CACH, Tony The Tiger, Birds, Australian Budget, Ross Gittins, Elsa, Art, Daniel Boyd, Faroe Islands, William T Cooper, Neville William Cayley, Christian, Mugie, Jumbo,“Feral” Control, Energy, Climate Change etc
May 25, 2014
CACH: (Campaign Against Canned Hunting). I really believe in this cause, and I think we all have the chance to make a difference. The practice of breeding lion cubs to be petted, then shot by “hunters” horrifies all reasonable people.
See this very recent educational presentation video from CACH and we can help by circulating it as widely as possible.
On the video they have a Call to Action on how we can contribute. I gathered from reading the CACH website that they seem to hold little hope for appropriate action from the South African Government. But we are still urged to contact the South African Government and their representatives in our countries. Despite their growing unpopularity (we all heard the boos at the Nelson Mandela service), President Zuma and the ANC were recently re-elected.
This quote from President Zuma is chilling (and untrue): “compassion for animals is “unAfrican””.
CACH is also very concerned for lions in the wild – and Chris Mercer from CACH has confirmed for me that there may be only approximately 20,000 lions left in the wild in Africa. Owners of lion farms kill adult wild lions to capture the cubs to prevent in-breeding and replace depressed animals in their lion farms.
There were 2 petitions in circulation (Care2 and Change. Org) to have lions listed as Endangered in the USA, so let’s hope the USA Government acts. This would act as a disincentive to would-be American hunters. Apparently many of you signed the petitions and there was an observable lift in numbers – so many thanks!
CACH is by-passing World Lion Day in August and putting considerable energy and global organisation into World Animal Day on Oct 4th. CACH will soon be listing ethical travel agents on their website. People around the world are contacting travel agents and explaining how cub petting and walking with lions is often synonymous with canned hunting. I too will be contacting travel agencies about this and explaining how tourists would love to be contributing to the greater good for wildlife – and not, often unwittingly, being part of the problem. I think it is important to be able to recommend reputable wildlife sanctuaries as an alternative.
VOLUNTEERS: Quite a few people ask me where they could volunteer to help and work with animals. I usually recommend inquiring about helping animals locally – at animal shelters, and to Google animal organisations. Perhaps ask your local vets. I have tried to list many reputable animal organisations on this blog over the years.
Alison Lee Rubie who I met at the Sydney Global March For Lions has forwarded me a link from Facebook for Volunteers in Africa Beware listing reputable wildlife sanctuaries. If you don’t have Facebook, you can access the list here. Well-intentioned volunteers have also been unwittingly used by the lion farmers.
CHEETAHS: See this cute cheetah video. I have a friend Barry who is obsessed with cheetahs, so this is for him especially.
The vote earlier last week was adjourned and is now scheduled for next week May 28th. Louisiana residents are URGENTLY asked to contact your House Members!
One has to wonder just what sort of influence Tony the Tiger’s cruel “owner” has?
FAROE ISLANDS: The Faroe Islands are an autonomous country within Denmark. These photographs are sickening. Copy and paste the photos and petition into an email and forward to others to show your support against this absolutely appalling annual slaughter of whales, dolphins and porpoises. It happened in August last year so it will probably happen again at this time. We don’t care if it is a local tradition going back centuries, and what sort of bloody “right of passage” is it for young men?
BIRDS: I have to admit I’m getting more and more interested in birds and I know many of you are. We grew up with a Neville Henry Cayley painting, and last year Penny Olsen published Cayley and Son: The Life and Art of Neville Henry Cayley and Neville William Cayley. This book looks at the lives and work of this father and son and demonstrates the generational changes in attitudes to natural history, conservation, national ornithology, bird art, Australian publishing and commercial art.
Neville William Cayley wrote and illustrated the hugely successful 1931 book What Bird Is That? Unfortunately, and unfairly, both father and son died impecunious. I am advised by my friend Madeleine that the best Australian bird apps are Michael Morcombe’s Australian Birds which is easy to use, has all the calls, distributions, list making and the text and illustrations from his book. Pizzey and Knight is a more expensive app but has more options. I love the way that bird sightings and locations are now immediately registered, making estimates of populations etc. much more accurate.
Penny Olsen has also written the recently published An Eye for Nature: The Life and Art of William. T. Cooper. I heard an interview with Penny and William and apparently David Attenborough has described him as the “best ornithological illustrator alive”. He grew up near Newcastle, NSW where I too enjoyed growing up surrounded by the bush. His paintings are excellent, and while his background landscapes are atmospheric, they can be for me, a little florid. His work certainly puts the birds (and other animals) in context with their habitats and food sources etc.
EXTINCTION: There is an ongoing debate here – and no doubt in many other parts of the world, about the extinction of so many species. Some argue about saving “key” species – The Eastern Barred Bandicoot and koalas may be “out” for example, but bees are “in” because of their essential pollination. Incidentally, 30% of our bees have been wiped out by drought and bushfires, although Australia is still mite-free at this stage.
Our beautiful Kakadu National Park in northern Australia, has been described as a biodiversity “basket case”. We have lost 90% of our small native animals and about 100 marsupial species are at risk. Various introduced species or “pests” are usually blamed, including cane toads who are continuing their march across northern Australia, and the usual suspect, feral cats.
FERAL CONTROL: People are now beginning to question the cruelty with which these “feral” “pests” – cats, foxes, rabbits, pigs, dogs etc are controlled or eradicated. They are often poisoned and die agonising deaths. Dr. Clive A. Marks has written an important article: How much suffering is OK when it comes to pest control? He questions why cruelty to “feral” animals remains largely sidelined in the clash between conservation and animal welfare over “control” of these animals.
I especially object to the vilification of cats who are always photographed in this context snarling – who would not snarl under the circumstances? It is hardly their fault if they were introduced to deal with the plague proportions of rats…….
CATS: Meanwhile, some other cats are laughing all the way to the bank! Maru has had 175 million monetised views and Grumpy Cat will soon be starring in his own feature film and has his own agent. William Braden’s marvellous French cinema spoof Henri le chat noir has been viewed more than 15 million times and earned more than $US25,000.
Deb sent me the most wonderful collection of vintage photographs of celebrities and I have reproduced three here. They are mostly not studio or posed photographs, or paparazzi – just celebrities with each other, and often an interesting cross-generational mix of some of the most dazzling or interesting stars.
MEDIA: I have the Sydney Morning Herald delivered each morning, but it is so slim these days and there has recently been even more sackings of at least 30 photographers. I have to confess that I now buy Murdoch’s The Daily Telegraph and The Australian on my afternoon walk. Despite their brazenly partisan conservative views, they are undoubtedly meatier. The Daily Telegraph is a trashier tabloid which can be fun – and is also more likely to have photographs of animals and wildlife exhibitions etc that I can use on my blog. The Australian remains obsessed with the opposition ALP and long past sins – a pity they did not subject our PM Abbott and his mere 3 slogans to any scrutiny while in opposition.
It is fascinating watching the Murdoch journalists now beginning to turn on this unpopular government and actually doing their job examining the policies and broken promises. It is getting harder to defend the indefensible.
The Letters to the Editor in both Murdoch papers are often shockingly cold hearted and completely lacking in any compassion for…humanity.
I did love the account of the Murdoch divorce in the March Vanity Fair – his mother (yes, she died at 103 and was rather marvellous) warned him about the Wendi Dengs of the world. What an incorrigible opportunist Tony Blair appears to be.
ENERGY: Australian households are being conned over electricity. Not the carbon tax! It is the power of the fossil fuel industry and “gold plating” (where unnecessary poles and wires are built) that is affecting our electricity costs. Peak demand is actually falling. Many people face “energy poverty” – with 10% of their disposable income spent on energy. Winter is coming with additional heating costs, but we have actually been having the most lovely warm and sunny weather.
Storage of solar energy in batteries is hopefully going to be developed soon which will de-link people off the grid.
Our Treasurer recently attacked wind farms and he particularly referred to the wind turbines at Lake George (on the way to Canberra) which I have also criticised as a blight on a rather beautiful landscape. I confess I think wind farms should be located where they don’t ruin a great view….
There has just been a victory for a local community in the Northern Rivers of NSW with the suspension of gas drilling at a well. The company, Metgasco, apparently “misled” the public and “did not consult” with the community. Social media helped build and galvanise an effective if unlikely alliance of landowners, locals, and environmentalists.
The current low price for iron ore and coal (especially low grade coal), will hopefully make it not viable to develop some new mines, and they will become “stranded assets”. Deutsche Bank have just announced that they will not be funding the expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point,Queensland, ostensibly over the dangers to the Great Barrier Reef from the dredge spoils.
CLIMATE CHANGE: I find it fascinating that the climate change deniers have been squealing that they are treated “unfairly” by the media. They have been amazingly successful in the debate although virtually unable to produce any credible evidence to back up their arguments. This is what happened with the tobacco industry and their lobbyists (some of the very same people) which caused many many unnecessary deaths by warding off any action against smoking for decades.
We can’t expect the 97% of scientists that agree that global warming is happening to “sell” the proposition – that should be the job of our political and community leaders.
So it is up to us more than ever to keep emphasising the urgency – and as Annie commented on a recent blog – we live in a very polluted planet regardless…and it is a health issue. In parts of China it is dangerous to breathe the air on certain days and in many other cities around the world. Even in Sydney more people are dying from pollution- related illnesses.
In Australia, rather than earning $4 billion in needed revenue from polluters with the Carbon Tax, the government wants to abolish it – and reward the polluters with tax payers’ money. Does this make any sense?
My friend Christine recently heard Clive Hamilton discuss his book Earth Masters which is about climate change. I do want to alarm you – he said it is already too late for action!
President Obama is at last speaking up for urgent action. The Republicans are of course not supportive as it is a “threat to the economy”. I thought we lived in a society WITH an economy? Obama has been briefing weather presenters, hoping people will believe them more than politicians or scientists.
Black bears usually have 2 cubs. So it was very exciting when people in northern New Hampshire spotted a bear with 5 cubs. A photographer, I presume to be Tom Sears, waited patiently for over six weeks until he managed to photograph them. He could not believe it the following year when the family emerged after hibernation and he could take such a rare family portrait again.
LION DOCUMENTARIES: Recently the documentary Martin Clunes & A Lion Called Mugie was shown on UK television. Mugie was the first lion returned to Kora in Kenya after George Adamson’s death in 1989. As The Guardian commented, Martin Clunes is certainly no David Attenborough and seems to have no natural affinity with animals. It ends very badly – with Mugie tragically killed by hyenas. It was great however to see some of the footage of Kora, especially some images of Christian. I was reminded just how dangerous Christian’s return to the wild in 1970 was, and I did wonder if George Adamson would have taken a different approach to Mugie’s rehabilitation. I did think it was discourteous (putting it mildly) that footage of us with Christian in London and the famous reunion in Kenya with him in 1971 was included in the documentary, but we were not even identified!
Also recently shown on Australian television was ELSA, The Lioness That Changed the World made in 2011. I loved all the old footage used, especially of Elsa. She did illustrate for the world that, like Christian, an emotional connection was possible with humans, and that every animal is unique. The book Born Free was translated into 25 languages. Again I thought there was a certain amount of rewriting of history or a shift of emphasis.
Elsa’s documentary seemed to me to imply that George Adamson’s camp at Kora in Kenya was established to rehabilitate Boy, one of the lions used in the filming of Born Free, and who was recovering from injury. Christian seemed to just turn up from London! In fact Kora was allotted to George Adamson by the Kenyan Government primarily for Christian’s rehabilitation, and paid for through the success of the two documentaries which starred Christian. This was thanks to Bill Travers,Virginia McKenna and Morningstar Productions who made the two documentaries. Despite the huge success of Born Free Joy Adamson did not give George any money towards his projects. Boy was the adult male lion conveniently available for George Adamson to build a pride around Christian. George in fact described Kora as a monument to Christian – not Boy.
For the record, Christian’s initial introduction to the wild at Kora in 1970 was entirely overseen by George Adamson. Christian was very young and inexperienced. He had to survive his introduction to Boy who finally accepted him, and negotiate the wild lions in the area. We first met Tony Fitzjohn, now Field Director for the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust, on our final visit to see Christian in 1972, and Tony was of invaluable assistance to George and his lions.
ELEPHANTS: Mark Shand, a well known supporter of elephant causes especially through Elephant Family, sadly died recently after an accident.
There is a recent book by John Sutherland called JUMBO The Unauthorised Biography of A Victorian Sensation. Jumbo’s mother was killed in the Sudan and he was taken as a young calf to Europe, ending up as the star attraction in the London Zoo in the 1860s where he and his keeper Matthew Scott became alcoholics! Jumbo’s story is both disturbing and fascinating. He was bought by P.T. Barnum for $10,000 to be part of The Greatest Show On Earth in the USA. Jumbo seemed happier in the US as there were 31 other elephants in Barnum’s travelling menagerie. Jumbo was tragically killed in 1885. He was the template for Walt Disney’s Dumbo, and I still have my Dumbo ornament!
DANIEL BOYD: Congratulations to Daniel Boyd for winning the 2014 prestigious Bulgari Art Award. This painting references a found photograph of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. Daniel’s great great grandfather was captured and brought to Australia as a slave to work in the cane fields, like many others. It is a largely untold and unacknowledged history. It is a quite mesmerisingly beautiful painting and technically brilliant.
In 2008 I staged an exhibition Lines in the Sand: Botany Bay Stories from 1770 which examined the arrival of Captain Cook in Australia in 1770 and then the First Fleet in 1788, through colonial material and primarily contemporary indigenous artists. Daniel is one of the most talented and interesting commentators on the Eurocentric perspectives of Australian history and his installation and paintings were a major contribution to my exhibition.
AUSTRALIA: We have finally had our budget delivered from the new government and they have shown their true colours. They have broken many election promises and hit the most needy the hardest while insulating the wealthiest. The budget was foreshadowed in the Commission of Audit and do read Ross Gittins response to that here. The dystopian view of these extreme economic rationalists is of a “harsher, less caring world, where daily life was more cut throat, where the gap between rich and poor widened more rapidly and where the proportion of households falling below the poverty line increased each year”.
As Gittins, the son of Salvation Army officers also says “The report fits with the wry observation “The rich need more money as an incentive and the poor need less money as an incentive”.
The book Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty is getting worldwide attention – although I’m hardly surprised post the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It illustrates that “progressive inequality is inherent in modern capitalism” with the remedy a return to steep progressive taxation and taxes on capital through inheritance taxes etc.
The Australian Government is arguing that it inherited a budget “debt and deficit” “crisis” or “emergency”. Most agree this is largely confected, although there are undoubtedly middle to long term budgetry problems and sustainability to be addressed.
However FOR THE RECORD, with the ALP (the previous government), Australia survived the GFC better than virtually every other country and did not go into recession. This incoming government inherited an economy with a triple AAA credit rating, record low interest rates and inflation, the third lowest debt in the world, and low unemployment.
The previous government did think big and spend on a National Broadband Network, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and attempted to reform the scandalously inequitable education funding. I agree that much of this was not properly costed.
The downturn in the resources boom is a major factor in our present budget situation and the “middle class welfare” the previous conservative Howard Government used to buy votes, spending with “epic profligacy”. Unfortunately this was matched by the incoming ALP Rudd Government.
See more of my Australia rave and some back up statistics here.
A disturbing article in The Monthly The Abbott Club May 2014 details how Tony Abbott has surrounded himself with rich, older businessman. He depends on them for advice, and several are tasked with conducting key reviews. These people have no idea about the lives of ordinary citizens and represent only the business big end of town. Several of them are avowed climate change deniers – Dick Warburton for example has been given the job of reviewing the Renewable Energy Target!
So the budget was predictably mean, unfair, narrow and littered with broken promises. See Ross Gittins for his very fair summary of the budget which gives credit – and criticism where due… “the truth is most of us have been left unscathed…only those right at the bottom of the ladder have been hit hard”. Low-income families on benefits will lose as much as 10% of their incomes, an Australian earning three times the average wage will lose 0.9%, while a childless couple on $360,000 will lose nothing!
See this follow up article by Ross Gittins on the budget which seems to be getting even more criticism as the details are closely examined. In addition the Prime Minister and Treasurer are selling it to a cynical public very badly.
I am particularly worried about what will happen to some young people who are already facing high unemployment levels and will have NO benefits whatsoever – a recipe for homelessness and a crime wave. The States were swindled unexpectedly and without warning and have to find $80 billion to fund Health and Education. The government intends building more roads rather than public transport, and supports the fossil fuel industry, particularly the coal-fuelled power sector, at the expense of renewable energy.
Unforgivably, climate change action has effectively been halted with big cuts to research and renewable energy which will make further investment difficult, and will set us back decades.
The Prime Minister, never popular in the polls, is even more unpopular, and it is one of the worst received budgets ever. Students, who have been docile for decades are protesting nearly daily at changes that will make tertiary education at least twice as expensive, and similar to the inequitable “”two tier” system in the USA.
My sister and I – with up to 10,000 others, attended the March in May in Sydney which was full of mostly young, bright, angry people who despise this government, but also don’t trust the ALP or the mainstream media. The Daily Telegraph described us as “ferals” and “delinquents”!
MAIL: Thanks to Deb, Maura, Sylvia, Melissa, Madeleine, Lindy and others for sending images and information. I love the emails that keep coming thankyou…about Christian, about your animals (especially cats), families and lives etc. Hi to Tiger aged 7 making her own Christian-based iMovie. Yui in Japan thought he didn’t like animals until he read Christian’s story and now wants a pet. Also from Japan, Rei tells me he is very against whaling – and the Japanese have resumed whaling already.
I haven’t forgotten about the world at large: both sides now seem as bad each other in Syria; the worrying future of Ukraine; missing school girls in Nigeria; the loss of many miners in Turkey; catastophic floods in the Balkans with a huge displacement of people, the risk of disease, and all the unexploded landmines from the 1990s; a coup in Thailand – the 22nd since 1932; dissidents disappearing in China with the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square coming up; and the corrupt Congress Party thrown out decisively in India.
ART GALLERY OF NSW: The exhibition Afghanistan Hidden Treasures from the National Museum in Kabul is currently in Sydney at the AGNSW until 15th June. It is full of absolutely exquisite items and a reminder of another side of Afghanistan and their rich cultural history that we have perhaps forgotten or overlooked in the last few years.