…………about the awe I feel on the rare occasion that I get to see a ‘wild’ animal in its natural habitat here in our southwest. There is something so grounding in the witnessing of a native creature going about the fundamental everyday routine of simply keeping alive. Instinctive, alert, responsive, camouflaged, equipped with its own peculiar defence mechanisms, armed with the wit and intelligence with which evolution has endowed it, tailor-made to ensure the survival of its species, tragically oblivious to its most dire threat………. the presence of man, for which evolution could not have prepared it.
Man, the destroyer, the trampler, the plunderer, the poisoner, the polluter, the user, the fool, marching ever forward in his mindless greedy desecration of this land and the creatures who lived here for many thousands of years undisturbed and unthreatened – until less than a hundred years ago.
To catch a glimpse of just one native creature in the bush, one yellow robin, one woylie, maybe one chuditch, gives me a feeling of euphoria and at the same time, immense sadness – well not so much sadness as desperation. I can’t help but compare my occasional singular sightings to the experiences my grandparents would have had.
They sailed here
from England in the early 1920’s as Group Settlers. Like so many others, my
grandparents were lured across the ocean by the infamous Mitchell and his cohorts
to populate and develop the wilderness that was the southwest. (But that’s another
story). Issued with a pick and a shovel and a few sheets of corrugated iron,
it was the beginning of a hard new life for the settlers – the beginning of
a hard annihilation for the forests and the creatures that had populated this
region for timeless eons.
It’s taken an astonishingly short time, this annihilation. In less than a hundred years we’ve decimated an utterly unique and diverse pocket of this continent. We have brought majestic forests to their knees, a great many creatures to the brink of extinction, and tragically, some over the brink. And still the mindless march of the developers goes on, and foolhardy mistakes continue to cause desecration of the land and its creatures. And still, sadly, we allow them to.
But imagine the profusion of wildlife those first settlers witnessed. The bush was alive with all manner of creatures many of us have never even heard of, let alone seen. The experiences my grandparents had and the wildlife they saw were for their generation alone. Did they realise their grandchildren would never have the opportunity to see what they saw? Did it occur to them that they were standing on a line that would separate thousands upon thousands of years of untouched magic from a future of such bleak devastation? Did they realise it would happen so quickly?
Do we? Yet?
What will our