Life on land
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Becoming a member of Creative cowboy films The Nature Knowledge Channel is a very real way you can help the precious natural world and support the work we do in creating knowledge about what is happening to it.
The Nature Knowledge Channel is a very real way you can help the precious natural world and support the work we do in creating knowledge about the natural world.
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Creative cowboy films is independent, is not funded by governments or industry, and is not influenced by their associated interest groups. For reasons of independent research and content development, Creative cowboy films does NOT have tax deductible charity status.
Life on land
In a year shared between Japan and Australia, 2017, had raced by. In Australia we visited New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT (on numerous occasions) and the Northern Territory, its Central Deserts and Arnhem Land. It is the nature of Australia we reflect on here.
Christmas Island with its world famous Christmas Island Red Crab Gecaroidea natalis (also endemic Cocos Islands) and its horrendous offshore refugee camp.
Here also are numerous extinctions, a number very recent:
The Bramble Cay Melomys Melomys rubicola (Torres Strait) reported as likely ‘to represent the first recorded mammalian extinction directly due to anthropogenic related climate change'. The species was last seen on Bramble Cay in 2007.
In Australia, Possums, like species of Kangaroo, are disliked. There are 69 possum species extant to Australia, Papua New Guinea and Sulawesi.
Possums (super family Phalangeroidea) comprise the Brushtail Possums, the Ringtail Possums and the Pygmy Possums. Gliding Possums are related to Ringtail Possums. The Honey Possum is a distinct species in its own super family Tarsipedoidea.
The Australian Possums are:
The species in bold are of the greatest concern, but even the Brushtail Possum has suffered a significant contraction in range since European settlement.
Of the Australian species subject to political manipulation of their conservation status, Macropod, Possum, Crocodile, Duck, Parrot and Flying Fox species are high on the list, as are Koalas.
In March 2017 Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister asked Australia’s Environment Minister to downgrade the conservation status of the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum so logging in its habitat could be expanded.
In another Possum story (Perth Now 22/2/2015), this time the critically endangered Western Ringtail Possum:
“An adorable native WA Possum is becoming extinct “before our eyes”, yet Environment Minister Albert Jacob will not list it as critically endangered, conservationists say. The Possum is clinging to survival in three tiny pockets near Busselton, Manjimup and Albany. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show the Department of Parks and Wildlife estimates the Albany colony has declined 99 per cent in a decade”.
The conservation status of the Western Ringtail Possum fell from vulnerable to critically endangered, its population declining by 80 percent over the last ten years.
In Victoria the latest Possum scandal takes in the Greater Glider and the intensified logging in its remaining habitats in Victoria in the state’s Central Highlands with minimal concern for the fate of the species.
"If it moves, shoot it, if it stands still, knock it down".
This old Australian saying is alive and well. From the slaughter of waterbirds in Victoria’s Ramsar sites, the mass slaughter of Macropod species and to the mass clearing of native vegetation, vast scale deforestation is occurring across the Australian continent.
Queensland land clearing efforts rose yet again to 400,000 hectares (4,000 square kilometers in 12 months). One senior Queensland figure proclaiming:
“It’s just like giving the land a haircut”.
“Queensland has more trees than ever".
At the time of writing this story in 2017, nearly half of all new land clearing in Queensland had taken place in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments and as the reef and its myriad of species continues to shrink.
The catchment’s river systems, disgorging evermore chemical and nutrient detritus into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
For the years 1997 to 1999, Australian Government figures show that land clearing in Queensland at that time killed an average of 89,120,000 reptiles each year.
In 2017, what we have dreaded for a very long time, and that is clearing rates in the Northern Territory had also taken off, as have those in New South Wales where the gloves are off to environmental destruction on a vast scale, and that includes Australia’s precious wildlife.
“We chose as our emblem, the Dodo, the large waddling pigeon-like bird that once inhabited the island of Mauritius, and which was exterminated with great rapidity as soon as the island had been discovered” Gerald Durrell in the early 1970s talking about the beginnings of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.
Just how serious the Queensland situation is, can be described in geography. Queensland is one of six Australian States and ten territories. The Northern Territory is one of the most significant cultural and natural history regions on Planet Earth. Unless things change, and fast, the future of these things are at grave risk.
All are acts of barbarism. The world deserves something better.
Note: Photographs Creative cowboy films archive except; Thylacine (National Museum of Australia), the burnt logging coupe in Victoria's Mountain Ash Forests (David Blair), Bramble Cay Melomys (Luke Leung), (the Christmas Island Pipistrelle Bat (supplied by photographer) and the Greater Glider (Pavel German).