Farm Weka in order to save them?

by frog

An enterprising farmer, Roger Beattie, is proposing that he should be allowed to farm Weka (and presumably Kiwi, etc), for sale to be eaten. Apparently “weka [were] delicious, and made chicken look bland and greasy in comparison.”

That’s all well and good. Maybe they do taste good and maybe there would be a market for them, and maybe it would increase (captive) Weka numbers. Maybe they’ll even submit to sitting in a nice cage, like chickens…

But what I find a bit laughable is Roger’s assertion that farming Weka would benefit the species and save them from extinction:

If we want to make sure wekas are not threatened or endangered we should farm the lot because no farm species has ever died out.

Yeah, that’s worked really well for wolves. They became domesticated, and now there are wolves everywhere! Right? No, actually. Wolves are very endangered in most parts of the world, while a shadow of their former selves do pretty well as dogs.

Imagine this: We set out to farm Weka, so someone makes an inventory of all the wild Weka and chooses a (sub) species that look especially tasty or large or whatever other criteria we prefer. All the other species of Weka get left to go extinct, and may even find that their habitat is reduced to make room for the farmed Weka. We then breed millions of our selected Weka, and over time we favour the traits that make them more suitable to us – bigger breasts, more eggs(??), docile behaviour, tastier meat while eliminating the traits that make them ‘wild’ – aggressive, curious, adaptable, fast runners, loud cries to communicate, whatever. The species changes and becomes weak, they pick up parasites from other farm species, they start to require antibiotics and so on.

Look around you at other domesticated species. Bulldogs that can barely breath, Sheep with so much wool that their shit gets caught in it (leading to death from flies), Alsations with back legs that barely work and vegetables that require daily defence lest they be overrun by wild plants. None of these animals bear any resemblance to the species they are descended from. Do you think your white floppy eared rabbit would survive for 5 minutes in the wild? Does it even know how to have babies without leaving them to starve (ours didn’t. Then some dogs ate it)?

One day we find that we haven’t saved Weka, we’ve enslaved a slow, obese, lazy and dependent decendent of what used to be Wekas.

So sure, go ahead and farm them for their meat if you must (think of the children economy!), but don’t pretend you’re doing the Weka or biodiversity a favour by doing so.

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management by frog on Fri, February 5th, 2010   

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