As we indulge in ever-darkening instant gratifications... life goes on mostly unappreciated in all its glorious, sometimes gory detail

Night falls. Rabbits teem from warrens. The bark of a fox splits the stillness like a scream. Boar usher their young out of the forest into hazel and almond groves. Roe deer glide like spirits through the vineyards and trees. Badgers follow their noses. Pine martens and genets watch and wait on the branches. Mice, rats and shrews, staple prey of the vicious weasel and other killers, slide through the grasses and shadows.

Watching it all are the nocturnal king and queen of the valley. The eagle owls.

It is the other kingdom of life and death, where we came from, stunning in its depth and truths, lit by the moon just outside our doors or beyond our streets. Yet somehow we do not know it, or are frightened of it, or we see it as an irrelevance in a world where there is a staggering imbalance between our power and narcissism and pitiful reasoning and responsibility.

This is their Earth as much as ours, for pity’s sake. From the waste dump oceans to the melting summits, to the bludgeoned lands of Ukraine and everywhere we inhabit and everything we do to accelerate ourselves and this miracle rock towards another mass extinction.

As we indulge in ever-darkening instant gratifications (cage fighting, graphic violence and mass murder marketed as video games) and generally lay waste, life in extraordinary balance out there just beyond the shutters and curtains goes on mostly unappreciated in all its glorious, sometimes gory detail.

Feed on this. Eagle owls are monster predators with a wingspan of up to two metres and vast talons. They will kill other owls, take a young fox or deer but dine mostly on rabbits. They fear nothing. In a fight between an owl and an eagle, bet on the owl. Badgers may have pretty poor black and white eyesight, but their sense of smell is more than 700 times more powerful than a humans. (What? Yep). A shrew, whose heart rate is more than 800 beats a minute, is (relative to size) one of the most ferocious creatures on the planet. God, that is genius.

Anyone with curiosity and/or responsibility (or a degrading thirst for blood or for the kick of their heart pumping) should step out of their comfort zone and experience a natural shiver down the spine. But that is not going to happen, is it? There is a despicable predator out there. Ourselves. Lock your doors and minds while species continue to become extinct and sea levels and temperatures rise.

So, Plan B - start looking for arks, Noah style. I have found a few. For several decades now wise but unsexy scientists have quietly but expeditiously been collecting and freezing animal tissue, cells and DNA. The Frozen Ark Consortium now consists of 22 members across the globe. Yes, the portents and realities are truly that dire.

Anyone smell coffee? Hello?

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