 and are all descendants of those initial 7.
The wall will cut through the wolf populations and hinder a recovery to healthy genetic diversity. At the moment this little group is mainly brothers and sisters, and isolating this population is unhealthy as it will force inbreeding.
Another animal that will suffer the consequences of the wall is the Jaguar. It is the third-largest cat and the largest one native to North America. It boasts a lovely spotted coat and is really beautiful. They roam freely between Mexico and the United States so you can imagine that a wall will stop it from doing so. These last 20 years, 7 jaguars have been sighted in Arizona, but the wall will restrict its freedom.
The Peninsular Bighorn Sheep will not benefit from the wall and neither will aquatic species like the Quitobaquito pupfish or the Sonoyta mud turtle. To build this wall huge amounts of groundwater are required. Some estimate it as being as much as 50 million gallons (75 Olympic swimming pools).
Questions arise regarding the safety of the habitat of the mud turtle, which only has two habitats and the pupfish, which live in one of the mud turtle habitats. Where are the turtle and the pupfish going to live? Let’s face it, this wall is a killer and we should stop it.
Something one should not forget is that border monitoring control vehicles, the noise of trucks and helicopters, all this will frighten wildlife far away from their habitat. The use of high-intensity floodlights and air pollution will also disturb and diminish wildlife. Do you want that to happen?
Source: Sierra Club, article by Garet Bleir, Feb 18, 2020
Photo Source: Pixabay
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