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 https://roslynmotter.com/2010/03/11/pity-about-the-australian-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 –
I have previously written about this subject and the abhorrent way that joeys are ‘finished off’ after their mothers have been slaughtered. See https://roslynmotter.com/2010/03/27/baby-seals-and-joeys-a-head-splitting-issue/
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.