Animal Highjinks




Yes, just as polar bears are dying due to climate change or global warming, scientists are keen to breathe life into mammoths. It might be easier to clone mammoths than to work out how to stop the ice from melting.  I can only wonder where they intend to keep these mammoths once they have been reincarnated.

But then of course – we could breed them in woolly mammoth farms and eat them!

The long-extinct woolly mammoth could be brought back to life within four years after a breakthrough in cloning technology by Japanese scientists.  

Researchers have tried unsuccessfully in the past to recover nuclei in cells from the skin and muscle tissue of mammoths found frozen in permafrost, The (London) Daily Telegraph reports.

The attempts failed because the cells were too damaged by the extreme cold.

However, a technique pioneered by Dr Teruhiko Wakayama of the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology has succeeded in cloning a mouse from the cells of another, which had been frozen for 16 years.

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Horror of horrors! I always feared that hunted animals might strike back! Ha Ha.

Well now foxes have taken up arms and are making a stand! Read more




Oh dear, will this killing ever stop? First we have foxes shooting men and now it’s cocks stabbing men to death! It’s criminal!

Thirty-five year-old Jose Luis Ochoa died in Los Angeles after being stabbed in the right calf by a rooster strapped with cockfighting razors.

Local reports say that the incident occurred during a cockfight. Roosters are usually strapped with razor-like knives to fight each other during cockfights. To see the nasty knives which are affixed to the cocks have a look at this

Why don’t I feel the vaguest bit of sorrow for him?

Who’d have thought that monkeys are so canny? Actually, I knew they were but here is a clever trick – and we thought that we had invented everything! Have a look at this video of monkeys teaching their children to floss their teeth.


We hear and read so much about cruelty to animals that it comes as a refreshing surprise when we read about someone who is prepared to risk their own lives for an animal. I recently wrote about a man who risked his own life to rescue a kangaroo joey in the Brisbane floods. Now here is a man who risked his life to save a horse.

An heroic rescue of a horse during last year’s floods in the Gold Coast hinterland has earned Jeffrey Moss the RSPCA’s highest award.  He joins an exclusive club, with only seven Humane Awards granted by the RSPCA since the award’s inception in 1990 Oxenford .

The Humane Award is presented for extraordinary bravery in saving the life of an animal. Mr Moss risked his own life in an attempt, ultimately unsuccessful, to save the horse on February 7 from the flood-swollen Coomera River at Oxenford.

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And it’s good to see other people going out of their way to rescue animals who are at risk of drowning during the recent Queensland floods. I have previously featured the man who risked his life to save a joey whose foot was caught underwater.


How did the elephants cross the road? They went underneath it.

Elephants this month began crossing through Africa’s first dedicated elephant underpass in Kenya. It’s a new solution to the increasing problem of animal-human conflict in Africa.

The Associated Press watched earlier this week as three young bull elephants passed through the tunnel, which was built under a major highway near Mount Kenya.

Conservationists say the tunnel connects two elephant habitats that had been cut off from each other for years by human development. They say more such solutions are needed to alleviate the problem of human development in animal areas in order to preserve Africa’s wildlife.

It’s wonderful that they have come up with this solution. Unfortunately every morning of the year, throughout Australia we see hundreds of dead kangaroos, possums, koalas, sulphur crested cockatoos and other wildlife squashed on the roads. In a couple of spots I’ve noticed roping between trees on opposite sides of the road to facilitate possum travel but generally it’s every animal for themselves. We build massive highways through their habitats and play dodgem with them every night. It’s criminal.

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Recently we were all astounded to see a gorilla walking upright like a human.  Oh well, they can now walk like us, but are they as brilliant as humans? (I jest of course).


Do you like to see animal babies? Well knock yourself out on this lot!


They are not beautiful by any means, but no one with a kind heart could deny that the critically endangered Aye-Aye of Madagascar are unusual and well, rather loveable. At least I think so. Unfortunately they are misunderstood in Madagascar and viewed by villagers as evil due to their long finger which they use to probe for insects in the bark of trees. That, and the fact that their habitat has been destroyed, is a reason that it has become imperative to breed them in zoos if possible.

 See the baby which was born in an American zoo.


I just love David Attenborough documentaries. Here is some of his remarkable work – this time in Madagascar where he has filmed the Ghostly Gecko hunting for its dinner at night.

As with all wildlife in Madagascar, the Ghostly Gecko is endangered because its habitat has been destroyed. So have a look at it here

Fortunately we have very good photographic equipment and hopefully we’ll be able to preserve recordings of all the animals on earth because one day that will be all we have.


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Apocalypse now?


Recently I wrote about birds and sealife committing suicide en mass.

This week I’d like to ponder about the extreme weather conditions that are striking the world.

In Australia we have just come out of a ten year drought. And recently, right across Australia – principally Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Victoria, we were pounded by dreadful flooding.

Lives were lost, homes destroyed and animals killed. Residents in Toowoomba reported being hit by a tremendous wall of water – an inland tsunami – as they were out driving. Just imagine this – people who were not good swimmers were drowned when their cars were carried away by flood water. So even if you religiously avoided water because you were a poor swimmer, the water found you.

And because Queenslanders and really all of Australia has enthusiastically cut down every tree in sight, the rivers were running brown with our precious top soil as nothing is holding it in place anymore.–and-future-goes-down-drain-20110109-19jrq.html   This dirty water (impregnated with chemicals)  washed into the Pacific Ocean where it could kill large swathes of the Great Barrier Reef (see below). According to the World Wildlife Fund Australia, in the past many Australian rivers flowed clear even in times of flood, but modern agriculture, land clearing and poor river management techniques have turned floodwaters into torrents of mud.

And when societies exhaust their topsoil, they collapse or are forced to move. Need I mention that Cree Indian prophesy again?

In Southeast Brazil, in a mountainous region near Rio,  many hundreds of people were killed in floods and mudslides due to extremely heavy tropical rain.

More than 30,000 army, navy, police and air force personnel battled to provide urgent aid to people hit by heavy flooding in Sri Lanka. A government spokesman said more than 325,000 people had been displaced by flooding.  People have died and more than a million were affected. In the centre and east, farmland was flooded and rice fields destroyed.

Last year there were catastrophic floods in Pakistan and northern India. And yet in Southern India in Kerala, the normal annual monsoon in June / July seemed to be very understated. Normally a very rainy time, the promised rains failed to materialize, with just a couple of rainy days. Unfortunately, the residents of Kerala count on this rainy season to fill their backyard wells in preparation for the extremely hot summer.

On 31st August, 2008, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. This was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.

Last week in Queensland, Australia, we experienced the wrath of Cyclone Yasi which devastated a number of townships. It was apparently a force 5 cyclone which was considered the most severe cyclone in living memory.

Meanwhile, Europe and the United States have seen the worst winter weather in many years. There were atypical snowfalls in several parts  of the Northern Hemisphere. According  to Wikipedia a persistent weather pattern brought cold moist air from the north with systems undergoing cyclogenesis from North American storms moving across the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and saw many parts of Europe experiencing heavy snowfall and record low temperatures. This led to a number of deaths, widespread transport disruption, power failures and the postponement of a number of sporting events.

So why is this happening? Is it Global  Warming? Is it climate change?

The subject of global warming is very controversial and people point to the recent extreme cold conditions in Europe and America as proof that there is no global warming – only climate change.

According to  global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe.

Global warming theorists say that intensification of weather and climate extremes will be the most visible impact of global warming in our everyday lives. Powerful thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are naturally created when warm air rises and collides with extremely cold air high in the atmosphere. The hotter the air, the faster it rises, and the stronger its clash with the cold air. So, the storms that are created are much more fierce.

The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that our globe is undergoing major climate change. They also agree that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising significantly.

I’ll keep you posted on that one as right now in the Amazon Basin an extremely serious situation is brewing. Due to a record drought, billions of trees have died in the Amazon Rainforest and scientists fear that instead of being a carbon sink (the Amazon soaks up one quarter of the world’s atmospheric carbon), it will become a carbon source – releasing its stored carbon and increasing world temperatures even more. This is now becoming reality and yet I saw a documentary made by two scientists at least ten years ago, which warned that exactly this senario was likely to occur.

According to Satellite images and research show that the ice caps are melting faster, our sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are changing. We are experiencing more water shortages. The deserts are expected to expand and the world will ultimately have difficulty growing enough food.

In an extremely interesting website there is a discussion about the effects of warming on the environment and sea and animal life right across the globe.

Just this week I read that polar bears are disappearing from the north and one polar bear was recorded as having had to swim for nine days across the deep, frigid Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe 685 kilometres offshore in an effort to find a hunting ground. The swim came at a cost. The bear’s cub died and the bear lost 22% of her body weight. This is apparently the longest recorded journey for a polar bear but such trips will become necessary in the future as their hunting grounds diminish.

Apparently the rivers in Australia aren’t dredged anymore which has significantly contributed to the risk of flooding.

My view of the flooding is that it would not have been so severe if developers hadn’t chopped down every possible tree and put concrete and a house in their place. Hence, there is no bare earth to absorb the rain fall. There is also nothing to hold the top soil down and that is causing the rivers to run brown with our earth. This scenario has never occurred in previous floods.

During the Queensland floods, a lady was on the radio saying that her family business is chopping down trees. They are closing the business down immediately because she was actually saved in the floods by a tree. She said that the message was not lost on her.


The 2010 Marine Census told a dire story about the world’s reefs. Already, half the reefs in the Caribbean are dead and throughout the world, one quarter are kaput.

A couple of years ago our own reef, the Great Barrier Reef, was crunched by a Chinese cargo ship, taking a shortcut. This encounter killed a large segment of the reef.

But now it looks like the reef is really copping it.  The recent devastating floods in Queensland have washed off tonnes of topsoil (see the article above) and this has headed out to the Great Barrier Reef, making the sea cloudy so that sunlight can’t penetrate down to the coral. Sunlight is vital for coral growth.

Worse still, the soil is impregnated with a cocktail of chemicals washed from farms and gardens.

Of course the chemicals will kill the fish, but if not, once the coral dies, the ecosystem the reef supports, including tropical fish, will die with it.

Up to 90% of coral in badly affected areas could die. The hardest-hit reefs include those off Queensland’s Burdekin and Fitzroy rivers, and the tourist haven of Great Keppel Island.


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Clever Crows / A Cunning Penguin/ A Smart Frog / A Grateful Whale / A Lucky Joey / A Sassy Fox


Just how smart are animals, birds and fish?

Well, a crow is a frequent visitor to my house. He sits outside the backdoor and I throw him some minced meat or an egg as a treat.

I’ve noticed him pick up the egg and bury it in the garden under leaves and then fly back for more treats while the going is good. I think this is smart.

But I was much more surprised when one day I was sitting at my dining room table near an open window and I heard a bird crowing. I automatically looked up and sitting in the tree directly outside the dining room window was the crow staring at me. So I stood up and walked around to the kitchen door with some minced meat and the bird flew directly around to the back door to receive his meal.

A week or so later I was lying on my bed watching television and I heard my crow calling me. I looked up in surprise and the crow was perched on the tree directly outside my bedroom window! How amazing. Once again I got up and went to the back of the house and there he was, waiting for his dinner again.

So this crow knows that when he wants a snack all he has to do is fly around the house peering in the windows until he finds me. Then he has to call me and I’ll come running with food.

A while ago I received an email containing a video. The video was of a penguin in Antarctica trying to outmanoeuvre three orcas (killer whales). It looked pretty grim for the poor penguin until it spotted a zodiac containing some tourists. Then quick as a flash it launched out of the water and landed on the craft. The penguin walked around the zodiac, peering over the side into the water. The orcas surfaced and glared open-mouthed at the triumphant penguin. Fortunately for the penguin (and the occupants of the zodiac), the orcas gave up the chase and with a look of disdain, choofed off to look for something else to eat.

In December, 2004 when the tsunami hit Banda Aceh,  Indonesia, despite the huge human death toll, by and large, animals escaped unscathed. Animals were seen leaving the area well in advance of the actual event.  At Sri Lanka’s national wildlife park at Yala, which houses elephants, buffalo, monkeys, and wild cats, no animal corpses were found. Animals have a keener sense of hearing than humans and are able to register much lower and higher sound frequencies. Maybe this is why? One writer has a different view on why this might be so

If you need further proof of the cleverness of animals, keep reading this blog. There is a frog riding to safety on the back of a snake and at the very end, a red fox riding to safety on top of a tyre. Stupid? I think not!

To read about the cleverness of many creatures see




The above photo was taken in the flooded Queensland town of Dalby. Apparently animals – even natural enemies – often work together when they are under threat.


Heidi, the cross-eyed possum is an attraction at Leipzig Zoo in Germany. She has misaligned eyeballs and already had 70,000 Facebook fans due to her obvious cuteness. 




If there’s one place on earth that has always enticed me it’s Madagascar. After I read about the Lemur being the only creature on earth that can eat the strychnine berry without ill effect, I was hooked.

But sadly, due to illegal logging, the native forests of Madagascar have been chopped down to make way for rice plantations. So, there goes the very intriguing wildlife which is so unique to Madagascar.

British photographer, Nick Garbutt, has taken some fascinating photos of the creatures in the jungles and you can see them here as, at the current rate of destruction, it seems unlikely that these creatures will be around for much longer.

Last year Stephen Fry went to Madagascar to photograph the critically endangered Aye-Aye

Well, remember that famous Cree Indian prophesy –

When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.




If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso and a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her.

When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them.  Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

I hate to be the party pooper who said this, but if humans hadn’t left the netting in the first place, the whale wouldn’t have had the problem. But I guess that’s being petty of me under the circumstances. Obviously whales are a forgiving lot.


Have a look at these very clever Origami animals.

FYI that means that they’ve been modelled from paper. Very talented!


I’m ever so happy to read stories like this. Ray Cole, a father of five,  jumped into flood waters at Ipswich, despite police warnings, to rescue a baby kangaroo which was being swept away. Fortunately he was able to rescue the joey and now it’s in the hands of wildlife carers.

There is also another touching story about a girl who rescued a terrified blue-tongue lizard which was about to fall into flood waters in Brisbane.||special3d||17#anchor

And a man took a photo of a red fox escaping the floods by sailing downstream on a tyre. And who said animals are stupid?


If you are in a flood area and would like somewhere to leave your pets, this lady can help you. See||special3d||22#anchor 




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Fish and Birds Commit Mass Suicide

Could it be that bird and sealife is giving up?

THE recent spate of mass animal deaths around the world is sparking conspiracy theories and doomsday predictions on the web.

From the US to New Zealand, from Britain to Brazil, bizarre cases of birds, fish and crabs turning up dead en masse have been reported in the past two weeks and no one seems to know why.

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First we have the inexplicable deaths last week of 83,000 drum fish which were washed up along a 32km stretch of the Arkansas River, about 160km west of Beebe, Arkansas and now dozens of dead snapper have washed up on a beach in Auckland, New Zealand.

And in Port Orange, Florida US, hundreds of dead fish floated around the waterways near homes, WFTV reported, surrounded by swarms of pelicans and buzzards. Kayakers on the creek told WFTV they’d seen fish around every bend and it appeared to be one of the most extensive kills they had seen.

On the Coast of Paranaguá, Brazil at least 100 tonnes of sardine, croaker and catfish have washed up on beaches over the past week, Parana Online reported. The President of the Federation of Fishermen’s Colony of Parana, Edmir Manoel Ferreira, said at least 2800 fishermen depend on the daily seafood. “We are experiencing a very sad situation on the coast,” he said.

Biologists have explained the deaths in Brazil could be because of a possible increase in the concentration of algae that produce toxins. This increase may lead to death in some species, such as sardines.

In Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, US, the Baltimore Sun reported an estimated two million spot fish died and washed up on the shore. The dead fish are mostly adult spot, with some juvenile croakers. State officials are investigating but suspect it was because of the near-record cold. Agency spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus said spot are susceptible to colder water, she said, and normally leave the upper bay by now. They were perhaps late getting out.

Water samples taken from the bay showed elevated levels of two species of toxic algae.

In Thanet, Kent, England 40,000 dead velvet swimming crabs, or “devil crabs” were washed up on Thanet beaches. Tony Childs, Thanet Coast Project Manager, told the Daily Mail: “We had a crash in numbers last year and we hadn’t expected such a large population. As happens with the circle of life in nature, we expect the crabs to be naturally dispersed from our shores very quickly by our local seagulls.”

Velvet Swimming Crab (

The cold weather in Britain has been blamed for the deaths. “We are hopeful the crab population will soon recover,” said Mr Childs.
The Daily Mail reported that the mass crab deaths made up 95 per cent of marine life affected by the cold snap.

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And dead birds are raining on us out of the skies. Four to five thousand dead black birds fell out of the sky just 580km to the south of Beebe, Arkansas. The only reason that has been given so far is that the birds were spooked by New Year fireworks.  The sound caused them to panic and as they flew around in the dark they hit against things and fell to their deaths.

And in nearby Louisiana an estimated 500 red-winged blackbirds and starlings have been found dead, a local newspaper reports – just a few days and a short distance away from where the thousands of black birds died in Arkansas.

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And  100 jackdaw birds were found lying dead in the street in Sweden

On Saturday in Romania, dozens of starlings drank themselves to death after eating grapes left over from the wine-making process.

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I can understand why fish might have given up the ghost. The state of play in the ocean is disgraceful. The sea can no longer afford to supply us with the millions of tonnes of sealife we are hauling out of it annually and trawlers have to go further and further out to sea as we annihilate the sealife closer to shore.

And let’s not forget the pollution in the sea. We have millions of tonnes of oil floating around out there, courtesy of BP, Shell and leaking ships. We have oodles of plastic floating around also the sea has proven to be a wonderful depository for our chemical waste. In Sydney we have been warned not to eat any fish caught west of Sydney Harbour as the Union Carbide pesticide factory at Homebush tipped all its chemical waste into the ocean for decades. Commercial fishing was banned in the harbour in December 2005 after raised levels of potentially harmful dioxins, a group of organic chemicals, were found in several species of fish and crustaceans.

In the sky things are hardly better. Have a look at these statistics of what kills birds –

Man-made structure/technology Associated bird deaths per year (U.S.)
Feral and domestic cats Hundreds of millions
Power lines 130 million — 174 million
Windows (residential and commercial) 100 million — 1 billion
Pesticides 70 million
Automobiles 60 million — 80 million
Lighted communication towers 40 million — 50 million
Wind turbines 10,000 — 40,000


Now what happened to my tree?

A family of kookaburras for example, live in the hollow of the same tree for two hundred years or longer. Well, that is, unless the tree is chopped down – and we’re certainly doing plenty of that in Australia. Tens of thousands of trees were chopped down to build the M7 Tollway in Sydney.

Trees are routinely poisoned to protect views. Trees are seen as a real enemy by many suburbanites. I know a woman who said that one Saturday afternoon her family went out to the movies for a couple of hours.  When they returned home, a tree which had hitherto grown proudly in the middle of their backyard, had completely disappeared and there was not a leaf or twig to indicate that it had ever stood there.  She maintains that the next door neighbour who hated the said tree, had annhilated it in her absence.

And we’re already paying the price for that mindset. The flooded rivers in Queensland are running brown with our precious top soil. The trees that used to hold it in place have been chopped down so all it took was a deluge to wash it all out to sea.When societies exhaust their topsoil, they collapse or are forced to move.–and-future-goes-down-drain-20110109-19jrq.html

And in a sadistic and nasty slaughter in NZ recently, more than 100 Endangered Black-billed Gulls Larus bulleri, a New Zealand endemic undergoing a steep decline, have been slaughtered at a colony near Wreys Bush in Southland. Department of Conservation ranger Ros Cole said that most of the birds died from bullet wounds, but others had broken bones and some chicks were found starving to death beside their dead parents.

And dolphins (although not classified as fishes) are not faring too well either. People on jet skis are being warned to be careful after a baby dolphin was found dead on the Mornington Peninsula with a broken jaw and skull last week.

And of course there are the poor dolphins and small whales who are annually rounded up and slaughtered in the coastal town of Taiji in Japan.

So who would want to be a bird or a fish? Could this be why they are possibly committing mass suicide?

Conspiracy theorists Joseph Watson and Alex Jones of blame it on “the government”. According to the site authorities have “routinely engaged in secret testing of biological and electromagnetic weapons that have detrimentally impacted both humans and animals many times in the past.”

According to Watson and Jones “Scalar weapons that can artificially manipulate the environment could be responsible for the mass die offs. We know for a fact that over a decade ago the U.S. Military Industrial Complex was aware of and involved in the testing of such technology.”

Maybe it is a government conspiracy to do selective killings. If so, then we are all even closer to the end than we think.

Or maybe the world is such an unfriendly place to fish and bird life that they’d just rather die than continue to struggle on against the odds.

In any case, we should ponder on the Cree Indians’ famous prophecy which is becoming all too close for comfort –

When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
~ Cree Prophecy

and Roslyn J. Motter’s opinion on humans –

If mankind disappeared today

What would all the animals say?

Birds, koalas and even bees,

Would sing with joy – they’d now have trees!

Tigers, elephants, all kinds of bear,

Could now roam free- without a care.

Their rivers would run unpolluted

Man and Earth are so unsuited!

But hey, don’t worry, we’re the master race so we’ll think of something clever!

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Happy New Year – but not for the birds!

Something very peculiar happened in Arkansas on the weekend.

Firstly 100,000 drum fish died for no particular reason and then 5000 black birds fell out of the sky – dead.

At first it was speculated by game and fish commission ornithologist Karen Rowe that “the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail”, the Associated Press reported.

Now it has been officially confirmed by the State veterinarian that New Year’s Eve revellers shooting off fireworks in the area startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress.

A local resident reported hearing about 20 loud booms on Saturday night – which could have been fireworks or a cannon to get rid of nuisance birds – and saw a huge flock of frantic birds when he went outside.

“He could hear the blackbirds fluttering around – he could hear their wings and he could hear them hitting into things,” Badley said.

Blackbirds have poor night vision and they were likely killed because they banged into houses and trees in their fright.

Read more:

Hmm, I’ve been wondering about the cost to wildlife of our entertaining fireworks every new year.

Last year I was on a boat in Darling Harbour and I was quite disturbed by the anxiety of the seagulls at midnight when the fireworks went off. They scattered – screeching hysterically – as every firework exploded. It was fairly upsetting to watch.

On 12th June, 2010 the Belfast Telegraph reported that a controversial pyrotechnics display beside a wildlife hotspot went ahead after a council claimed there was no scientific evidence that birds would be disturbed.

But residents living near Six Mile Water wetland habitat area in Ballyclare have alleged that a wildlife crime may have been committed when the display was held at the end of Ballyclare May Fair. It is illegal to disturb nesting birds.

Meanwhile, the RSPB warned that fireworks must never be set off next to birds’ breeding and roosting areas.

Read more:–council-fireworks-display-near-bird-sanctuary-14840252.html#ixzz19xaGtMiG

On 5th November, 2010, according to  RSPB Cymru gave advice on protecting birds and other wildlife from bonfires and fireworks.

 RSPB Cymru urged everyone to spare a thought for garden wildlife this bonfire night.

At night-time in particular, birds are likely to be roosting in trees and bushes, and the wildlife charity is warning that holding firework displays too close to their shelters could disturb them.

 Although there is no evidence to suggest fireworks cause conservation problems, loud bangs and flashing lights too close could cause birds to move on, and every movement made in the cold weather uses up vital energy supplies.

RSPB Cymru asked anyone planning a bonfire or fireworks display in their garden to avoid doing it too close to nest boxes. Even if the nesting period is over and young birds have long gone, many birds use nestboxes for shelter over winter.

This advice, although very wise, is not helpful in Australia because private fireworks displays are illegal. The government or councils set off the fireworks displays.

If every bird in the world was to fall down dead it would not stop any country’s New Year firework displays.

However, the sky is their home and they don’t understand what is happening when the sky explodes with smoke and horrible noises and bright lights.

And let’s not forget the dogs, cats and wildlife that suffer because of the fireworks.

According to thunderstorms, fireworks, gun shots or any loud or sudden noises can disturb and frighten dogs and cats. These often occur unexpectedly, making it difficult to help your pet cope with the stress caused, especially if you don’t want to resort to total sedation which is something not now recommended by vets for these type of situations.

It is estimated that around 50% of dogs are afraid of loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms and gun shots, and many cats suffer too. This fear reaction can become extreme and some pets develop firework phobias, showing a level of fear that seems out of proportion with the sound. Many pets suffer during the fireworks season, which can often continue right through until the New Year. There are also other occasions when loud noises can cause stress and anxiety. The fear this causes can result in a noise phobia where the dog or cat will become anxious and distressed upon hearing any loud noise and most pets with noise phobia experience worsening signs each year.

I have just received an email from my cousin Annette, in Holland who tells me, ‘It’s like a war zone here as soon as the fireworks are on sale, so when 12 arrives, it’s no surprise, as one has been forced to hear the noise the whole day. 2 teenagers dead because of firework bombs, school burnt down, church burnt down and cars destroyed, is definitely not appealing, all one too many, it’s time to introduce a law or a EC law against private fireworks.’

Is there a point to the Australian government wasting $5 million on fireworks when surely half that amount would produce a terrific show. Of course, now they feel obligated to surpass the previous years’ displays. So soon they’ll be spending $10 million for sure.

So what’s the solution? I wish I knew. I can only recommend that all pets be kept safely inside during firework displays. Unfortunately we can’t do the same for all wildlife and birds.

And I wonder what killed all those fish?

To find the answer to that question, have a look at my next blog.

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Water, Water Everywhere But Not a Fish in Sight!

A couple of fishing boats in the harbour near Kovalam Beach, Kerala, India


“Humans have always been very good at killing big animals. Ten thousand years ago, with just some pointed sticks, humans managed to wipe out the woolly mammoths, saber tooth tigers, mastodons and giant vampire bats. The same is now happening in the seas.” So said the late Ransom A. Myers, Fisheries Biologist and Head of the Future of the Marine Animals Populations Project.

Enjoy your Christmas prawns/shrimp, your lobster tail, oysters, caviar and other assorted sea delicacies my friends, because such lavish knees up will soon be just a memory. In fact, results from the 2010 Marine Census indicate that if current fishing trends continue, commercial fisheries will have collapsed by 2050.

If you haven’t already twigged to the fact that seafood prices are through the roof and wondered why, then you might be interested to know that we are fishing sea life out of existance.

Yes, of course, seafood was just invented so that humans can eat heaps and heaps of delicious sea thingies at buffets and weddings, that’s why it’s called seaFOOD. Annually, millions of tonnes of seaFOOD is fished out of the ocean for us lucky humans.

Unfortunately we seem to have so many parties that we’ve fished out all the seaFOOD near the shore and now the boats have to go further and further out into the ocean. What a pest.

Although we don’t give two hoots, there are some other annoying animals and bigger sea creatures who also like seaFOOD. In fact, it’s often their only food. And they’re currently starving because unlike our boats, they can’t go right out to sea on the continual search for seaFOOD. A bear prefers land and likes to catch their salmon as it jumps upstream to reproduce.  Penguins also like to fish close to shore. The further they travel, the greater the likelihood of their being gulped up by a hungry seal.

And of course, we clean forgot that if we overfish all the seaFOOD, there’ll be no seaFOOD parents left to make seaFOOD babies so there is more seaFOOD for our next Christmas knees up. The orange roughy can attest to this. With a life span of 150 years (if not eaten by something), they begin their reproductive life at the age of twenty five. We began commercial fishing of orange roughy just ten years ago and they are already endangered. I mean, it’s just ridiculous that they take so long to begin reproducing and we can’t wait that long. So we’re eating them all before they get a chance to reproduce. It would be the lucky one that gets to live to twenty five neverlone 150! Fat chance of that!

Other seacreatures are in serious decline. 90% of populations of top predators – tuna, shark and swordfish – have been caught and the repercussions are serious. There has been a decline of  87% of sandbar sharks, 93% of blacktip sharks, 97% of tiger sharks, 98% of scalloped hammerheads and 99% of bull and smooth hammerheads since 1972, according to a survey by the University of North Carolina. Sharks are prized by the Chinese for their fins which are hacked off while the shark is still alive and the finless shark is then tossed back into the ocean to die. It is estimated that 50 million sharks also die annually due to accidental entanglement in fishing nets.

So how does this impact other marine life?

Well, sharks are top predators of sting rays. Now that sharks are becoming extinct there is a population explosion amongst sting rays. Spotted eagle rays have become increasingly common off Hawaii. Populations of long headed eagle rays are exploding in Japan’s Ariake Sound and cownose rays in Chesapeake Bay. Sharks are the natural predator of sting rays and have hitherto kept their numbers in check. However, now that sharks are virtually extinct, sting ray numbers are exploding and numbers of shellfish are plunging proportionally. Sting rays love to eat softshell and hard clams, oysters and scallops. In fact, the longheaded eagle rays in Ariake Sound are decimating several shellfish species a year. In Chesapeake Bay the rays are gobbling down 925,000 tons of hard clams and oysters. Now that will put a dent in your Christmas platters!

And who can we blame for that? Well we killed the sharks and are still doing so, without a thought for biodiversity. We hate to hear about anything that might try to stop us catching and eating anything that takes our fancy. And boy, do we hate anything else that tries to steal OUR seaFOOD off us! Fishermen happily kill seals who dare to eat their seaFOOD.

So in Russia bears who normally rely on salmon catches  to bulk up for winter, are starving and resorting to attacking miners for food because illegal salmon fishing has stolen their food. The same scenario is being played out all over the world. Seals, penguins etc are having to fish further out at sea because commercial fishermen have fished out the waters close to shore. Recent attacks on humans by sharks in Egypt have been largely blamed on overfishing. When we steal other predator’s food then they turn on us – it seems a fair and logical conclusion.

In fact, such is the dire state of the world’s oceans that there are more than 400 dead zones around the world. The dead zones contain nothing other than jellyfish. One such dead zone exists off the coast of Namibia. Their fish have all been fished out by fishermen. Spadefish, sunfish and loggerhead turtles which eat jellyfish have all been fished out and hence jellyfish which are otherwise known as the cockroaches of the sea, are now thriving around Australia, Britain, Hawaii, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Sea of Japan and China’s Yangtze Estuary.

Half the coral reefs in the Carribean and one quarter of all the reefs around the world are dead due to pollution, physical destruction and increased temperatures. Increased CO2 takeup in the ocean has increased acidity which causes lower saturation states of the carbonate minerals used to form skeletal material.

So unless you have a plan to save the world’s seaFOOD, then you’d best eat up now as it will soon be just a memory.

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Australia’s New Native Animals – Cane Toads, Cows and Sheep

I have just read a sad story about how five endangered Sumatran elephants have been killed by villagers because they most likely damaged their crops.

It’s the same old story. The elephants’ habitat has now been chopped down so there’s nothing for them to eat. So they eat the villagers’ crops. The villagers get angry. They retaliate. They kill the culprits. Five endangered elephants are now dead.

Wild and native animals are now the enemies of mankind. We don’t want them. There’s no place for them in our lives except as zoo exhibits, or as in the case of the kangaroo – on our dinner plate. 

My friend Julia was driving up on the highway near Byron Bay on Friday night and she noticed a baby koala trying to cross the highway.  She jumped out and helped it cross (nearly getting herself run over by semi trailers in the process).  When it got to the other side it was so stressed out it immediately tried to go back the way it had come. She had no option but to grab it and take it to the police station where it was to be handed over to WIRES (Wildlife Information and Rescue Service) officers.

The reason for this catastrophe is that all over Australia we build double lane major highways through koala habitats. I have seen squashed koalas in Victoria where the Hume Highway goes right through koala homeland.  It’s really quite disgraceful.

Have a read of what I have already written about the way we treat our iconic koala

As for kangaroos, they are now just considered pests and lean meat. We are being encouraged to overcome the childhood obesity epidemic by eating kangaroos. No mention of giving up junk food or exercising – just eat kangaroo meat! When I was a child, no one ate kangaroo meat but we were all thin and active.

A recent discussion on this very subject at the University of Technology, advertised it as follows –


UTSpeaks: Killing Skippy
Will kangaroos survive being seen as lean, tender meat and damaging pests?

November 30th 2010

How did kangaroos stop being wonders of the Australian bush, becoming only good for food or sport?

Why do conflicting opinions abound about how many kangaroos Australia should maintain and how many we can sustain, if these animals are intensively harvested in the wild for meat? Despite industry reassurances, do kangaroos and their pouch young suffer cruelly at the hands of hunters?

Based on cutting-edge UTS research, this public lecture addresses the contentious issues of harvesting and eating kangaroos as a means to protect the environment and examines the laws and regulations that govern the well-being of one of our most treasured national icons.

I have previously written about this subject and the abhorrent way that joeys are ‘finished off’ after their mothers have been slaughtered. See

I didn’t go to the talk so I don’t know what was said, however I think that the crux of the problem is that more than anything, we want their land.  Koalas are proving to be a jolly nuisance as they tend to live in highly desirable areas – Port Macquarie, Nelson Bay, the southern part of Queensland for example, where a lot of development is occuring.

All animals need a certain amount of space for their habitat before they become stressed.  It’s no use leaving a few trees with koalas on either side of a double lane highway and hoping that everything will work out. It won’t work out for the koalas anyway.

But then it’s not just koalas and kangaroos who are animals non gratis. It’s fruit bats, ibises, sharks, wombats, crocodiles, cockatoos, possums – the list goes on. 

I remember when the beautiful Christmas Beetle was a Christmas trademark. They’d be all over the place in summer. I haven’t seen one for years.  I read last week how Stephen Fellenberg has said that their disappearance is due to their habitat being destroyed. They have an incubation period of two years under the ground before they emerge, fully formed.  These incubation areas are being dug up to make way for housing developments. Same old story.

We’ve made life as miserable as we can for Australian wildlife. We’ve brought in Indian Mynah birds and cane toads which have decimated our birds and native animals. Whatever is left over is under serious stress.

Curiously, since I wrote this blog I’ve noticed a few people googling ‘are cows and sheep native Australian animals?’ Well the answer to this is a big NO. They, together with foxes, rabbits, dogs, cats and pigs were brought out to Australia from England after colonisation. Foxes were for ‘sport’ and I’m sure rabbits were for food, as were the pigs, cows and sheep. Cats and dogs were for pets. We’ve since helped by bringing in Myrna birds and cane toads.

I’ve spoken about biodiversity before. The links in the chain are fast coming apart and it won’t be long before we find out what the repercussions will be.

It looks like we can soon forget Australia’s native iconic animals. 

A report was recently released titled ‘Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia’. It estimates that the number of sites classified as empty of mammal activity rose from 13% in 1996 to 55% in 2009 and predicts that in 20 years native mammals will be extinct. Presumably that does not include the human mammal. However, how can we be sure? We are just one link in that biological chain and if we are the only link left, what will that mean for our survival?

We can expect that in a few years all that will remain in Australia will be people, cane toads, Indian mynahs, cows and sheep and strangely, the government doesn’t seem to care or maybe now it’s just all too hard.

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