Danger Cassowary

On the road up through Daintree Rainforest in far north Queensland there is an area where cassowaries may be found crossing the road. They are large, shy, solitary birds that have long blueish-purple, featherless necks and in some ways resemble an emu. There are endangered, and fastly approaching extinction, with only around 1200 left in the wild.

Of course when we travelled that road, even though we kept our eyes peeled, we weren’t lucky enough to spot any.

This road sign, warning of an approaching speed bump, had been masterfully changed! Unfortunately not only motorists are a problem to their survival. Habitat loss due to human settlement and attacks by dogs are a major problem.

P1020034

 

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The Largest Living Structure on Earth

The Great Barrier Reef, Far North Queensland

Just below the surface lies a small part of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

I took this photo in November last year just before jumping off the tourist boat to go snorkelling. An hour later I was in shock. In the twenty or so years since I’d last dived here how could this have happened?

The Great Barrier Reef, in far North Queensland, is the largest living structure on Earth, and it’s visible from space. Most of us know of its outstanding beauty and biodiversity and many of us now know of the coral bleaching that has been so devastating over the past years.

Sir David Attenborough says, “It is one of the greatest, and most splendid natural treasures that the world possesses.”

So why are we doing nothing to protect it?

Why are we so complacent about climate change that we have ignored the science that could have prevented coral bleaching and the increase in extreme weather events?

Why does our government not only approve the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history to a foreign company, Adani, when pollution is killing our reef and fossil fuels are quickly becoming a thing of the past, but also offers Adani a billion dollars in incentives?

Do those of us who are educated and living in the developed world really believe that by ignoring climate change it will no longer be a problem?

One day our children will say, “What on earth were they thinking?”

Oh yes. And Happy Earth Day 2017 …

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/12/great-barrier-reef-dead-coral-bleaching-recover

https://www.barrierreef.org/the-reef/the-threats

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/i-saw-the-great-barrier-reef-die-last-weekend-and-i-wept-20170308-guu0r0.html

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Magical Moon

We had flights booked from Cairns to Sydney having briefly visited North Queensland.We realised too late that we’d be in the air when the supermoon rose. Still we’d been able to spend a day in the Daintree rainforest and another out snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, both amazing places despite the massive coral bleaching of the reef that I had known about but still shocked me. Last time I was at the reef was 30 years ago and it was a  myriad of colour. How man has changed our world in such a short time. Last time that there was a supermoon the Great Barrier Reef was truly Great. What will be left when the next supermoon appears?

We would have liked to have sat on one of the endless, empty beaches and watched the moon rise, but we were unable to change our plans so reluctantly we left our tropical haven and headed for Cairns to catch the flight. We had managed to change our seats to the left of the plane, but as we approached Cairns tropical storm clouds filled the sky. Even though we took off surrounded by dense clouds, soon patches of blue replaced the white and the sky cleared as if by magic …

 

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Black Cockatoos … becoming so rare

I love these guys. They have so much character.

The red-tailed black cockatoo is one of three black cockatoos in the South West of Australia. All three species are threatened due to land development and loss of habitat.

The endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) is one of just two species of white-tailed black cockatoo on Earth.

One of the most important means of recovery for threatened species and communities is the protection of their habitat.

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Elephants

One of my favourite animals is the elephant. In the eighties their populations had been decimated in many countries due to the demand for ivory. With controls on poaching,  education, and in 1989 a ban on the trade of ivory, the following decades saw healthy populations of elephants returning. However, Japan and Hong Kong were still able to legally trade ivory, as some southern African countries fought the ban, stating that the legal sale of ivory from sustainable populations and natural deaths funded conservation. In allowing these ‘so-called’ legal sales, and the ferocious demand in a newly affluent China, the number of African elephants in the world has been devastated. The legal trade allows poached ivory to be sold as ‘legal’ by using the few legal licences repeatedly to sell the poached ivory. In 2015, 20,000 elephants were illegally killed. Tanzania alone has lost 60% of its elephants in the last five years.

So you can imagine my delight, when last year I was fortunate enough to return to the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, one of the  largest wilderness areas left in Africa, an area where the elephant population has been decimated, and we stumbled on a small herd of elephants. Our first sighting was across the water. They were bathing and playing in the shallows. We weren’t close enough to see much so we decided to try to skirt around the water. I thought we might not see them again, but when we came out of the other side of a clump of trees and low scrub, they appeared in front of us. We sat and watched as they ambled off across the bush.

I think the smile stayed on my face for a long time. Hope is a powerful thing.

 

 

http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?269211/Elephants-could-disappear-from-Tanzania-World-Heritage-site-within-six-years

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/02/tanzania-epicentre-of-elephant-poaching-census-reveals

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/13/legal-ivory-sale-drove-dramatic-increase-in-elephant-poaching-study-shows

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