Friday, May 10, 2013

Another News Story to be Commented Upon: Why Vultures Devoured Hiker's Body in Minutes

Why Vultures Devoured Hiker's Body in Minutes

I must really be in a verbose mood yesterday and today, as I keep wanting to put things out there.  This one is gross but that isn't the real point of why I am commenting on it.  I have seen this story on several websites in the last 2 - 3 days and whereas most people feel revulsion by the whole story, I think there is a wider lesson to be discussed.

First off, here are the first couple of paragraphs as written on  (For the entire story, click on either the main title of this post or the line at the top of the entry.)

"A flock of vultures devoured the body of a woman just minutes after she fell to her death while hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. 

The woman, 52, had been hiking with two friends when she fell about 1,000 feet (300 meters) down the side of a steep mountain. Police believed she died from injuries sustained during the fall, the Daily Mail reports.

Vultures are known to be able to sniff out the gaseous chemicals emanating from a dead body more than a mile away.

"When we first went out in the helicopter looking for the body, we saw numerous vultures, without realizing what they were doing," said Maj. Didier Pericou, of the local police, as quoted in the Daily Mail.

But by the time the police reached the body, there was little left to recover.

"There were only bones, clothes and shoes left on the ground," Pericou said. "They took 40 to 50 minutes to eat the body."

The Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) that consumed the body have been under considerable stress, as their primary source of food — the carcasses of cattle or other livestock — are no longer available throughout much of Europe."

Ok the story is gross.  It's not a pleasant thought to be eaten by a vulture.  Though on an interesting side note, for followers of the Zoroastrian religion that is how they traditionally depose of their dead.  However the Zoroastrianism tradition of placing their dead in "towers of silence" and letting vultures come and eat them is ending because in many countries where there are Zoroastrians, vultures are dying off in unprecedented numbers.  (If you are interested, here is a link to an article on the Zoroastrian "Towers of Silence".  Please be aware there are a couple of graphic photos of a Zoroastrian Tower of Silence in the article. Don't read the whole way to the end if you are squeamish. Zoroastrian Towers of Silence)

The key thing I took from reading all of this was the fact that you have an entire species of animal that are so desperate for food that they are beginning to stray from their pre-programmed genetic instincts just to survive.  Think of how desperately hungry those birds must be.  It's utterly horrible what happened to the woman who died.  (I need to make sure everyone understands that!)  But in a world that we humans are recasting as a man made creation, an even greater tragedy is occurring as an entire species is fighting for survival.  What will our world be like if it loses yet another species?  It is really sad to think.  And as much as vultures are gross-looking, scary birds, think of what it must be like to be one of those individuals - starving and finding no food.  The whole story is just a difficult one to read and process but I thought I need to share my thoughts.

The picture below is a Griffon's Vulture, which is the kind that ate the woman in France.  The funny thing is, they aren't that bad looking, they are actually kind of cute.  Usually you think of vultures as the kind that are always shown in movies with bald heads and totally black feathers.  In reality, the kind shown in movies seem to look more like California Condors rather than vultures.

Hope everyone is having a great Friday!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

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