strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Archive for the ‘Kill or Be Killed’ Category

Leopard Stalks Steenbok at Kruger

Posted by Richard Conniff on November 19, 2015

Turn off the sound on this one.  Too much microphone wind.  Or just don’t watch if you are a Friend of Bambi.

Posted in Food & Drink, Kill or Be Killed, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Killing Dinner with Your Own Hands

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 6, 2015

I’ve only done it with fish and lobster, but according to today’s New York Times, killing your own dinner is now a foodist movement. Here’s the lead of the story by Kate Murphy:

COULD you look through a rifle’s scope into the long-lashed eyes of an elk and pull the trigger if it would be the only meat you ate for the year? Would your conscience be more or less troubled if instead you slit the necks of animals you planned to eat after they were nurtured like adored pets on an idyllic farm?

Does the thought of doing either send you to the grocery store or farmers’ market, where neat packages conceal the violence committed on your behalf? Or do you forswear meat altogether?

While the morality of our meals is not a new debate, the polemics have reached a shrill intensity lately as a growing number of people, in an effort to raise their culinary consciousness, have committed to eating only meat they kill themselves. They are unapologetic, although not necessarily unflinching, about the blood on their hands. And they are the latest dietary tribe in our increasingly Balkanized food culture where people align with those who consume as they do and question the emotional, spiritual and intellectual capacities of those who don’t.

Read the whole article here. But I particularly like this bit. It is so gratifying to have deep thinkers to sort out the moral implications of what we eat:

Nor can you treat all meat eaters as savages, said Mr. Sarnecki, who writes and teaches on food ethics. “It might not be morally problematic to eat lobsters because they likely don’t conceptualize the world at all, whereas you might feel differently if the animal were a mammal that probably has a higher level of consciousness,” he said, duly noting, “I draw the line at lobsters because they are delicious.”

Posted in Kill or Be Killed | Leave a Comment »

CSI (and a Poison Pill) for Cats that Kill

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 14, 2015

One of Australia's 15 million feral cats at work on a native marsupial, the  phascogale

One of Australia’s 15 million feral cats at work on a native marsupial, the phascogale

Domestic cats have become notorious in recent years as one of the most destructive invasive species on the planet, now threatening dozens of bird and mammal species with extinction. (That’s on top of the 30 or so species they have already eradicated.) When conservationists are trying to restore a threatened species to its old habitats, a single murderous cat can be enough to destroy the entire project.

Now frustrated scientists in Australia are proposing to apply criminal forensics and even a poison pill to identify and eliminate problem cats—and possibly spare other cats that are innocent of the killing. In a new study in the journal Biological Conservation, they call these experimental techniques “predator profiling.”

A team of researchers led by ecologist Katherine Moseby at the University of Adelaide looked at restoration attempts for what they call “challenging species.” That generally means mammals that are big enough, toothy enough, or just plain mean enough that you might not think the average outdoor cat Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Cool Tools, Kill or Be Killed | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Eagle Says F–k Drones. Skies Now All Clear

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 12, 2015

The hero here is an Australian wedge-tailed eagle, reclaiming the skies for All Birdom (and especially for the ones that are edible)

Posted in Cool Tools, Kill or Be Killed | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

A Clownish Way to Make Outdoor Cats Less Deadly

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 28, 2015


My latest for Takepart:

Stare deeply into a cat’s eyes, and you’ll see the unavoidable truth: It is a sleek, stealthy, killing machine. In the United States, outdoor cats kill billions of birds, amphibians, and small mammals every year. Despite a widespread campaign by environmentalists to persuade people to keep their little killers indoors, many cat owners refuse to do so. A new product from a company called Birdsbesafe won’t entirely fix that problem, but it will help, and two scientific studies suggest that it works. It’s the sort of collar a clown would wear, with a brightly colored frill sticking out all around, making the wearer much easier to see and avoid.

Susan Willson, a Birdsbesafe customer, was hunting around on the Internet when she found the collar. She knew how deadly cats can be. It’s not just that she’s a conservation biologist specializing in birds at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. She’s also the owner of two outdoor cats, and one of them, “the Gorilla,” is especially adept at killing birds. “Obviously, the best thing to do is to keep your cat inside,” Willson said. But when she tried bringing the Gorilla inside, it touched off what she describes as “a peeing war” with her three indoor cats.

“At that point, we couldn’t keep him in,” she said, but euthanizing him Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cool Tools, Environmental Issues, Kill or Be Killed | 3 Comments »

Kingfisher Triumphant

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 27, 2014

kingfisher by Haibo Chi

(Photo: Haibo Chi)

This photo is from the Epson International Pano Awards, a photo contest, and a selection of winners is appearing in the Mail Online.  I think a number of the winners could have competed in the Best Photoshopping category, or maybe The Best Manipulation of a Photograph Beyond Any Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Food & Drink, Kill or Be Killed | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Leopard Attacks Honey Badger, Loses

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 26, 2014

Yesterday the leopard seemed to have the world by the ass.  But today a leopard meets a honey badger, a quarter of its size and ten times as mean. World now has leopard by ass.  Circle of Life and all that.

This sequence also comes from Botswana, by way of Dutch photograher Vincent Grafhorst.  The text is from The Mail Online (Caveat:  I am doubtful about the attribution of that quote to Mark Twain):

An unlucky leopard got more than it bargained for after trying to catch and eat a honey badger.

These pictures show the leopard lamenting its overconfidence when the smaller beast lived up to Mark Twain’s old adage: ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.’

After spotting the badger from a distance, the leopard managed to rush down inside its burrow and drag it outside for what it thought was going to be an easy meal.

But despite catching its prey by the neck, the tough mammal managed to wriggle free thanks to its loose skin.

David and Goliath: An unlucky leopard

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Fear & Courage, Kill or Be Killed | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Don’t Look Now, It’s A Leopard Dive-Bomb

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 25, 2014

I was in the Okavango Delta recently and saw a leopard gracefully climb down a tree, at leisure. 

But this photo and video sequence from the same vicinity is incredible.  It’s by Yasmin Tajik of Shalimar Studios (which is–go figure–a Las Vegas wedding photo outfit; I bet they catch every punch when a cat fight breaks out on the dance floor).

First the video, then the stills, with Tajik’s narration.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Kill or Be Killed | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »

Cormorants Like Fish Ladders, Too.

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 8, 2014

Clever cormorant says, "Howdy" to alewife.

Clever cormorant says, “Howdy” to alewife.


A few weeks ago I wrote about the new fish ladder bringing alewives back to Rogers Lake in Old Lyme.  These devices are built mainly to help fish recover old breeding grounds blocked off long ago by dams.  But the alewives aren’t the only ones to benefit.  In its weekly report on fish-counter results at fish ladders around the state, the Connecticut DEEP recently included this photograph from the fishway at Bunnell Pond in Bridgeport.  Something about the shadow-puppetry character of the photo makes it especially creepy.  Another photo showed Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Kill or Be Killed | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Young and the Wild on the Streets of LA

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 18, 2014

Gopher snake schools juvenile red-tailed hawk on the streets of the city

Gopher snake schools juvenile red-tailed hawk on the streets of the city

I’ve written a few posts lately about wildlife in the city.  Then, last night on Facebook, I  happened to run across this strange photo, taken on December 28 in the middle of Los Angeles, not far from Dodger Stadium.

The photographer was “David A.”  and this account seems to come from a friend:  “It’s hard to say what a hawk was doing tangled up with a snake in the middle of Scott Avenue in Echo Park on Friday afternoon. But David A., who snapped the photo above, and a few other people watched and waited as the serpent and bird of prey were locked in a strange embrace on the pavement near Elysian Park: ‘I thought I heard one person say that they thought the hawk had been run over as it just came down with the snake in the street. It must have just grabbed it. I was there maybe five minutes. In that time, the hawk was in the position pictured and the snake was slowly freeing itself (not so much wrestling). The hawk wasn’t moving much. We stood by to make sure no cars would run them over. Once free, the hawk flew off and seemed to not be harmed. The drama ended with the snake slowly slithering back in the direction of the park,’ David said.”

One Facebook commenter suggested that, in the manner of Hollywood stars drawing unwanted attention, the hawk is saying, “No pictures, please.”

Here’s a more informed explanation by Greg Pauly of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

The posting also brought out this even more spectacular photo Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Kill or Be Killed | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »


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