Sunday 4 December 2016

Encroaching on our fellow creatures' natural habitats

Published 04/11/2015 | 02:30

A magnificent red deer stag
A magnificent red deer stag

There are roads in the low glens of Tipperary so wayward that you will only find them via willpower and a belligerent determination to get lost. There are hidden copses so secluded that human ramblings feel like a vaguely criminal act, such is the clamour of animal life thriving there.

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It was while driving in such a place that my mother and I met the stag. Rounding a bend we found his still and soaring bulk had swallowed up the width of the road. We swerved. He leapt. Accident was averted. The beast was gone.

It was one of those breathless encounters with the natural world that is as startling as the realisation of your own mortality: a reminder that this land you grow to develop a sense of ownership towards is shared with creatures whose pathways through it are as ancient as the soil and stone they're cut from.

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