Falkland Island Fox

Blown off course by a fearsome tempest Captain Strong and his men were overjoyed to find the raggedy islands that they would come to christen the Falklands. A boat was put out and as they drove the schooner to the shore, they quickly had to put about for fear of the savage beasts that waded out to feast on their salty flesh.

... hey guys!

Later the weary men braved the shore and made camp, setting fire to the grassy tussocks around them to keep the slathering beasts at bay. The country was ablaze for days, as far as the eye could see, and these monstrous foxes ‘the size of a mastiff’ were always close by, darting away from the flickering flames.

It wasn’t until later that they realised it had all been a terrible mistake, the fox from the Falklands was simply being friendly; wondering what the blazes was going on, what the devil these new big things were on the islands and how on earth they were managing to stand on two feet. Still the good Captain John Strong realised the error of his ways and took one of the convivial canines aboard for the return journey, where it would affably bimble around the boat. Sadly for the amiable chap it was in the mid-Atlantic that he discovered his indifference for loud noises. In a skirmish with the French a loud cannon cracked and the fox promptly hoiked himself overboard never to be seen again.

... Falkland Island Fox: not blessed with an in depth knowledge of Anglo-French naval history...

On many an island there has been found these cosiest of curiosities; creatures unflustered by a sudden influx of famished sailors driven half mad by swigging their own urine. The dodos were said to be delightfully welcoming when man first popped by, going rather well with potatoes and a passable claret didn’t damage their charisma either. In the Galapagos islands a young Charles Darwin was rather put out by a Galapagos hawk, who instead of having to blast the bugger out of a tree with his gun (as was the style of naturalism of the times) simply had to meander up to the arrogant sod and push it out of the tree with the nozzle of said rifle. Time and again man has met these affable island creatures that have evolved with no real need to be afraid of anything.

... aaaah delighted old boy... yes yes you most bob by and see my etchings some time...

It took many years to work out how this big friendly dog had got to these rocky dots way off the coast of Argentina. Had it been brought there as a pet by the infrequent visits of sealers from the mainland? Or perhaps it was a relative of the fox-like culpeo of the mainland? Learned types have since figured out that in fact it’s a relative of the maned wolf, and had diverged from them 6.7million years ago, perhaps arriving on the islands on some sort of land bridge… across a frozen ocean in some icy past. Though it is this foxes more immediate neighbours that perhaps we owe a lot more than we realise. The difference between East and West Island wolves was the first creature Darwin noticed that there was a minute difference between the species, and perhaps that species weren’t stable after all… and one thinks we know where that line of thinking ended up.

... stick me with a knife you say? Well I was going to suggest a game of bridge, but as long as we're together one is sure it'll be delightful!

Indeed it was Mr Darwin who later talked of the beginning of the end for the Falkland Island Fox who remarked that it would soon go the way of the dodo. This ‘foolish dog of the south’ as the locals called it, was gunned down and poisoned in its droves. The natives favoured method of disposing of the poor sods was to hold some meat out in a hand so that the warmhearted wolf would wander up for his meaty treat, only to be stuck with a knife… which is hardly friendly now is it?

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Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment