Recently a dear friend came by for dinner and among other discussions I brought up the Alsatian Hamster. I was really serious, because the animal is another example for the complexity of environmental issues. It faces extinction, because the Alsatian farmers have switched production of cabbage, which left space for the lupin, the animal’s diet, to corn the gas-guzzler’s new, “green” diet. Well the idea of “Save the Hamster” cracked up our friend big time and any attempt at reintroducing the focus on bio-fuels into a reasonable discussion went out of the window. Why is that? The Alsatian hamster looks a lot like a oversized and overweight rat with a stubbed-nose. No panda bear and definitely not “Knut” or “Flocke” the more than cute polar bear cubs. So the Alsatian hamster has to fend for itself, well, it has the European Commission on its side, like so many animals whose looks range from ugly, to outright weird or disgusting.
“The Independent” has a heart for the ugly and names a few:
The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat: With a name like that you could end up in a magazine of Luna Lovegood’s father. It is endangered, because of changes in farming and because species like the Dingo have been introduced into it’s habitat.
The Saiga Antelope: Nice body, but look at the nose! The male’s horns are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine making them the target for poachers. Do I want to know what the horns are used for? No.
Long-beaked echidna: This one is a long shout from the cute little hedgehog you can find in your garden. Current threats include hunting with specially trained dogs and loss of forest habitat to logging, mining and farming.
Giant Salamander or “hellbender”: Not so lovingly called “snot otters” or “devil dog”, too. Their habitat is endangered from pollution. They need clean clear water to thrive. The sheer size of them (up to six feet) makes them quite impressive indeed.
The Solenodon: As well as having a poisonous bite a solenodon has glands in the armpits and in the groin, which give off a goat-like smell. The poor wretch doesn’t have much going for it, the introduction of cats, dogs and mongoose sounded the death-knell for them.
The Aye-Aye: This one’s a victim to its own appearance. It is considered an evil omen and killed on the spot if happened upon by locals in Madagascar. The disappearance of the rain forest its natural habitat clinches the raw deal. Have a look at the links! Every single one of these creatures has something going for it, if only making the world a more interesting place.