19 July 2005

Tolerating the disappearance of Australians

The deep appreciation of things 'foreign' is shown by the high ratio of pet ownership. Barbie-dogs, fierce property defending dogs or obese cats are all chosen by the great majority of Manly residents. Dogs, mostly locked up in the home, yelp for ages once the Valium stops working. The ones imprisoned in backyards all day are no better off.

For some the cute nature of the Australian fauna is discovered, Lorikeets are attracted to balconies with sugar water, birds are fed with inappropriate substances. 'The hand-out' system makes the giver feel 'generous' and in-charge. It is a system of turning them into pets without the onerous responsibility of ownership. Minimum input, maximum gain.

What is definitely not on is allowing habitat for 'them', the native, endemic animals. The war of the species is on and there shall be no survivors. First there is the 'development' of the human species, more & more of the same. 20 garage-houses, private lap-pools at the beach etc. If the knock-em-down-building-process has not erased all soil and vegetation, the 'landscaping' will do the rest to design 'them' out. On the boring weekends the frenzy of tidying up the (remaining) vegetation takes place. Petrol gardening with mega-decibels. A good pesticide, herbicide and fungicide cocktail tops the job off.

Gone is the habitat of the birds, the bandicoots, the lizards, ringtails, the frogs etc. No place and resources to rest, feed or breed and sustainably live. Should some survive by accident the dogs, cats and cars will get them in due time.

The slaughter of native birds in gardens is mainly due to irresponsible cat owners. Fed on tonnes of other species they pounce on the birds like oversized wrestlers and kill for sport. The dogs have their go on the little penguins and anything else that moves. If the long nosed bandicoot, which once covered all of Sydney, now confined to Manly, survives the elimination of its urban bushland with rows of housing, then the next joy-rider to North Head will flatten the little creature for sure. Every day 7000 animals are struck by cars in NSW alone, that's 2.5 million a year. (Manly Daily, 19.07.2005)
Tolerance of things Australian would mean, leaving some habitat to them, allowing other species to prosper as well. Taking joy and pride out of the bio-diversity that could be passed responsibly to the next generations. But the exchange-value thinking, greed and ignorance do not allow for such generous inclusion. It is about mining the place and then moving to other frontier land.

Yes, there might be the odd person out there growing a Robin Gordon or even leaving a native tree, there are the authorities that 'recommend', 'appeal' and 'promote awareness'. To create a substantial urban bushland in the private and in the public form does take considerable knowledge, good will and resources to realise in a community. Deregulatory policies, lack of enforcement and hunger for cash-flow give the official consent to the 'done thing'.

The bandicoot, the penguin, the ringtail possum will all make cute posters one day of extinct species 'that we had and for unexplainable reasons, they all disappeared...''

1 comment:

Big Gav said...

While I appreciate your sentiments in general, I'm not sure things are entirely as bleak as you paint them.

For example, I have some friends who used to live in Mona Vale suburbia until recently who had bandicoots appear in their back yard on a regular basis.

And the ex-industrial site I inhabit has ringtails in the trees beneath the apartments (I almost trod on a baby one on the path one night last week), frogs croaking on the lawn at night, families of ducklings appearing on the ponds (and sometimes a hawk eating them) and kookaburras catching the lizards on the paths - all with a few kilometres of the Sydney CBD.

As long as some bushland is preserved nature can be quite resilient (although I'd concede that McMansion covered, small block / big house, high traffic modern suburbia is just as hostile to the wildlife as you say).

I will guiltily note that I feed a pair of lorikeets bread (brown, unsugared) every now and then - while shooing the myna birds away and being unsure if I should let the currawong have any or not.

Is this something I should stop doing ? The seem to enjoy the change of diet from the bottlebrush bushes they normally feed on...