The animal kingdom: wild and wonderful, isn't it? Except when you're faced with a hungry tiger after you've strayed off the beaten path a little bit. Not so wonderful then, is it? Let's see you call it 'wonderful' then!
But let's just say that we're just talking around the table in your local, out-of-the-way public house on a Sunday afternoon - or an evening - and someone brings up the subject of endangered animals - you might want to think about this question:
"Do endangered animals actually realise they are endangered?"
I suspect they don't, and the carefree way some of them carry on, it's no wonder they are on the brink of extinction! I mean, living out there in the wilds of Africa, for example, it doesn't take much imagination to see why the white rhinoceros has almost disappeared from sight. Red-hot daytime temperatures, followed by freezing-cold nights - why, it'll be the death of them!
What about Giant Pandas? They are careless to the point of being 'cavalier' about their future. They just sit around nibbling bamboo in China all day - and night! - as if everything in Giantpandaworld were 'hunky-dory'! They ought to wake up and smell the coffee!
Tigers, too, are in danger, everywhere they currently exist. Are they bothered? Well, you wouldn't think so, the way they advertise themselves in 'gaudy orange-and-black'. It's as if they're taunting their hunters:
"Here I am! Over here, in orange-and-black. Have a potshot!"
It beggars belief!
Obviously, these creatures don't seem to be aware of the precarious nature of their continued survival in our glossy natural history books. If they were, they would change their habits, wouldn't they?
Again, I think not. They're all a determined bunch of so-and-so's, aren't they? They haven't been carrying on like this for millions of years just to be told by 'cocky' upstarts like me how to conduct their daily lives, have they? They know best - or, at least, they think they do.
With just a few minor adaptations to their behaviour, diet and habitat, most of the species on the 'endangered animals' list would be fine, but there again, most seem either unaware, or unwilling to try.
To illustrate the seeming nonchalance of some of these endangered animals, consider, as I have, the case of the Yangtze Finless Porpoise. In 2006, the Baiji dolphin, one of two types of dolphin then living in China's Yangtze River, was declared functionally extinct. This was the first time in history that an entire species of dolphin had been wiped off the planet because of human activity. Its close cousin, the Yangtze Finless Porpoise, has a level of intelligence comparable to that of a gorilla, and is known for its mischievous smile. But, bearing in mind that there are only about 1,000 of these animals left alive, you might reasonably ask yourself:
"What has the Yangtze Finless Porpoise got to smile mischievously about?"
A furrowing of its brow might be better. Or a concerned pout.
I strongly recommend that some of these animals take their impending extinction rather more seriously. If they do, and they are prepared to make the effort, there are ways and means by which they might be saved. If not, I'm afraid they're going the way of the Dodo.