Monday 30 January 2012

A Moment with a Message

It is mid-morning on Boxing Day, and some visitors are gracing the branch of a tree near Mulligan Drive at Waterview Heights. Three grey-crowned babblers are enjoying a momentary pause from their lives of vigorous movement – bounding across the ground, rummaging through leaf-litter, probing into rough bark on trees, and nearly always chattering.
But for now, it is time for some quiet preening, for caring for each other. Clustered side by side on the branch they share a moment of togetherness, a vivid symbol of life’s connectedness.
Grey-crowned babblers are a threatened species. Because they spend so much time hopping around on the ground searching for food, and at the same time joyfully ‘talking’ to each other, they are especially prone to cat attack.
A 29-lot subdivision proposed for Waterview Heights will be placed in grey-crowned babbler territory. A revised Koala Plan of Management has been prepared by the proponent, but what of the other threatened species, such as the babblers, for whom this area is so important? Have recent flora and fauna studies been carried out to determine the effect of this development on their future?
The babblers have the capacity to gladden human hearts. They project a joy in living. They are a vital part of our Earth Community, and they must not be added to Australia’s long list of extinctions.
However the subdivision, as proposed, is very likely to increase the pressure on these creatures. The number of unrestrained cat movements in the area may be substantially increased.
As the area is ‘tidied up,’ by creation of extensive meticulously mown lawns, and as the rough- barked trees and understorey are removed, so the babblers’ food source will be significantly reduced.
There is little doubt that the three creatures enjoying their wonderful moment of unity, have an uncertain future.
S Mussared

Thursday 19 January 2012

Animal abuse, Australian hypocrisy

Many thousands of people visualise a barren, pointless life without animals. 

Others see them as commodities, food, or problems to be overcome, with resultant infliction of unimaginable cruelties on living, breathing muscles, tissue and nerves that sense and react to stimuli in the same way as they do in the human body.

Treatment of animals in Asian countries in particular remains in the dark ages. Science has produced remedies and treatments for every known human ailment and requirement, yet many Asian stalls remain stocked with animal-derived substances, all peddled under the long-outmoded terms Tradition, and Heritage.

Both terms support perpetuation of horrific animal abuses. Skinning dogs and cats alive, slicing off living sharks fins, knocking out nest and chicks of breeding bird colonies, poaching the remnants of the African rhinoceros, trapping tigers for every part of their bodies, and keeping bears in cages the same size as themselves with open holes in their bellies for up to 20 years, are just some 'traditional' practices carried out in Asia in this so-called enlightened 21st century.

Powerful campaigns are underway to resolve the most extreme forms of animal cruelty. But heritage and tradition are difficult words to squash, and here in Australia they are often used to support horrendous practices that otherwise might well put the perpetrators in jail. The barbaric treatment of cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses, mutilation of ducks for 'sport' during recognised open seasons, clubbing to death of kangaroo joeys as by-catch for the meat trade; hacking off of giant sea turtles’ flippers and leaving them to die in the sun; battering wallabies to death with clubs; tossing living turtles, goannas and echidnas onto hot coals; golf swing practices on frogs and toads; rendering animals homeless by forestry practices and property burn-offs; mutilation and horrific deaths by ‘traditional’ barbed-wire fences; maimed and dying animals left by the roadsides; the relentless ongoing torment of flying-foxes - all are tolerated practices, many under the terms tradition and heritage, and all overlooked, and/or supported, by Australian legislation and government agencies.

Sadly all of which make Australia one of the most hypocritical nations on earth.

P Edwards

Friday 13 January 2012

Legislation Failing Koalas

 Koala numbers are declining across Australia. This has led to a Vulnerable listing at some State levels, but a Federal Government listing remains in limbo as the Environment Minister procrastinates under pressure from developers.

Locally Clarence Valley Council's Draft Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for Ashby, Woombah and Iluka (CKPoM) recognises that the Woombah koala population is in imminent danger of extinction, and the Iluka population is likely to be extinct. Yet more development is planned for Ashby, despite the warnings and the fact that a viable koala population exists in that area.

At Shannon Creek, in the Coutts Crossing area,  the access road to the Clarence Coffs Harbour Regional Water Scheme dam destroyed core habitat and a critical movement corridor - despite a Koala Plan of Management. Investigations in recent years have failed to find any trace of the previously known, healthy koala population. 

And yet another subdivision is under consideration that will cut through yet another vital koala movement corridor in the significant Waterview Heights locality.

Last year Clarence Valley Council approved another development east of Coutts Crossing, with planned removal of over 10 hectares (ha) of forest from a mapped regional wildlife corridor in an area where koalas were known. 

The Pacific Highway upgrade is set to destroy over 500 ha of koala habitat through the Valley, plus hundreds more north of Iluka and south of Wells Crossing, yet the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) does not need to consider cumulative impacts on koalas, although the highway has already imposed major impacts around Coffs Harbour, one of NSW's remaining strongholds for this iconic animal.

Also at Coffs Harbour private native forestry recently saw over 800 ha of core koala habitat approved for logging, ignoring Coff's Council's KPoM, while Forests NSW heavily logged koala habitat in the Boambee and Clouds Creek State Forests, with up to 80% of vegetation removed in some areas. Now plans have been released to log Ellis and Orara State Forests, both in high use koala habitat.

Stress from habitat and territory loss is a known trigger for koala diseases and subsequent deaths, while habitat fragmentation has contributed to their demise by forcing them to spend time on the ground, vulnerable to dog attack and vehicle strike.

Yet the destruction continues unabated.
- John Edwards