We no longer see the wild, we dream of it. It’s an age-old fascination, visible in the paintings of the Chauvet Cave. But this dream is today disappearing, vanishing in factory smoke and industrial smog.
The Jungle Book
Life first appeared on Earth 4 billion years ago. Traces of this primitive life are now few and far between. But some can still be found in the heart of the Amazon jungle, starting with the lichens which helped form the Earth’s soil. Or with the role of astonishing fungi, a tangle of spreading roots, the birth of plants and, later, the rise of trees and forests. Life on Earth came about through these plants, and these mushrooms. Subsequently, came the pioneers of animal life: reptiles, birds and mammals. A time of insects, a time of monkeys, of tools and culture. The Amazonian Jungle Book contains every chapter of life on Earth. Every species lives alongside all the others.
When man appeared, nothing would be the same again. A being with insatiable curiosity, capable of representing the world, of painting its image on cave walls. Above all, man proved to be mystical. His awareness of life and death was a heavy burden. And this mysticism would lead him to sacrifice life itself. And yet human civilisation owed its unstoppable rise to every other living being: domesticated plants and animals propelled mankind ever upwards and onwards… to the extent of changing the face of planet Earth.
From the end of the wild…
7 billion men, and their domesticated animals, have pushed back the frontiers of the wild world. Only isolated pockets still subsist, nature “reserves”, where the last of the big wild animals are safeguarded. This nature exerts an odd fascination over mankind, capable, as it is, of both protecting and massacring it. But caught between the loss of natural habitats and poaching, wildlife is on the brink of extinction. Its very rarity has almost become the object of speculation.
…to the end of Man
Carried away by incredible technological progress, boosted by finance, Man has turned his back on nature almost to breaking-point: pesticides, GMOs, climate change… we are now facing the possibility of a Sixth Extinction on a planetary scale.
A plea for respect
The next revolution will be neither technological nor political. Perhaps it will quite simply involve respect, a sense of ethics, and love for other life-forms. We may come to remember that wild-life is not opposed to our civilisation. “Wild” merely designates the inhabitants of the forest. What if a renewed respect for wild-life could ultimately make us more human?