It’s perhaps one of Western Europe’s biggest hypocrisies. We Europeans are appalled by Trump’s idea of building a wall along the Mexican border.
But we have recently allowed many such walls to be built in our own backyard. All along South-East Europe, borders are now lined by wire fences.
And while Trump’s wall would be aimed at stopping illegal immigrants, ours is there to prevent the entry of refugees, often escaping from wars we helped fight and failed to win, just as we failed to help make their countries stable and prosperous in the process.
The verdict? It would be a disaster. It divides natural habitats and prevents the movement of animals, and increased border patrol is also disruptive to habitats.
Back in Europe, away from the limelight of the US presidential election, our border fences are already wreaking havoc on wildlife. As soon as the fence was built along Slovenia’s border with Croatia, deer started getting caught in it and dying.
And scientists told New Scientist magazine that big animals with large ranges such as bears, wolves and lynx will be affected as the fence divides them up into smaller populations. Seasonally migrating deer are also affected.
But it’s not just big, iconic creatures that are affected. More recently environmentalists have sounded the alarm over the future of one of Europe’s – and indeed the world’s – rarest mammals, Vojvodina mole rats. These curious underground animals happen to be restricted to areas near the Hungarian border with Serbia.
The fence built by Hungarians cuts though one of the mole rats’ key populations, cutting it in two, and increased border patrols disrupt their habitat.
Other examples have undoubtedly gone undetected and unreported by the media. Many of the effects are also likely only to become apparent in the long term.
And that’s saying nothing about the sad fact that we in modern democracies in 21st century Europe have built physical walls to stop other people – civilians, women and children – escaping the ravages of war.
Whoever wins the US election, our shameful ‘Trump wall’ in Europe is here to stay and continue to degrade our wildlife and our standing in the eyes of right-thinking people.