by Des Casey
MANY Species are getting quite a hammering
these days. Recently the New Zealand Herald (26/10/13) reported poachers
using cyanide in buckets of water in Zimbabwean national parks – an easy
way to gain the tusks of 300 elephants. There are many other reports:
the world’s markets clearly prefer palm oil to orang-utans, shark fin
soup to sharks, exotic medicines to tigers.
Closer to home fairy terns have lost part
of a last stand at Mangawhai; two more albatross and two more shag
species graduate from being “nationally endangered” to “nationally
critical”. Not much fun either for the high country kea as it qualifies
as “threatened”. To finish off, the six dolphin species in New Zealand
waters are now on the podium wearing the badge marked “threatened”.
Zooming in further, the Barrier has its
own elephants, orang-utans, tigers and sharks. They go under the names
of black petrels, pateke, banded rails, chevron skinks, kaka and
dotterels. Different enemies but similar results. Hasten the day when
that other species finds the will and the way to stop the slaughter.
Almost 25 years ago a radio news item prompted this poem by
yesterday while I was
cleaning the oven
getting my hair done
three hundred elephants died
today while I am vacuuming
clearing out the pantry
talking on the telephone
three hundred elephants are dying
tomorrow I will
enjoy the sun
stroke the cat
What has changed? What is the same? What will change?
that falling out of the sky? It’s faecal bombs! Dung beetles are about
to get the tick to emigrate. They are to fill a hole in the labour
market by ridding the land of increasing deposits of animal waste, with
growing bovine herds particularly in their sights. But two of the eleven
species approved for release are night flyers.
The NZ Herald (2/11/13) reports that there is concern dung beetles could
be attracted to city lights at night. The bombing of streets and those
walking them could alter city life.
# # # # #
Rolling, rolling, rolling - a dung beetle
at work preparing
a repository for an egg which it will bury in the soil.
Politicians around the globe are ducking
and diving as they rationalise, differentiate, excuse, procrastinate and
deny what looks very likely to be a change of climate taking place. Many
Filipinos seem not to be so confused. So too many in the southern states
of the US as the tempo of hurricanes appears to be rising. Glaciers also
appear to be making a statement.
Brian Fallow, writing in the NZ Herald (3/10/13) announced both good and
bad news. The good – we can do something about it. The bad – we are
doing about “five-eighths of not very much at all”. He summed up the
Government’s position eloquently
“ … as economically myopic as it is morally contemptible”. Whatever the
extent of the danger one would expect an intelligent species to at least
consider the precautionary principle. It is difficult to see where
mining for coal and drilling for oil fits with this.
# # # # #
Feral cats are more and more being seen as
a potent threat to efforts to save vulnerable species. They have become
a significant problem in the Whangateau Harbour where the Omaha predator
fence is being breached at its western arm. Traps are ensuring stoats,
weasels, rats and possums are not able to enter the sanctuary, but the
cats’ cunning has them shying away from traps. Those involved in species
protection on the Barrier regularly speak of the damage cats are doing
to their efforts.
The remains of a kereru (native pigeon)
killed by a feral cat.
South Fork, Hirakimata. Photo: Kate Waterhouse.