Monday, January 28, 2008






if you can bear it


I'm afraid you wouldn't like me very much if I told you what I do with
strays, but I do live on a wildlife reserve and domestic escapees wreak havoc. The wildlife has been seriously decimated by feral animals in the time I've lived here.

I grew up with a dog called AspadelladouchByTheSea (Aspy for short), 2 cats called Pinkle & Purr & later another called Black Magic. Later I bred myself an Arab stallion called Banzai (from Banjo out of Ayesha). I came from that kind of 'normal'.

But my travels showed me our impacts on ecosystems and when I came here I dedicated my life to
conservation and righting the land-use wrongs, as this land had been ravaged by logging, bananas, cattle, pigs & goats by various different owners over 150 years since Euro settlement.

Feral animals were abundant. A big management problem as being close to a National Park
which some people seem to think is the place to dump unwanted pets, plus having a next door so-called Wildlife Reserve, which then had caged animals, both native and exotic, so it was actually a zoo in effect. The captives frequently escaped.

Worst of all were the packs of hounds the local dairy farmers fed milk slops to after the milking and then let loose to roam the mountains in marauding packs.The idea was the hounds became tick-infested as they moved thru the bush and they developed immunity (or died horribly). When they returned for their milk slops they were milked for serum which was then sold to vets who used it to save their client's tick-affected pets.

Obviously a pack of hungry dogs hunting in the wilderness ate any animals they could, including the koalas, wallabies, possums & etc etc etc.

Fortunately those practices ceased n 90's when environmental groups lobbied and prohibitive laws were finally passed that recognized the values of native ecosystems conservation. But much damage had been done by then.

The wild dogs, descendants of those packs and dumped pets,
came around after my scraps and howl in packs, very unnerving. They have been known to attack people so I keep my doors closed at night. Fortunately they are fewer these days.

Every now & again well-meaning neighbors, or the Parks Service, put down 1080 poisons baits
& that gets a few of them. A horrible death I also have to endure as they don't always die quietly & tidily in distant unseen places.

Then carrion eaters dispose of the carcass.
So the quolls, bandicoots, possums, skinks & other native wildlife that eat carrion die too. And the poison goes all they way down to the dung beetles & worms.

Cats are as much of a problem and much harder to eradicate. I saw a feral cat here a few weeks ago that was the size of a bobcat, very scarey. That was no sweet pretty kitty can tell you.

Once there were possums, quolls, bandicoots, pademelons, skinks, frogs, koalas,
echidnas, snakes and the full array of inhabitants one would find in a healthy wet to dry sclerophyll forests & rainforest montaine ecosystem.

In the wet we just had I saw ONE frog. In the 80's the roar of their mating numbers around the ephemeral pools made it impossible to sleep some nights.

Then came the cane toads.

Then went the frogs, the snakes, the skinks, the bandicoots & all that used to predate on frogs & ate canetoads instead. Deadly poisonous creatures. I have one frozen in my freezer as speak. The only way to dispose of them is to burn them they are so toxic.

Now I feed the kookaburra so she can breed, because her food chain is severed.
I don't like feeding wildlife, but must say when she turned up with 2 emergent nestlings last week I nearly cried with relief. But now what will THEY eat? They are a species of giant kingfisher & rely on streams for fish & amphibians & snakes,lizards & skinks to survive.The streams have been depleted thru kids throwing stones & turning over the rocks & taking whatever they fancy might be fun in a bottle, till it dies. Plus pollution from Park visitor impacts & increased settlement impacts on the riparian zones.

My grass used to be grazed by a herd of about 20 macropds of various species, wallabies & pademelons mostly. Now ONE pademelon timidly grazes, keeping right close to the edges near the surrounding bush.

Now I have to employ a man to cut the grass.
That means machinery and the noise disturbs what other creatures there are, plus inadvertently killing the odd legless lizard, of which very few are left.I haven't seen a skink in several years and I used to have about 20 scooting around the studio & outside, very friendly,. They controlled the insect that wanted to live with me too..

Possums are now totally absent...gone...I used to have about 20 of about 4 different species.

Quolls are GONE, haven't seen one or heard one in 10 years.

I now have ONE koala where in 80's there were 20+, in the 90's there were 8 or so...
now only ONE!! I heard it crying the other night, so sad, no reply to it's mating call this year when normally the screams of ecstasy would make yr hair stand on end for hours at a time. I called this place Koala Mountain Sanctuary & dedicated it to the conservation of the core population of koalas it then supported. It seems it will be a sad epitaph, not a statement of success. There will be no new generations. The dogs got them all except this last solitary male.

All this because of people letting their cats & dogs stray or dumping them.
It's not the animal's fault. It's people.

So I'm afraid I'm seriously unsentimental when I see the plight of these uncontrolled
domestic ex-pets. Cats and dogs are very efficient hunters and because Australia's major large carnivorous predator is the introduced dingo, which only arrived around 4,000 years ago, most of the wildlife species don't have that necessary instinct to combat them, so they are just sitting ducks, so to speak.

I had a friend who worked in Diplomatic Corps & had just come back from a stint in Martinique,some years back now. She told me the wildlife on those Caribbean islands has been so decimated as to be reduced to very few species. It is the same world over.

Wherever we go with our baggage & friends, we destroy the very base of the systems that have evolved only by the full compliment of their native inhabitants. Take links from the chain and it all falls apart. We are a very uncomfortable species to be a part of.

I thought I was part of the solution, but find I am a very definite part of the problem.

So, sorry to rain on yr parade, but it would be hypocritical of me to nod, smile & wave
when I feel so very much otherwise on this issue of saving strays.

Please don't take it personally, because I respect you and where you are coming from. I thought if I spelled out clearly what has happened here you could understand why I am of that opinion.

My brand of green is very deep ecology green.

I am beyond being aghast at what we do and have done, so now I just try to live as lightly on the planet as I possibly can and watch the movie.
I can't combat The Greater, the damage is done and we are now reaping the consequences of our mass stupidity.

Maybe we should write messages on the cave walls now...

Control our numbers,

Respect the life supporting resource base & its component working parts

Use appropriate non-polluting technology

So if there are any survivors they can at least have a few guidelines to a more successful sustainable management plan for our species' survival in its' next manifestation.

The weather has suddenly become full-blown beautiful diamond days summer.

Butterflies everywhere. At least they are still in abundance.
Maybe because there are fewer birds to eat them!

I will try not to think of these things and return to fractalising to divert my mind in the creation of useless ephemeral images that are total self indulgence so I can post them on DA & Flickr & have 3 or 4 Commenters say cool or WOW or some such ego booster.

Ho Hum


Readying for the Voyage to next Goldilocks Planet




1 comment:

Suzanne said...

I read it all and am not at all put off!

Survival of the fittest is a horrible concept.

As you know we take part in it IF it is correct!

:D Sue.