There are many examples of invasive species colonising new territories.1 Writing about the UK’s Japanese Knotweed challenge doesn’t have the same buzz as Florida’s Burmese Pythons, though the storyline is the same.2 Japanese Knotweed was brought into the UK as a decorative plant and ‘escaped’. Likewise Florida’s Burmese Python was also an exotic ‘pet’. The impact of an invasive species is enormous.3 Florida’s mammals are in sharp decline because of the python’s voracious appetite and huge population.
A Japanese Knotweed is very visible, which makes it easier to destroy, unlike Florida’s Burmese Python,
“Although the low detectability of pythons makes population estimates difficult, most researchers propose that at least 30,000 and upwards of 300,000 pythons likely occupy South Florida, and that this population will only continue to grow.”4
Hunting in the USA is a long-standing pastime. Hunting pythons is a new business opportunity,5 and it’s marketed as fun and a public duty.
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Join Professional Guide Charles ‘Skeeter’ Holland and experience a trip of a lifetime! Sharing his craft with you will make your time here a memorable experience. Having consistent hunting success with Florida Python hunting involves a team effort coordinated well with land management, scouting and highly experienced hunting guides. Book your trip today and join us for an incredible hunt!”6
Invasive exotica is well known and understood. Global travel means we’re in David Attenborough’s One World. The Covid-19 pandemic is another example of this familiar storyline. This invasive species is a virus which slaughters human victims. It’s therefore more fearful than a python which ‘merely’ causes the extinction of mammals. Small mammals went first in Florida and now there have been cases of pythons swallowing whole deer as the easily available food supply disappears.7
Florida’s Burmese Pythons appear to be very different to Covid-19 but they’re the same narrative. An unprotected population meets a new enemy without a mechanism to resist. This isn’t a reductionist point, despite its simplicity. Human ecology isn’t separate to the living world and is subject to the same stresses as other flora and fauna.
1 For a short list of animals and insects see Invasive Species: 17 Examples From Around The World✔️ (safarisafricana.com) For plants in the UK see Seven of the most invasive plants in the UK – CEL Solicitors
2 “Japanese knotweed was originally brought to the UK as a decorative plant given its pretty white flowers which bloom in warm spring and summer. However, this plant is incredibly invasive and it is estimated that Japanese knotweed costs the UK economy £166m per year.”
7 Pythons Eating Through Everglades Mammals at ‘Astonishing’ Rate? (nationalgeographic.com) “Raccoon observations dropped by 99.3 percent, opossum by 98.9 percent, and bobcat by 87.5 percent. The scientists saw no rabbits or foxes at all during their surveys.” The surveys were done in the period 2003-11