Category Archives: Features

Harm done: the tragedy of duck shooting in Australia

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From the AWPC President, May 2020

“It’s high time safety risk assessments and proper social / economic impact studies were done as to the impacts of shooting on the community. As it stands, regulators can’t even map all the areas where it can occur, which would seem to most to be an appalling safety risk if not negligence.”

Kerrie Allen, Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc.

THERE ARE SEVERAL shocking features of duck shooting in the Australian states where it still occurs. The recreational shooting behaviour puts police and other public servants who administer the activity at unnecessary risk; it endangers rescuers; it engages children in violence towards animals; and the shooting is conducted with precisely no regard of the safety, nor views of residents in places where the shooting occurs.

It was always a terrible decision to proceed with the duck and quail shooting seasons in Victoria in 2020 given the extreme circumstances facing the nature of Australia and waterbirds in particular. In addition, to continue with these activities given the danger of Covid-19 was grossly irresponsible for human health in regional communities.

Killing for kicks despite massive 90 percent decline in waterbirds past 40 years, climate change, drought and fire 2019–2020

In May and June 2020 (the Victorian season is supposed to end June 8), shooting was allowed despite 90 percent decline in waterbirds over the last 40 years, despite climate change impacts, the vast scale fires, the droughts and the reduction of places for these wondrous Australian birds to breed.

Waterbirds in Victoria are shot at supposedly protected wetlands of international significance

The global community might be shocked to learn that shooting of large numbers of water birds occurs on Ramsar sites, globally significant places where birdlife congregates, particularly during times of drought.

Furthermore, given the thousands of places where shooting can occur in Victoria which has the most wetland areas in the southern states, policing these activities is near impossible. Every year many species of birdlife are caught up in the killing, including endangered and critically endangered species.

INSET IMAGE ABOVE: This Pink Eared Duck is unique to Australia but was shot and abandoned by a hunter during the 2019 duck shooting season.

Polls have shown general public opposed, but Vic, SA, Tasmania and NT governments have resisted compassionate and economic arguments. Why?

Large amounts of taxpayers money is spent each year in facilitating and supervising an activity that most people do not want on their public wetlands. There is plenty of evidence that these violent activities create exclusion zones in places that also would attract large numbers of visitors engaging in peaceful pursuits, including bird watching.

Duck shooting blocks the opportunities for sensible and progressive economic development, which includes ecotourism and educational activities on Ramsar sites.

“The fact that unmonitored recreational shooting of animals is occurring in close proximity to homes and populous places, often before daylight, for weeks on end is unacceptable. More people live in regional areas now than they did in the 1950s and more people are interested in nature-based activities such as bushwalking, kayaking and bird watching, all unfairly hampered by the minority of the population who like to shoot birds for fun,” says Kerrie Allen, of Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc.

Meanwhile the extreme suffering of our birdlife continues amidst the constant spin.

“The Ramsar convention includes provisions for ‘wise use’ of wetlands, which are not incompatible with sustainable use of wildlife. Duck species permitted for hunting during open season are not listed on JAMBA, CAMBA or ROKAMBA agreements.”
South Australian Government Department of Environment and Water

(If you hear a person with power over the country’s wildlife using the terms ‘wise use’ and ‘sustainable use of wildlife’ you can be sure that it’s a euphemism for killing either commercially or for someone’s idea of fun.)

Drinking all night and then picking up a gun

Another curious feature of duck shooting is that we know that drug taking occurs as does drinking as the shooters socialise with each other. Guns and drugs don’t mix.

“I can’t understand how they can sit around drinking all night and then be allowed to go out with a firearm,” says a local resident from Kerang.

There is a reason duck shooting is not allowed at Albert Park Lake. Regional Victorians deserve the same respect,” says Kerrie Allen.

Point a camera, not a gun. Add your voice

So, we ask ourselves once more, why do these governments continue to facilitate this cruel and out-dated set of behaviours and exactly what is the point of it all? Pointing a camera and not a gun is a much better path to the future, for birds and people alike.

Laurie Levy who has led campaigns against duck shooting since the 1980s, and has been gaining more ground year by year on this issue, suggests it is helpful — particularly since state governments are coming under greater pressure than ever to end this shameful practice — that you add your voice, particularly in your own state, and write to the Premiers of Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and their agriculture and environment ministers.

FEATURE IMAGES: Creative Cowboy Films

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Mother Nature fights back

covid-19-positive-bloodtest-shutterstock

GOVERNMENTS AROUND THE world must urgently recognise the role of human behaviour, human populations and their development practices as the world faces pandemic disease like COVID-19. That’s the conclusion of an overdue research focus on the ground-level drivers of novel diseases besetting the globe.

The latest coronavirus disease started as a result of humans eating wildlife or otherwise being infected by wildlife caged for human consumption (a cultural practice that the Chinese government has now banned). Within months of the initial event in China, the whole world has gone into lockdown and economies into meltdown thanks to pandemic spread of the virus.

Other recent zoonotic viral diseases, like SARS, that spread through some Asian countries emerged due to similar behaviours. Ebola in Africa is another example of the dangers of eating bushmeat — monkeys, apes in that case. AIDs had similar genesis. (Zoonotic refers to the ability of pathogens to jump between species. Domesticated animals can be intermediary hosts from wildlife. The novel diseases that emerge are the result of human hosts with no immunity to the viruses carried by other animals.)

Australia’s CSIRO recently published an article in its science magazine ECOS on research outlining the case against human mal-interaction with the natural environment and the disastrous health impacts.

“Scientists from the different disciplines within CSIRO, the American-based EcoHealth Alliance, and the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy are embarking on new territory where they are encouraging governments and communities world-wide to recognise and address the interactions between environmental change and infectious disease emergence.

“This research is outlined in a paper titled Sustainable development must account for pandemic riskwhich has been published in the PNAS scientific journal, “ wrote ECOS journalist Amy Edwards.

What is driving this pandemic and other wildlife-borne diseases?

Increasing habitat invasion and biodiversity destruction as well as the lucrative and criminal world wildlife trade are the major drivers of a threat to human civilisation as we know it that rivals that other nature fightback, climate disruption.

Australians are no longer strangers to either the impacts of climate change or to massive habitat and biodiversity destruction for economic gain. It has been harder to ignore the ecosystem loss of the Murray Darling in the past 12 months, or the mounting cost of 200 years of native vegetation and wildlife removal, on behalf of farming and development.

And while censuring the Chinese for eating and trading in bats and pangolins Australians might also want to face the world’s most extensive and still unpublicised land-based wildlife slaughter. It occurs right here at home with the kangaroo trade for meat, (yes, bushmeat with a documented history of hygiene issues), and for wildlife skins to make football boots and other consumer products.

70% of new infectious disease related to pressure on wildlife

The paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of America that informed the CSIRO story (linked above) notes what is very evident: reaction to a string of novel diseases has been almost totally reactive and human-society focused without looking at the larger picture. Yet 70% of new infectious diseases in recent decades and most pandemics are related to human interaction with wildlife and natural habitat.

The research points to deforestation, expansion of agricultural land, intensive animal raising, and increased hunting and trading of wildlife as driving this ongoing global train wreck.

Put simply, the world’s terrestrial ecosystems are at increasing risk and their remaining inhabitants are in ever-closer contact with humans. War and people displacement; ever-larger human populations and resultant people migrations play their role in this disease/pandemic picture. One might add, as do global market economics and vastly increased leisure travel in the past 20 years.

Intensive livestock production another disease driver

The explosion of livestock production and intensive animal raising worldwide increases the risk of zoonotic diseases being transmitted by and through domesticated animals — poultry and swine flus being examples.

The authors of the PNAS paper look to action through global organisations including those of the UN — World Health, Food and Agriculture — to throw a spotlight on the interactions between humans, the natural world and the spread of disease. The current corona virus impacts that are destroying both human health and economies are centre stage.

Will governments do better than on combating climate change?

Gazing at that stage, will the response of those in power be better than we have experienced with the wobbly response to global climate disruption and its impacts? Remember the Australian bush fires? In both cases human behaviour, development goals and economic activities have been the driving forces.

The PNAS research concludes that ecological and farming knowledge needs swift expansion and integration, global planning and cooperation need to be the overarching umbrella — including more to stop the wildlife trade — and traditional thinking about expansion and development, needs to change. Are world governments, businesses and peoples prepared to listen, learn and act? The next two years will tell.

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RELATED ARTICLES:
Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian

Did the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 really come from wild
animals?

www.ifaw.org

China bans trade consumption of wild animals to counter virus
bloomberg.com

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FOOTNOTE:  SCOMO GETS IT!

Humane Society International picked up the following radio interview between the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and, wait for it, Alan Jones.

Humane Society International said it welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement to Alan Jones on 2GB on 3 April signalling Australia will be strident in calling for a crack down on wildlife trade.

Wildlife markets have spawned or exacerbated global health crises with the current COVID-19 and earlier Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the deadly bird flu.

The Prime Minister made the point that these markets are not unique to China and present a risk wherever they operate in the world.

IMAGE: Healthcare person holds up a positive Covid-19 blood test result. Shutterstock.

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Don’t eat kangaroo ‘bushmeat’ and why

roo-bush-meat-warning

Since COVID19 hit the global human community, it has become apparent even to governments, that eating wildlife is one sure risk factor for zoonotic (jump from animal to human) diseases. Bushmeat that is killed in unsanitary field conditions has additional risks for consumption by humans and their pets.  Here’s our story why:

What they don’t report about kangaroo meat for you and your pets.

The ABC, SBS and other media uncritically repeat claims and promotion from the kangaroo-killing business. Yet many country folk don’t eat kangaroo because of ‘the worms’. And Indigenous people have other reasons as well. Ro Godwin provides some facts and comments.

KANGAROO MEAT, it’s high quality, it’s good for your health … it’s good for your pets, and … insert latest health fad here … etc, etc, etc.

Welcome to the world of the Kangaroo Killing Industry. It’s what the Kangaroo Killing Industry and their affiliates don’t tell you that is of greatest concern.

As an Indigenous woman, I’ve been exposing the Kangaroo Killing Industry for decades and I’m always amazed at the spin people blindly believe about kangaroos including that “Indigenous people ate them for thousands of years”.

No, actually many of us didn’t and indeed don’t.

You see, Kangaroo are a Sacred Totem Animal to many of we Indigenous people. They are a Creator Spirit and The Dreaming of Country and holding Kangaroo as Totem means for many Indigenous people we never ate it, or eat it … ever.

Thriving on ignorance

Generalised ignorance is what the Kangaroo Killing Industry thrives on and they run a mile when asked why they don’t have warnings on their packages regarding very real and justified concerns about kangaroo meat.

They think ongoing international trade or supermarket bans against the Industry based on inherent cruelty, unsustainable slaughter and ongoing meat contamination issues is nothing to worry about … oh really?

Worms for example. Kangaroo meat carries a naturally heavy parasite load — a single Western or Eastern Grey Kangaroo can be infected with up to 30,000 parasitic worms from up to 20 different nematode species, according to a summary report on the relevant research.

Epidemic and other diseases. Over the years epidemics have wiped out many millions of kangaroos. In Western NSW in 2016 millions of kangaroos died from an unknown uncontrollable disease that is still undiagnosed, yet state and federal governments and the Kangaroo Killing Industry continue to slaughter kangaroos and sell the meat to consumers. [Ed note: There is some evidence gathered by a vet and pathologist from NSW western district that goats with similar symptoms of this still un-identified disease crosses the species barrier.]

If there was an epidemic in the animal agriculture industry, there would be thorough investigations, but not with the Kangaroo Killing Industry!

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Kangaroo slaughter. Image IFAW.

Wild ‘game’ kangaroos can harbour a wide range of bacterial, parasitic and fungal diseases. The potential transfer of ‘zoonotic’ pathogens between species is possible but not well researched.

Toxoplasmosis and Salmonellosis — two bacterial infections affecting kangaroos and human health. The infections can spread to humans through the handling, processing or consumption of infected kangaroo meat. Independent analyses from the past 20 years consistently turned up kangaroo meat that harboured the salmonella bacterium and other bacterial contaminants. This comes from the way that shooting and transport in the wild occurs.

Slaughtered kangaroos are “transported in the open air, gathering dust and flies”; stored in field chillers; and may not be transported to processors for up to 14 days after being shot.

The fact that kangaroo shooters are being instructed to spray down kangaroo carcasses with acetic acid (combats pathogens) is also kept well hidden from you, the public.

The cyst-forming tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus entered Australia on sheep and now affects Kangaroos as intermediate hosts.

Enough

For too long this brutal Industry of wretched animal cruelty has crept along under the radar, the time is long overdue for this slaughter of The Dreaming to be shown in all its reality. For you and your pets — buyer beware.

FEATURE IMAGE: Seen on supermarket shelves.


RELATED ARTICLES:
Long-ignored (by authorities) KANGAROO DISEASE: THE THREATS
By ThinkKangaroos, University of Technology Sydney

Mother Nature fights back
By Maria Taylor, AWPC

Contamination
By Kangaroos At Risk

Mystery kangaroo killer leaves experts baffled*
Millions of kangaroos have died in NSW in the past year as a ­result of a mysterious illness that has left experts baffled … “It’s a disease, it’s not a genetic problem. We haven’t been able to find a bacteria, we haven’t been able to find a virus … Parasites, they aren’t part of it.”

By Sam Buckingham-Jones, The Australian*. 27 December 2017
[* ONLY SUBSCRIBERS WILL BE ABLE TO VIEW LINK]

 

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Nothing is im-paws-ible for these crime fighters

Yellow-Boy-detection-dog_photo-IFAW-Mar2020

DETECTION DOGS are employed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare — or IFAW for short — to help sniff out crime and corruption. This detective (pictured above) known as Yellow Boy — has been enlisted in Benin, in West Africa.

He aids human anti-trafficking officials by smelling out ivory and pangolin scales. Yellow Boy and his canine colleagues often contribute to the eventual arrest of illegal poachers operating in the region.

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Authorities in Singapore seized over 14 tons of pangolin scales estimated to be worth about $38.7 million on April 3, 2019. Photo: Singapore Customs/National Parks Board.

The illegal wildlife trade is the world’s fourth largest illicit industry, following drugs, arms, and human trafficking. Pangolin scales and ivory are often destined for Asian markets where they are used as ingredients in traditional medicines, while turtles and elephants are also widely poached. Research indicates that a hunter captures a pangolin in the wild once every five minutes, adding up to more than a million taken over the past 10 years. These detection dogs play a crucial role in the fight against illegal poaching.

The young adult canines are trained for six months, while puppies are trained for 10 months, before they can be deployed to sniff-out wildlife crime. Once the dogs have completed their training they are sent to ports, airports, border crossings and to the boundaries of protected wildlife habitats.

To date, five dogs have successfully completed the first training phase and four police officers have received their official dog-handler diplomas.

It’s not all work and no play however; the dogs get a home, long play-times with their human handlers, and high-quality food. The handlers are also given comprehensive training to help them provide the dogs with excellent care and help them fit into the community.

IFAW believes this is one of the best examples of what their organization stands for: bringing individual animals and humans together to protect entire species on the brink of extinction.

If you would like to support IFAW’s Detection Dog Project you can make a donation by following this link.

 

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Visitors, new residents love Skippy and all our unique wildlife. Do we?

tourist-feeding-wallaby-ValeriiaMiller-Pexels

A RECENTLY-ARRIVED Australian resident and writer, Elle Hunt, wrote a compelling article in January expressing how people from around the world love and value Australian wildlife.

The horror of our wildlife’s suffering in the recent bushfires, was the immediate impetus for her story. But it raises good questions for Australians.

In the Bush Capital, Canberra, the authorities have waged a decade-long killing program against ‘Skippy’ under various excuses. In Victoria and South Australia, kangaroo pest and killing narratives are pushing the benefits of the commercial skin and meat trade. Exploiting native wildlife for export trades has long been a policy of the federal government.

Is it not in our interests, (economic and moral) to start respecting and valuing our unique wildlife as our international visitors do?

Here is an excerpt from Elle’s story posted in The Guardian.

Their bodies lie piled up by the side of the road, barely visible through the ochre haze: dozens, maybe hundreds of kangaroos that tried to outrun the flames and perished, in their droves, in the attempt. The scene, filmed from a car on the way to Batlow, New South Wales, resembles a battlefield after a bungled campaign: wildlife versus wildfire, and the victor is abundantly clear.

Australia is burning. At least 23 people have died since October and with much of the continent still ablaze, despite the fact bushfire season is not expected to peak until February, that number is likely to climb. The scale of the devastation — entire towns wiped out, thousands sheltering on the beach to await military evacuation by sea — is hard to overestimate.

But to the rest of the world looking on in horror, among the most ghastly images are those showing the toll on Australia’s native wildlife. A kangaroo, backlit by flames. A dead joey, charred and still clinging to the fence that it ran up against. Battered koalas, battling serious burns — these are the faces put forward in appeals, poster critters of a nation gripped by emergency.

The power of these images speaks to the hold of Australian wildlife on our collective imagination. If you know nothing else about Australia — if you wouldn’t know Ramsay Street without the street sign — you know Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Same with a koala, platypus, dingo, echidna, kookaburra, wombat, possum, emu, saltwater croc — take your pick.

Even if a visit to Australia is just an “if we win the Lotto” entry on your bucket list, its fauna is instantly recognisable, symbolic of a wild and ancient continent truly unlike any other on Earth. But one of the many ways in which Australia is special is that if you do go there, you’ll actually see these species.

Excerpt from:
Elle Hunt The world loves kangaroos and koalas.  Now we are watching them die in droves. The Guardian, 7 January 2020.

As of March 2020 this article had over 2,000 shares and 259 comments.

IMAGE: Tourists flock to wildlife parks to feed our native animals. (Valeriia Miller, Pexels)

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Well before the bushfires, country’s fauna decimated by policy

rock-wallaby-Whitepoimter-Dreamstime

IN A PREVIOUS LIFE, I obtained an environmental science degree and worked as a fauna ecologist for an environmental consultancy.

On an environmental impact study (EIS) in the rocky jump-up country out of Winton [Queensland] a few years ago, my colleagues and I recorded a healthy population of rock wallabies living in the caves and cliffs where a proposed coal mine was to be built.

IMAGE: Rock Wallabies are small kangaroos that live within rocky outcrops — they are more common in the arid and tropical parts of Australia.
Credit: Whitepointer, Dreamstime.

Despite being listed as vulnerable under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, the presence of the animals wasn’t a barrier to the project going ahead.

The developers planned to catch and remove the wallabies they could, and those they couldn’t catch were going to be fenced inside the tailings dam where they would most likely die.

This wasn’t an unusual scenario.

Every EIS I worked on — for coal, coal-seam gas, gas refinery, bauxite, housing estates, and airport expansion projects — during a three-and-a-bit year period found species listed as vulnerable or endangered.

> READ THE FULL ARTICLE

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