The “alien” mouflons of Giglio and the claim to treat nature as a museum –

by time news

I confess that I had to read the news twice, as incredible as it seemed to me: from next Monday a team of hunters specially selected by theNational Park Authority of the Tuscan Archipelago will land onIisola del Giglio to tear down all mouflon who have the misfortune of living there. The operation is part of the Life LetsGo Giglio project – “life” means life – created with the aim of improving the quality and natural character of the ecosystem present on the Giglio Island, protecting the habitats and some species that live there. an operation co-financed by the European Union costs taxpayers 1.6 million euros and it is proposed to reduce the rate of introduction of invasive alien species on the Italian territory and mitigate their impacts.

Yes, because mouflons – like humans, after all – are not native to the islet, but were introduced there in 1955, when it was feared that the species was close to extinction. The mouflon, the wild ancestor of our sheep, has been present on the Mediterranean islands for about ten thousand years – but not on the Giglio! – where almost everywhere protected by special laws: in Corsica, for example, hunting is forbidden, in Sardinia it is severely limited, in Cyprus the national animal. To save it we took it to Giglio, but today we realized that an alien species – so we read in the official documents – and therefore must be exterminated.

It must be added that the mouflons do not do any harm to agriculture (in the last 19 years, requests for compensation have been received for a total of 1200 euros) nor to the environment, where a study by the Department of Biology of the University of Florence has shown how they tend to graze in a widespread and non-localized way, without therefore endangering the holm oaks, and indeed helping to contain any fires. According to another study carried out in Sardinia, mouflons can generate habitat imbalances only when they exceed 300-400 specimens per thousand hectares: but at Giglio they are 12-20 per thousand hectares, and in all no more than forty. But since they are not native to the island – I insist: like humans – they must be killed.

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This seems to me a paradigmatic story, which illustrates better than an entire library how far we have gone astray in our relationship with nature. The environment in which we live is not an archaeological museum: a living organism that changes incessantly to adapt to the stimuli and interactions of thousands of different and random factors. Most of the species that have so far appeared on this planet went extinct well before we arrived; all those that populate it today are different than they were half a million years ago and have often changed habitat. Evolution – that is, survival through adaptation – never stops, just like time. And instead we are so foolish as to think that nature is a skeleton or an amphora or a painting, to be kept intact and immutable under a crystal case. And therefore – so we think we reason – since sixty years ago we introduced an alien animal on the lily, now we eliminate it and all happy we rub our hands because in this way we have preserved the environment. But how many other changes have there been from 1955 to today? How many houses have been built, how many insects or birds have settled there, how many cats have been dispersed in the woods? And then, who said that up to 1955 the Giglio was uncontaminated? And what does unspoiled mean? Sometimes I think we’re going crazy. Either we asphalt everything to make ourselves comfortable, or we exterminate the mouflons to save the environment. When will we find some balance, some serenity?

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November 20, 2021 (change November 20, 2021 | 10:45 am)

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