Re: Wildlife Harvesting

Subject: Re: Wildlife Harvesting
From: Peregrine <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 04:12:48 -0400 (EDT)
I returned from a trip to the Capertee Valley some weeks ago, 
unsuccessful in the attempt to find some Plum-headed finches.
Later that week I visited a pet store to get some plants for our fish 
tank (and am I about to be hypocritical for keeping fish?), where I saw 
what would have been a respectable flock of plum-headed finches in a 
small cage, surrounded by cages with every possible kind of Australian 
finch as well. The Red-browed finches/firetails especially looked quite 
pitiful with several hunched up and sick looking individuals although 
perhaps they were just sleeping.  How could anyone enjoy keeping captive 
birds after having seen a large flock of wild red-browed finches 
cavorting and bathing in the sun at the edge of a creek?
A flock of zebra finches and double-barred finches swirling away like a 
miniature galaxy come down into the grass?

Perhaps instead of (or in addition to)  wildlife harvesting, more effort 
should be put into educating and exposing people to the joys of real, living,
wild birds  than those ones confined to small cages.  Perhaps, besides 
the school  trips to the zoo there should be school trips to national 
parks. Indeed,  there are such things already I'm sure, but kids and 
young people need to  be told and shown that the best place for wild 
animals is in the wild. 
We did keep frogs and bugs and things as pets when I was little but we 
knew that after a while we had to put them back where we got them from.
(Although that was probably more a result of my mother not wanting to have 
a frog aquarium on the back porch after a few days.)
Don't know how we're going to convert the adults though. Or politicians, 
even harder! perhaps through the kids. 

maybe there should be a national campaign to give everyone a pair 
of binoculars and a field guide to a few things. birds, trees, frogs, 
butterflies, mammals. And let them find out for themselves how hard it is 
to find those plum-headed finches. 
I think the best environmental programs to save the 
rainforest that I've heard of are groups in the US who do send books and 
binoculars to kids in South and Central America so they can appreciate 
their wildlife and protect it for themselves.  

My point is, the theory behind wildlife harvesting is that by making 
wildlife into a  product, we give it a value and a motivation to protect 
our product. Several people have argued the pros and cons of this idea 
already. Shouldnt we instead be discussing how to get people to stop 
seeing their prized captive pair of eclectus parrots as just another 
commodity, and instead see them as beautiful wild animals that should be 
valued for what they the wild? Is supporting ecotourism just 
attaching another kind of money value to a species and is it any better?

I'm being idealistic, of course. I also hear the argument that dolphins 
kept in aquariums and other zoo megafauna are "ambassadors" that raise 
awareness in people  who would otherwise care less. But that doesnt make 
me happy to see them  confined and performing tricks for people. How much 
better is that first  time you see a wild dolphin riding on the bow wave 
of your boat? How do  you get people to appreciate that moment?
 Maybe turning wildlife or  wilderness into a financially useful resource 
is a necessary evil to save  it in the current political climate, but I'd 
like to think that maybe  someday people would protect 
plants/animals/ecosystems for their own and not a monetary value.
And for our own happiness and sanity!

just my two cents.
finally saw a Fairy Penguin off Maroubra on Sunday!

Katie Bertsche

Katie Bertsche .........If you're too busy to go birding, you're too busy.
Sydney, NSW, Australia

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