Monday, June 27, 2011

A Father's Love

Yes, I know. There hasn't much blog posting going on. Real Life has been handing out a fair few blows and so blogging hasn't been too high on the priority list. I needed cheering up so let me tell you something that touched my heart.

There has been much reading and television watching and, among the dross, there were some gems. This was one.

I was watching a documentary on the migration of herds of zebra and wildebeeste in Africa as they follow the grasslands, often for hundreds of miles, in vast numbers. They cross rivers where crocodiles lie in wait and are preyed on by lions and other predators but nothing short of death stops them. In the case of one zebra in the documentary death did stop her.

A mother with a young foal collapsed and died. The baby attempted to suckle and then tried desperately to rouse his dead mother. Meanwhile, the rest of his family continued on among the herds, soon disappearing into the distance, but there was one exception. The male, who we might have thought would only be interested holding his harem together, stayed close to the foal calling to it. The distraught foal was initially totally fixated on his mother but as time passed he started to look around. Then the male did something extraordinary. He began walking up and down in front of the foal, calling it and kept on for some hours. Slowly the foal's attention shifted from his dead mother to the alive and calling male and he began to move away from the body. The male then came over and shepherded him away and they moved off after the herds into which the male's harem had long ago vanished.

Whether they were ever reunited with the harem we don't know. Nor do we know how the foal would survive without being able to find milk. Perhaps another female would have been persuaded take him on. I would like to think, though, that the father was able to bring his family together again and raise his son. We are so fond of thinking we are superior to animals but I can't see this as anything but an act of love and self-sacrifice. Can you?

Edited to insert missing word.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is It Me

or is the world going mad?

Some timber companies have been found to be exceeding their permitted cutting allowance in the forests of southern Western Australia. And what, according to The West Australian newspaper, has the Conservation Commission suggested should be done to deal with this situation? Go on. Make a wild guess. Cut their allowance further? Fine them? Nope. They said the allocation is too small and that's why the companies have breached it. The solution? It's simple. Increase their allocations. Then they wouldn't have to cut more than they're allowed to.

Why didn't anyone else think of it before? Because, of course, cutting more of a resource like timber, which is restricted so forests remain sustainable, will work.

The article is here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Appeal

to the universe. There is such a thing as too many deaths happening in one family within days. Please do not apply the Rule of Three this time. Just asking.

Friday, June 17, 2011


House: one completed ensuite bathroom which makes me smile every time I look into it. What was a cramped, uncomfortable space because of its configuration seems to have expanded to twice its original size now it's been rearranged - and that's with fitting in a double size shower.

Today there are men drilling, hammering, sawing and tiling in the other bathroom, toilet and laundry and that also pleases me - even if I sometimes have to resort to ear plugs.

Personal: I've been remarkably pain free after my surgery if fed up with being unable to do anything. Crutches do not make life easy. On the other hand, we've been saddened by a death in the family with all that entails.

On the plus side though I've discovered a lot of fascinating documentaries on pay TV that I wouldn't otherwise watched and I'm half way through reading my ninth novel. Eek! I've just realised that means I'm running out of books. Only one left after this one of what looked like an enormous pile I had set aside.

So a mixed bag really.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Rant.

I'm ranting - again.

Australia has been in uproar for the last week or so since Four Corners, a highly respected investigative news programme, showed appalling footage of cattle exported from Australia to Indonesia as part of the live export trade being treated brutally and tortured in some Indonesian abattoirs. It was sickening and disgusting and the outrage is certainly appropriate. In response to this the Federal Government has stopped all exports of live cattle to Indonesia temporally while they work out a long term policy. This is where things get messy.

Before we go any further I should say that I am a vegetarian. This is because I decided some time ago that if I wasn't prepared to kill an animal for food - and I'm not - I shouldn't eat a creature killed by anyone else. It smacked of hypocrisy. I have no problems with those who eat meat. Others in my household do and you will find meat in my freezer for them. My decision was a personal one and my eating choices have nothing to do with my views on the live animal export trade.

I have long been opposed to live animal export trade because I believe it to be inhumane. This belief came from seeing sheep crammed into trucks and moved for long distances. I have seen them with legs stuck through the slats making up the truck cage, being trampled by their fellows or crushed so tightly that they can't move. I believe the farmers and truckers who say this is not deliberate - that no-one sets out to damage a valuable 'product'. That they do not work out better ways of transport though shows a degree of callousness that is still disturbing. Even more disturbing was the succession of live sheep transports on which large numbers of sheep destined for the Middle East died in appalling conditions. While some steps have been taken to mitigate this mistreatment it is not enough. Sheep are still being transported in inappropriate ways. That was - until now - the extent of the live animal trade as far as I knew. The discovery that there was alive cattle trade came as a complete surprise.

I have no problem with exporting meat. Most people eat meat and they should be able to continue doing so if they choose. What I do have a problem with is exporting live animals. It is inevitable that herd and flock animals crammed into tiny spaces are going to receive injuries. It's made worse when we export them to countries that don't have a culture or commitment to treating animals humanely - and anyone who has visited the countries to which we export live animals knows that the cultures there do not generally treat animals as we do in Australia.

This brings me back to the present ban on live exports. Do I want to see the live export trade stopped? Yes. Should urgent action be taken? Definitely. Do I think an instant and blanket ban on all such exports is the solution? No.

In my opinion we should certainly ban any cattle or other animals going to the abattoirs where we know abuse has taken place and we should work out a way to ensure that all the other abattoirs to which Australian animals are sent are subject to random inspections. While this happening we should be doing what we should have been doing years ago - sourcing markets for meat instead of live exports. All an instant blanket ban does is hurt a lot of people who have been involved in a legal business - even if they have had their eyes firmly closed as to what actually happens to the 'product' from that business. Of course, calling animals products is a deliberate attempt to disguise the fact that this business deals in live animals - but that is a side issue.

What we need to do is work out a solution that doesn't destroy the livelihoods of the meat producers and treats the animals humanely. This means the Federal Government must compensate all those affected both financially and by aiding them to diversify. It's not going to be easy and it will be costly because we have allowed this pernicious trade to go on for far too long but we can and should do it.