Man's Dominion

Environmental Destruction

These recent paintings illustrate one of my ways of dealing with the appalling destruction of environments and wild life that humans are presently causing. It is not new. It has been happening throughout history.

A few examples:

The Assyrians wrote of the many thousands of Asiatic Lions they hunted to prove their prowess. That hunt continued through the following 2700 years. Now fewer than 200 remain in the Gir Forest in India and are expected to be extinct in the wild in 20 years.
The last African Cape Lion was Killed in 1865 and the last of the largest lion, Panthera leo leo, or Barbary Lion of Roman Coliseum fame was shot in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco in 1922.

The Romans affected many areas around the Mediterranean through intensive agriculture and more recently the Europeans exterminated most of their larger animals by felling the forests including those that covered most of the British Isles. The last British wolf was killed in Scotland about 1750.

In 1805 in America Lewis and Clark reported unending herds of Elk, Antelope and Bison, with the accompanying predators and smaller animals, covering the vast western prairies. By 1880 over 75 million American Buffalo hides had been traded leaving only 300 animals alive. The wolves, grizzlies, Elk antelope and hundreds of millions of other animals had also gone. The North American grizzly, which is now confined to areas of the Pacific Northwest, used to roam over most of Western North America as far south as Texas and Mexico.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic the European Bison or Wisent was reduced to a total of 6 animals in 1923. Fortunately a society was formed to breed from these remaining animals and save them from extinction.

However even that destruction has seen a horrific acceleration in the past fifty years. In the earth’s last wilderness areas many animal species that numbered in the hundreds of thousands, or millions, at the beginning of the twentieth century can now be counted in the dozens world wide. Lesser species become extinct every day. It is probable that we have reduced larger animal numbers worldwide by 98% over the past one hundred years.
Zoologists believe that approximately 4,300 species of mammals currently exist within a framework of between 3 and 10 million life forms. It is thought that over the normal span of time 10 species of life form became extinct every 1000 years.

It is believed that we are presently loosing up to 100 species of plants and animals a day and that within the next 30 years most of the larger species will be extinct in the wild.
“ There have, of course, been a number of extinction spasms in the past: the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and the giant mammals at the end of the Ice Age 15,000 -10,000 years ago, are examples. Whatever the catastrophes that befell and exterminated those species, there is no question what catastrophe is the cause of the present extinctions. Humankind is the catastrophe. We are the catastrophe that is presently destroying our Earth and our home.

Onithoptera Priamus

Priam’s Birdwing

This is the most widespread of the birdwings having 14 identified subspecies, which range through many different habitats. They are found in New Guinea, the islands East to the Solomons and northeast Queensland. The subspecies tend to be localized and are usually named for the island or area in which they are found. They vary in size but are nearly all green to blue green with a black bar across the forewing. Priamus Celestei is turquoise blue, but the Priamus Urvillianus from New Britain and the Solomon Islands is uniquely dark blue and black.

Priamus was fist described in 1717 although no examples were captured until 1758.

It is named after Priam, King of Troy and father of Hector, Paris and Cassandra.

The subspecies vary considerably in size:

  • The males have wingspans from 8cm up to 17 cm.
  • The females have wingspans from 11 cm up to 20 cm.

It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’

Priamus Carved
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Acrylic on birch ply & bass wood

h 24" x w 38"
61 cm x 96.5 cm