I just went to my final service learning placement for the quarter and I wanted to share some of my observations about the different animals that live around the elementary school where I have volunteered for the past two months.
Firstly, the students eat tons of food during their interval, and accumulate lots of trash. They put all of their garbage on the floor, then when school is in session, there are lots of seagulls that come feast on all of the rubbish. This inspired me to do a bit of research. Are these animals actually benefiting from the garbage left on the ground? Or are these humans causing more harm than good?
There are a TON of different types of seagulls in Cape Town. Here you can read more!
After a bit of research, I noticed that the typical seagull diet is made up of mainly fish, mollusks, and worms. The processed foods that the seagulls would be eating out of the garbage is not good for their digestive system. They can actually die after eating too many flour-based products. This means that the snack foods that the children are leaving on the ground are probably most harmful to the seagulls. That being said, should we worry about the wellbeing of such an abundant animal? There is no shortage of seagulls in Cape Town, and they do not provide a direct benefit to the tourism industry like rhinos and elephants do. This means that there aren't many initiatives currently designed to pick up trash to benefit the seagull population.
This research really made me think about the ethical reasons behind animal conservation foundations. Which animals are important to save and protect? Which animals could we do without? Is it our place to help all animals?
As far as I'm concerned, the trash on the floor is pretty gross, and I think it needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible!