Tuesday 25 May 2021

Endangered species

There is a list in this morning's paper of endangered species on Kangaroo Island. (If you don't know where Kangaroo Island it is the island at the bottom of the bit of Downunder which looks rather like Italy. ) It is a very long list for a small island. 

Some people might say it doesn't matter very much if we lose some of these things. Who cares about dunnarts? These tiny little animals which look a bit like a mouse with a sharp nose don't matter much do they - or do they? They are actually rather shy little creatures who do no harm. They help to keep the ground cover healthy. And what about those glossy black cockatoos? What good are they to anyone? They only help to balance the environment so that, like all other species, everyone survives.

There are eleven different varieties of bird on the list. There is also a type of potaroo, a glider, two different types of spider - all things which we cannot afford to lose. The all important Ligurian bees - which are helping to save the world's bee population - need a healthy environment in which to survive. The island cannot afford to lose all those species.  

When we lived there we took all the wildlife for granted. It was not a tourist destination then. We simply took off to Flinders Chase, told the warden who lived there that we had come in to camp for the weekend - and set up camp. We camped in an old canvas tent - and had curious kangaroos looking in at us in the mornings. 

The overwhelming memories for me are of the silence and the sense of isolation. I really did feel as if I had reached some sort of edge of the world. We went in and out of the Chase more than once but we rarely saw other people. We could go to the lighthouses and the keeper would be the only person we saw. We could go to the beaches and there might be someone else on the beach but it didn't surprise us if there was nobody else. Most of the island was a half wild place. 

Tourism has changed that and it has threatened some of the unique wildlife. The fires did even more damage. I remember those shy little dunnarts peering out and then backing away again so quickly. I remember the cockatoos high in the dead trees they like to use for their nests. I remember some of the other birds too. 

It's all worth saving.  

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