For my mum: Handmade felted wool bags for camera, sunglasses & makeup
Who was I kidding!!!

Inspiring words from Harry Recher...do we even care about wildlife?

Only the other day I wrote about enjoying (without destroying) suburban wildlife. I recently came across a publication that explores this issue: “Too close for comfort: Contentious issues in human-wildlife encounters” published by the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales (the book is not yet available on their publications page, but i am sure it will be shortly). I found Harry Recher’s foreword to this book so thought provoking and relevant to some of the issues I am exploring at the moment regarding living sustainably in an urban environment, that I wanted to quote some of his foreword here…

“We are an urban society and not educated in the ways of the bush or native animals. Just yesterday I had to rescue a young man, who looked like he’d make a flash Rugby league centre, from a Blue-tongue Lizard he’d uncovered when moving some wood on my neighbours’s property. Even with me holding it firmly, he refused to touch it and kept a respectful distance. Not only has our society lost touch with nature, but fear and awe has replaced familiarity and understanding. Emotion has replaced knowledge and reason.

Splendid Fairy-wrenSplendid Fairy-wren in a backyard in south-west Western Australia

I doubt earlier generations were ever educated about wild animals or nature in the formal sense of the meaning of education. And, it wasn’t that there were more wild animals about or that people were surrounded by natural environments, because most were not. I suspect the real difference, and the problem that needs to be overcome, is that people grew up living and playing in a more active, outdoor world. Today, we cocoon ourselves and our children in a world of provided entertainment and chaperoned, highly organised and regulated activities. Nature reigned before television and Saturday football practice, but has now been relegated to the entertainment industry alongside Big Brother and Countdown…..

…Close encounters have been reduced to the Silver Screen and the odd possum in the roof or the swoop of a magpie defending its nest. This is not how I see wildlife nor the way I would like others to see wild animals. Wildlife should be more than a spectacle or a problem or a money making opportunity…..

….Wild animals share my daily life. This is not because I am an ecologist who studies wildlife, but because I enjoy them and make them part of my life. For me, every day is a close encounter with native animals, whether it is the bats I watch emerge each evening or the magpie carolling at my kitchen door for a handout, wild animals are always close. I admit that not all my encounters with wild animals are enjoyable. I am forced to net my citrus, tomatoes, chillies, bananas and guavas to stop the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and King Parrots eating more than their share. Black Rats continually invade my attic and white ants do their best to consume my wood pile. However, I have no desire to sanitise my life and live in a wildlife free zone. To the contrary, I continually seek ways to encourage the wild animals around me…..

….In his paper, Arthur White asked a poignant question ‘With limited exposure to the natural world will future generations still be prepared to defend global ecosystems?’…., we need to face the reality that the further people are distanced from wild animals and the natural world, the harder it is to convince them and governments to limit the exploitation of resources or spend tax dollars on nature conservation so that other species may survive. Sharing and caring are not inborn human attributes; they develop only through familiarity and understanding.”

Mmmmm… so not only should I ensure Little Eco knows how to treat nature, but I also need to ensure she actually knows nature.

This brings me to my second Eco Challenge (I posted re my first yesterday): Keep in touch with nature by visiting with nature at least once a week. More details soon....

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