Horry

喜歡看書,旅遊、跑步、爬山, 因為這些都是讓我認識世界的途徑。 http://horrypong.wordpress.com

無處不在的長頸鹿公仔;無處容身的長頸鹿

  • 看到大西洋月刊刋登了一篇題為"The Last Giraffes on Earth“的報導,看到這麼聳動的標題時心裏已經覺得這是「標題黨」技倆,但最終我還是擋不住好奇心而打開了文章連結,難怪連大西洋月刊這麼老派的傳媒也要走「嘩眾取寵」的路線了(誤)。
  • 但撇除搶眼球的標題外,整篇文章倒是讓我看得趣味盎然︰要故事有故事、要資訊有資訊,作者也藉此文清晰地傳達出重要訊息──儘管長頸鹿的形像深入民心,我們卻甚少覺得長頸鹿正處於瀕臨絶種的狀況,但不幸地這正是牠們面臨的危機。
  • 和其他野生動物一樣,對長頸鹿構成最大威脅的是人類,當中包括直接而可見的威脅(人類獵殺長頸鹿作為食材),以及較迂迴但影響更大的間接威脅(人為造成的氣候暖化、適合長頸鹿生活的環境被大肆破壞)兩種。
  • 解決的辦法包括透過立法禁止捕獵、加強公眾教育、設立和統整保育區(保育區太零碎也會無補於事,所以需要將它們整合)、人為地將長頸鹿遷移至更適合生長的野外地區、建立人類與野生動物互惠共存的機制(如發展生態遊好讓當地居民體會到保護動物的同時也在保護自己的利益)。
  • 為了瞭解長頸鹿所面臨的威脅,科學家們開始在長頸鹿身上安裝GPS,以追蹤牠們的足跡,而要在一頭動輒高19尺、重1500磅的動物身上安裝GPS自然不是一件易事,作者便曾跟隨團隊(接近20人!)認識相關的追逐過程,並形容"This is harder than it sounds, and it sounds hard."。文章內對這過程有生動的描寫,同時雜誌也提供了短片紀錄捕捉和安裝GPS的過程︰
  • 片中約5:10處拍攝了一隻剛完成GPS安裝過程的長頸鹿,只見牠悠悠站起,接著前腿一揚、後腿用力一蹬,龐大的身軀就如蓄滿能量的彈簧般向前彈出,然後繼續以輕盈的姿態揚長而去,整個動作流暢優雅,難怪科學家Sara Ferguson形容"It’s my favorite part every time to see them up and running"
  • 原來長頸鹿的頸可以長達7尺,而頸及頭加起來可以重達600磅,比起一隻成年黑熊還要重。和人類一樣,牠的頸部同樣是由7塊頸脊骨組成(!),當然長頸鹿的每一塊骨頭便比起人類的長很多。每一塊頸脊骨都以關節連接,所以長頸鹿的頸部能如鱷魚般前後彎曲揮動,雄性長頸鹿在求偶期間便不時揮動這條柔韌但有力的長頸撞向「情敵」。
  • 好的文筆及構思角度很重要(廢話),文中作者不時引領讀者代入長頸鹿中來體會科學家們與牠進行追逐及安裝GPS的過程;文內也有不少獨特的描寫,令一篇本來平淡無奇的科學報導變得生動有趣起來。以下是一些我很喜歡的描寫︰
The giraffe—an emblem of verticality—is now fully horizontal.
In 2010, eight times as many Sophie the Giraffe teething toys were sold in France alone as there are actual remaining giraffes. In 2016, the number of Britons who watched a giraffe kick a lion in Planet Earth II exceeded the giraffe population by more than a hundredfold. That same year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reclassified the giraffe as “vulnerable” to extinction.
Imagine you are one of these giraffes. You are the tallest thing for miles. Everything about you defies gravity. Your hips and shoulders are level with the tops of many acacia trees, which to shorter mammals are the world’s ceiling. Your head rises 19 feet into the air. As your sharp gaze sweeps over vast swaths of savannah, you see five jeeps driving toward you.
Imagine what a shock it would be to be that giraffe, to come to in a posture that you haven’t experienced since you dropped out of your mother and first got to your feet. Whatever was fogging your senses has cleared, but your eyes are still covered. You lash out with a hoof, connecting with nothing but air. A loud drilling noise rumbles through your skull, and you lash out again. Your vision returns. You lift your head, snake your neck upward, and rise to your proper place—upright, aloft, above all things.

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