From Australia Day: make every day Wildlife Day
WE WELCOME YOU to the refreshed Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC) website. This comes along with new energy for our national wildlife in the form of a new managing committee and additional members. In the ‘Member News’ section incoming AWPC president Peter Hylands introduces our new committee and offers some thoughts about where we might go together and contribute with a revitalised national organisations.
As a committee member, (coming from a journalism and publishing background) I will be acting as the webpage editor at this time. Our website visual editor, who is responsible for the new look and the new sections is my long-time colleague Sue Van Homrigh from Graphic Gesture (who says “please excuse me while I juggle things around a bit”).
In Australian we have all been overwhelmed in the past months by what some might call ‘Mother Nature fight-back’ against mounting insults from two major directions.
We’re talking about the burning and mining of fossil fuels whose emissions pollute the atmosphere and disrupt weather patterns encouraging extreme on-ground impacts (drought, fire, flood) while we are also massively destroying biodiversity — the country’s native animals, plants and ecosystems — in pursuit of economic gain.
While at AWPC we focus on the needs and treatment of our wildlife, there is no doubt that so much of the environmental news is interconnected. Climate change concerns all of us and we can call long-standing mismanagement and worse against the politicians we have let into power at state and federal level.
The logging and destruction of native forests, death of coral reefs and the fragile inland river system are all connected to the values in our country that also allows, even encourages, pastoralists and private commercial operations to shoot millions of kangaroos — the world’s most recognised national symbol — with dependent joeys perishing miserably — all for accepted ‘business’ reasons.
We’ve been here for a long time
In the course of the AWPC committee transition, I have had the opportunity or need to go through the AWPC archives. That has been an eye-opening experience. Even though I have spent a good deal of time researching an upcoming book on Australia’s fraught relationship with its wildlife since settlement, going through those archives brought some new material to light and reinforced just how long and how many good people have fought the good fight for our wildlife.
And yet here we still are as a nation, adhering to colonial and old economic values (as promoted by our politicians in charge) that risk utterly destroying the land and the environment we depend on and that many of us cherish.
I thought I would share one letter from the archives dated 1998, from a French woman who came here to make a film about our treatment of the kangaroo. How someone from outside our group-think society, and who might well represent a tourist’s perspective, saw Australia then. All this is still true today.
With all respect to the peoples who inhabited this land in 1788, when the First Fleet arrived, and who see January 26 as Invasion Day.
— Maria Taylor
FEATURE IMAGE SOURCES (Top, L-R): Emu, Gayleen Froese | Grey-headed Flying Fox, Nathan Hogarth | Mallard duck, Peter Hylands | koala, Pen Ash | kangaroo, AWPC archive | possum, Maria Taylor | Boyds Forest Dragon, David Clode | wombat, Liv Faley | Murray River Cod, Melbourne Aquarium Wikipedia | Golden Sun Moth, District Bulletin archive.
Below: An extract from letter written by a French film-maker in Australia, 1998.
Click on boxed text below to enlarge.