When countries get wealthier, do they necessarily become more environmentally conscious? To what extent is environmentalism a rich man’s luxury?
Mexico City is an anomaly within Mexico, a relatively prosperous haven with practices that differ from the rest of the country. Example: A headline this week announced that animal cruelty can now lead to jail terms of up to four years. Elsewhere in Mexico, like in Ciudad Juarez, it's a different story.
Animal rights activists are also in fine fettle these days in the capital. They believe they will soon convince city fathers to ban bull fighting.
But sometimes prosperity lets people afford to do things they wouldn’t have done previously. That is very clear from the video above, which I was enchanted to see partly because it was done by my friend Jonathan Watts of The Guardian.
The video shows images of the Yawar festivals in the Peruvian Andes. Even though I lived in Peru for years, I never saw one of these festivals, in which people sew the talons of a powerful Andean condor to the back of a bull. In what Jon calls a “gory glory" in his article, the condor flaps its wings madly while the bull tries to buck the bird off.
Peru is no doubt getting more and more prosperous, and it turns out that Andean villagers are capturing more condors and holding more Yawar festivals, up to 55 such festivals a year, according to Jon’s count. After each Yawar festival, the bull is dispatched and the condor set free. But some die. And Peru can hardly afford to lose any of the 300-500 condors left in the wild.