Humans have mixed emotions concerning carnivores. We admire them as beautiful hunters, cosset them as pets, and use their pelts and other products in clothing, medicines and cosmetics. However, they are also responsible for killing us and our livestock, carry disease and compete with us for space and food. While some advocate the conservation of predators such as wolves and tigers, others see them as vermin and want them gone. In this course we will explore the fascinating story of carnivores and our intricate relationships with them. The readings will deal with the wild beauty of carnivores and their conservation, but also with furs and medicine, man-eaters and sheep-killers, explaining in simple terms what the role of carnivores is in nature, how this impacts on human lives, our art and literature, how we instinctively respond to them and why. Individual research projects related to the course material (especially large carnivores worldwide) will be developed and presented by semester’s end.
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