Every Friday, Frank Skinner, the comedian, writes an Opinion column in The Times. It is always interesting and it is always witty - he is a good writer and he poses some interesting questions. Today's is particularly so. You can probably read it in full on The Times website - the heading is "Wildlife - it's just violence with violins." Although it is very funny it is also very thought-provoking so I thought I would share it with you in essence and see what you think.
Apparently there is a new BBC Wildlife finder web site at which you can click on any animal of your choice and see a short video clip. Skinner did just that with a particularly wise-looking elephant and found himself, a moment later, watching it being mauled to the death by a pride of lionesses. What made it even worse in his eyes was that the clip was accompanied by classical music and the rather hushed voiceover of Sir David Attenborough.
Well, I don't know about you but long ago I decided that I never wanted to see another wildebeest on its migratory route. The poor wildebeest seems to me to be the most preyed upon creature in the African savannah. If it isn't leopards, cheetahs or lionesses hiding in the bushes then it is enormous crocodiles lurking in the river where they cross every migration seemingly oblivious to the awful threats.
As Skinner says - the butchery is really happening. He asks the question should we not allow the animal some dignity in death. On wildlife programmes we often see young animals taken as food by the big cats - yes it is nature red in tooth and claw - but is it really right to watch it, as Skinner says, "with classical music accompaniment as a form of entertainment?"
The really telling point he makes though is that he ponders on what peoples' reactions would be if he were to film his cat catching, killing and tearing to pieces a robin in his garden. Would we view that in the same light or would we consider it voyeuristic - in very bad taste?
I would really like to know what you think?