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suffering in nature
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Author:  thomas [ Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  suffering in nature

I promote veganism and animal rights because I don't want the animals to suffer. In my opinion it makes no difference why somebody is suffering. So some time ago I started thinking about wild living animals. Their suffering is something that seems almost completely ignored or forgotten by most animal rights activists. In my opinion it is one of the most important concerns. For a simple reason: there are much much more animals in the wild than in factory farms.

And nature is cruel. Animals in the wild suffer from many things like predation, disease, parasites, injuries, cold, starvation, stress and more. Many animals give birth to hundreds or thousands of offspring hoping a few of them live long enough to grow up fully.

So what could be done to help them? Helping farm animals is relatively easy, go vegan and convince others of doing the same. But nature is very complex and very few people care about the suffering of wild living animals. So I think the best thing we can do today is to promote the idea that they also need our help (at least within the animal movement) and that helping them also belongs to animal rights. And then scientists, ecologists, biologists and other people will deal with that question and find the answers.

Our ethics concerning humans and human rights do not end with the abolition of slavery, so why should our ethics concerning animals?

'Many humans look at nature from an aesthetic perspective and think in terms
of biodiversity and the health of ecosystems, but forget that the animals that
inhabit these ecosystems are individuals and have their own needs. Disease,
starvation, predation, ostracism, and sexual frustration are endemic in so-called
healthy ecosystems. The great taboo in the animal rights movement is that
most suffering is due to natural causes.'
- Albert, in Nick Bostrom's "Golden"

Author:  Cobie [ Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

While I can see where you come from, may I suggest that you consider what you mean by "suffering" of wild animals? Natural systems, left to themselves, will always involve what you call "suffering". However, some of what you include in that term is inappropriate, as is the term "suffering" itself which implies that the animals subjected to it have insight in what is happening to them and can appreciate it with insight. However, such self-reflection and awareness may be uniquely human. If we consider physical discomfort or pain, however, that is something humans share with animals - the pain system at least in vertebrates is shared by all since unlike what many humans think, pain is not a negative sensation, it is a powerful trigger for the recruitment of survival mechanisms - in particular, activation of the autonomic sympathetic nervous system to take the inflicted individual away from the painful stimulus, and marshall the defense systems of the body; and once away, the need for healing and marshalling the body's resources for this purpose. One such system, for instance, is the release of endorphins in the brain that moderate the transmission of pain-evoked activity so that the animal feels the pain less (something also described by humans, the classical example being that of the explorer Stanley when attacked by a lion and when thinking he was going to die - he described how the pain went and was replaced by feeling of acceptance; before nature documentaries were sanitised and when they still included footage of kills, a similar effect was often seen in the victim when it no longer could get away, a sudden stop of activity and what seemed a death free from the powerful stimulus of pain). As for death of numerous offspring, this is an evolutionary strategy that is well understood. To increase the change of offspring surviving, you can either produce a lot of them, offspring that matures rapidly and gets little parental investment individually, or you can produce only one or a few at the time but then invest a lot in them. Rats do the first, humans, apes and monkeys and most large animals the latter, and in this, there seem to be certain rules (do a search for K and R ratios of offspring). There is nothing that you can do about that kind of "natural" suffering; moreover, if all a rat's offspring survived then in very little time there would be no room for any other living thing, including more rats). As for disease, that also is part of nature. Healthy well-fed animals not subject to extreme stress will not easily become sick, but old and stressed or malnourished ones will - and before the advent of modern medicine, this was true of humans in Western society as well ( read Sapolski for interesting material on stress and health in social primates).

That said, humans can cause damage to wild animals - by putting them under pressure through loss of habitat, uncontrolled killing (as opposed to controlled hunting), and by bringing diseases of ourselves and of our domestic species into wild populations (polio and influenza to wild apes, canine distemper to wild dogs, rinderpest (now eradicated thru vaccination, hip hip hooray!!! to wild ungulates) and food deprivation. It is here where you and all of us can help, by supporting conservation, thinking about our own consumprtion patterns, support of scientific research into wildlife, agriculture and livestock farming, etc. That may include rethinking veganism, BTW. Science has shown that mixed farming (and also, not organic farming!) can feed the most for the least amount of land.... and it also includes accepting that genetically modified foods are not a work of the devil but can help to feed more for less, thus saving a bit of the world for nonhumans.

Author:  thomas [ Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

This is a great article: Should We Help Free Animals?

It deals with several possible objections and comes to the conclusion that we should help them.

Author:  Fosgate [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

thomas wrote:
This is a great article: Should We Help Free Animals?

It deals with several possible objections and comes to the conclusion that we should help them.


You did read and understand Cobie's response, right? If not, it would behoove you to do so.

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

If we protect the prey from the predator then we harm the predator and cause suffering because they will starve, but if we allow the predator to eat the prey suffers, but if we save the prey the predator ... but the prey ... throughout infinity.

There are parasites that are food for something else. There are predators which are prey for something else. There are diseases and accidents associated with life. Thus, the only way to prevent all suffering is to kill all life and be done with it.

Author:  thomas [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

Wayne Stollings wrote:
If we protect the prey from the predator then we harm the predator and cause suffering because they will starve, but if we allow the predator to eat the prey suffers, but if we save the prey the predator ... but the prey ... throughout infinity.

Yes. Helping free living animals can be very difficult. And I don't have a good answer to the predator/prey problem. That is exactly why I suggested that we need biologists, ecologists and other scientists who deal with questions like this. There are many hard problems in the past that we have answers for today. I know some ecologists and I don't know why they shouldn't find at least some practical ways to help free animals.

Author:  Donnie Mac Leod [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

Pain & Suffering are two of the healthiest motivators in nature. Without that motivation animals would not learn another important tool within survival. FLIGHT from the jaws of starvation,tooth & claw or a loosing proposition in the ability to mate because you are getting your butt whipped by a bigger & stronger Buck or Bull. Nature needs such motivation in order to create more healthy species even though individual animals are wounded, crippled or killed in the process.

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

thomas wrote:
Wayne Stollings wrote:
If we protect the prey from the predator then we harm the predator and cause suffering because they will starve, but if we allow the predator to eat the prey suffers, but if we save the prey the predator ... but the prey ... throughout infinity.

Yes. Helping free living animals can be very difficult. And I don't have a good answer to the predator/prey problem. That is exactly why I suggested that we need biologists, ecologists and other scientists who deal with questions like this. There are many hard problems in the past that we have answers for today. I know some ecologists and I don't know why they shouldn't find at least some practical ways to help free animals.


Assuming there ARE practical ways to help free animals avoid suffering without creating more suffering or ecological problems in the process. There seems to be an assumption of that existing as the basis for action, but there is no such existing ability.

Author:  Ann Vole [ Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

The biggest stress-inducing and disease-inducing aspect of wildlife is the loss of habitat. The only way to let the wild stay wild is to quit buying agricultural products. There is only one way of doing that; grow your own food at home. It is totally in your power to improve the lives of wildlife. In the mean time, wildlife has learned to live in urban environments... you can help those resourceful animals by making your unused land to be appropriate for wildlife.

Author:  Archer2 [ Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

Do the world a favor, then, and put yourself between a lion and a cape buffalo.

Author:  tommee [ Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

Archer2 wrote:
Do the world a favor, then, and put yourself between a lion and a cape buffalo.



Better to put one self between the hunter and the hunted and let the wildlife sort it out between themselves.

I find Turkey hunters are the thickest.

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

tommee wrote:
Archer2 wrote:
Do the world a favor, then, and put yourself between a lion and a cape buffalo.



Better to put one self between the hunter and the hunted and let the wildlife sort it out between themselves.

I find Turkey hunters are the thickest.


Good way to wind up with an extra hole or two in your body if one is not careful.

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

Does not cover completely does it?

Author:  tommee [ Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

never been shot at in all the years I have sabbed. 8)

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: suffering in nature

You do not have to be shot at to be punctured. Of course, your idea of hunting is different than what we know. Get too close to a buck in rut with or without a weapon and you can be attacked.

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