When Nature Attacks - A Warning

At about this time of year, when we venture out in great numbers, some birds have been taking matters into their own hands and out of ours. Resorts report that seagull attacks have increased on the promenades for a few years now. Slowly, it appears, our winged foe are getting the upper hand.

For thousands of years, our species has done what appears to be its best to eradicate all the other animals that fight for space and sustenance on this little blue planet called Earth. We have spread over the land like a virus and have shown little regard for anything that has been unwise enough to get in our way, particularity if they take up a lot of space or are delicious once cooked. Sometimes we have not even had the decency to cook them before eating. Sometimes we haven't even waited 'till they are dead. When we have wanted to assert our dominance by making lunch out of something that was busy having ITS lunch, humankind has spared not a thought and got right on with the murdering and the masticating.

Animals have done little to stem the slaughter that has emanated from us like ripples on a pond from a dropped pebble. Until now.

Our reputation as the consummate killer of consumables precedes us. Just the smell of us is enough to make the largest of animals take fright. In their tiny, beastly brains they associate Man with death. They have learned that in order to have a chance of staying alive past dinner time, it is best to flee when they get a waft of our special scent up their hooters. What they have failed to do is to think laterally. That is what separates us from the animals - our ability to think outside of the box. This is why we humans have velcro shoe closures and 2in1 shampoos. In comparison with those achievements, an animal's ability to lick its own bottom seems like small beer.

If animals thought laterally, they would quickly realise that the modern, comfortable, doughy human could be bested by simply ganging up on us. Your average bird weighs about the same as a thought. Its size is magnified by the application of feathers. Underneath they are puny indeed, but they come with a variety of attacking implements that could send us running for safety, if they thought to use them on us en masse. Birds have been wary of us for such a long time, they appear to have forgotten their pre-historic tendencies: group attack works best to fell larger prey.

Most lumpen, clumsy, slow reacting humans could fend off an attack from one agitated seagull. Even two determined birds might be dealt with successfully, if our dinner was at stake, but a cloud of furious, squawking, scratching and pecking gulls could take the chips out the hands of any human alive.

There are pockets of realisation popping up all over the animal kingdom that in order to redress the balance in favour of the lower orders of life, they just need to relinquish their fear of us. That fear was inbred to save them from our agile and ruthless ancestors. Our forbears had no curry takeaways or frozen nuggets to satisfy their cravings. If they were hungry, they had to kill something and they were pretty good at it due to their strength, cunning and team work. Modern humans are not those people any more. We would flee the house if a squirrel set foot in our lounge, and belatedly, the animal kingdom seems to be realising this.

At about this time of year, when we venture out in great numbers, some birds have been taking matters into their own hands and out of ours. Resorts report that seagull attacks have increased on the promenades for a few years now. Slowly, it appears, our winged foe are getting the upper hand.

Take for example the heart-rending tale of a blameless teenager in Newquay. I will call him Joe because that is his name. Joe was about to partake of that traditional, local Cornish delicacy: a slice of peperoni pizza, when he was assailed by a sea gull in a frontal attack. Sharp thinking Joe, abetted by his youthful speed and agility, pulled the savoury fodder from his adversary's grasp, only to be blind-sided by its flapping chums who were waiting behind him for that very purpose. This is a worrying development. Now they are working together and planning their assaults. Locals describe the gulls as travelling in gangs and using pincer movements to snare their prey. They are the hoodie versions of the avian world.

They have also conspired to disrupt Her Majesty's Postal Service. A nice lady in Eastbourne has had all deliveries suspended pending the abeyance of airborne assaults upon the P.O.'s staff carrying mail to her address. At the Glastonbury festival, great gangs of malevolent gulls swooped down and overwhelmed befuddled concert goers to ensnare their nutburgers and make off with their falafels.

Glasto goers and delivery persons are easy pickings - the former were probably stoned out of their gourds and the latter might not think it a part of their job description to fight off nature's fury just to deliver a post card from Porthcawl, but fully alert teenagers should have provided sterner competition. That they now apparently do not should cause great concern to the human race.

Small animals are beginning to realise that we modern humans are not the fearsome rival that we used to be. Now that we have conquered the world, we no longer are panicked at the thought of becoming something else's lunch when we venture out to the shops. Now that we feel we have nothing to fear, we have become idle and slothful and passive.

We have also become rather scared of getting involved with an animal of any size that appears to want to show us harm. Fauna are finally getting that. If birds were to gang up on us humans, they would need about three per person to overcome us. There are six billion people on earth and about 400 billion birds. That's almost seventy birds for each person. They'd go straight for our eyes, you know, and if they orchestrated a fully co-ordinated attack at first light, they would probably be enjoying the contents of our fridges by noon.

There is no time to lose. If the human race does not address this increasingly alarming issue and stop these hostile interlopers, we will have had our chips. Or rather, they will.


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