Wednesday, April 21, 2010

real crocodile tears

John Thorbjarnarson is dead at 52.

His name probably does not mean much to readers of Mexico blogs.

It should.

John was an advocate for endangered species.  More accurately, a specific species.

Not the noble beasts that star in most fund-raising advertisements.  You know the cast.  Whales.  Elephants.  Pandas.  Animals that could raise more money than Margaret Keane's doe-eyed children.

John chose a less lovable group.  Crocodilians: alligators, caimans, crocodiles.

I suspect that most people feel that he chose the Big Bad Wolf over Little Red Riding Hood.

And that is easy to understand.  We have a visceral response to crocodiles -- that death is awaiting us just beneath the still waters.

John taught people around the world that crocodiles were not to be feared and killed. 

Respected?  Certainly.  Any animal with a large mouth, big teeth, and a desire to snack on something more substantial than tofu salad should be given  wide (and wise) berth.  But certainly not hunted to extinction.

And that was the danger.  Fear led to slaughter. 

He had some effect.  In China. In Venezuela.  In Thailand.

I thought of his dedication the other day as I hobbled around the malecon behind my house looking at what my land lady and her crew had accomplished on our small inlet of Melaque's laguna..

Many hours of hard work.  And results.

By opening up that small area, new birds have started visiting.  A fish hawk -- looking for dinner where precariously even his "eagle eyes" could not have spotted any movement.  A limpkin -- who now has plenty of shore to find Mexican escargot.  And fish -- of all sizes.

But there may be even better news.  A construction crew is building a new house on the other side of the inlet.  (pumping the house)  They have watched our work, and have decided to join in making their part of the laguna a better place.

The photograph at the top of this post shows what they have done.

Almost as if one good idea spawned another.

If our other neighbors would show a similar spirit of community, we could at least save a portion of the laguna's diversity.

John Thorbjarnarson would have been pleased.  Our effort is not a lot.  But it is a start.

And I hope our crocodile can spare a smile for him.


Joe S. said...

The culprit was falciparum malaria.
Didn't you blog on this at some time???

el jubilado said...

Rather than cut-n-paste the whole article

Crocodiles in the Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve
John Thorbjarnarson
Costalegre Mexico

Anonymous said...

So did you just get your 4-week old Economist? Back then they ran an interesting obituary on him.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where dangerous reptiles are definitely NOT a problem

Steve Cotton said...

Joe -- I didn't post on him earlier. But I am glad you added the malaria angle. I was going to raise it if someone asked. But you were first -- and with the answer.

El Jubilado -- Great article -- nice connection with our part of Mexico.

Kim -- I started writing the piece last week -- when my three-week old Economist arrived.