I have really enjoyed reading ‘Going Native: Living in the Australian environment’ by Michael Archer and Bob Beale (Hodder, 2004). The book promotes the commercial potential of Australian native plants and animals – from kangaroos and koalas to tea-tree oil.
Archer and Beale make an interesting observation on page 142:
“If the natural world is to have a future, we need to understand that the love of animals based on use and dependence has always led to a commitment to conserve.
Indigenous peoples who remain hunter-gatherers have a love and respect for animals, plants and ecoystems that most of us simply do not understand because they, unlike us, are still an indivisible part of the environments upon which they depend.
… Once we build the fence and climbed over it, we lost the plot and threatened the future. The mindset of animal rights advocates who argue against the value of using animals would seem incomprehensible to hunter-gatherers – as it would to the animals themselves if they were somehow able to conceptualize it. To argue, for example, as some animal rights advocates do, that a koala would rather be starving in an eaten-out forest remnant than sold to become an exhibit in a Japanese zoo strikes us not only as absurd but extraordinarily presumptuous. It seems certain to us that the koala would be as willing to chew gum leaves in Tokyo as in Taronga Zoo or Tower Hill.”
I reckon the koala would probably be happier in Tower Hill (western Victoria). But hey, if it was a question of life or death – well even I might move to Tokyo.
There is an organisation with website based on the principles promoted in the book, see http://www.fate.unsw.edu.au/ .