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5 essays about the human-animal bond

In the face of climate change, should you wonder how humans and animals have been living side by side for centuries and how this might affect our future, a few essays recently published by leading philosophers and anthropologists are eye-opening.

Resorting to his experience tracking wolves in the Vercors (France), Baptiste Morizot, through various philosophical novellas, offers relevant insights on animal language and the possibilities of new forms of communication. He draws on animal-human interdependance and the need for human to listen to nature and adapt their future accordingly without preconceived ideas.

Foxes in the gardens of London, wild boars in the streets of Marseille, leopards in the narrow arteries of Bombay: repelled from the countryside which is becoming more and more hostile because of climate change - wild animals have no other choice but to settle in cities and the phenomenon keeps accentuated. What would happen if we had to deal with hordes of animals in cities on a daily basis? The city as we know it was historically thought against wild animals and, more generally, against nature. Welcoming these animals among us seems unthinkable. Reject them, impossible. To exterminate them, both cruel and dangerous. So what can we do?

The essay begins with a terrifying account of the anthropologist Nastassja Martin's nearly fatal run-in with a Kamchatka bear while conducting research in Siberia. Left severely mutilated, she undergoes multiple operations in a provincial Russian hospital. Back in France, she comes to the conclusion that she must return to Kamchatka. She must discover what it means to have become, as the Evens people call it, a miedka, a person who is not only human but beast. That is the only way for her to continue her work as an anthropologist and to reconstitute herself as person.

What is the territorial instinct of birds? Vinciane Despret, philosopher of science, met ornithologists to understand how certain birds create their territory. During her investigation, she demonstrates that the notion of territorialization is much more complex than it seems, and she sheds fresh light on the ways that birds construct their worlds. Mixing philosophy, science and poetry, Vinciane Despret invites us to diversity our perspectives. By attending carefully to the ways that birds construct their worlds, she enables us to become more aware of the multiple modes of existence that characterize the planet we share with other species.

In the heart of the Massif des Ecrins, a great white wolf and a shepherd will confront each other, passionately, to their last limits. Jean-Marc Rochette celebrates once again the high mountains, its beauty, its violence, the commitment and humility that it takes to survive there.

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