"One hundred and ten thousand brushtail possums, 30,000 pademelons, 16,000 wallabies. More than 3000 Tasmanian Devils. At least 300,000 mammals and birds are killed every year. That's an average of one every two minutes, just in Tasmania". Mark Horstman - Catalyst ABC, Thursday 21 April, 2011.
This is really sad isn't it...
I have been known to say that I don't think I belong to this world, mostly because I am way too sensitive and am affected by things that most people don't even blink an eye over. I know there are other people out there like me, that care deeply about this planet and every living thing that inhabits it.
Wild, rural and domestic animals are as much part of our landscape as plants, in fact many can't live without the other. The human aspect, on the other hand, is the most destructive on both these fronts. I'm sorry to say but sometimes I despair for the human race, the utter ignorance and arrogance shown by many is really hard to accept, especially for sensitive types like myself who wishes people would just 'get it', who wishes every single living person on this planet was situationally aware and gave a damn!
I'm passionate about many things and do what I can in my own small way to make a difference but roadkill would have to be one of the things that really affects me. To think of the above statistics multiplied worldwide and by all the different species, it is too sad to think about. Fortunately, one person is - Dr Alistair Hobday has been looking at roadkill in Tasmania and I saw his story reported on Catalyst the other night. For more information and to get involved, go here (Roadkill Tasmania website). For a national view this might help, although I haven't read and am a bit uncertain about its contents I still think it would have some beneficial information... and for an international view then a read of the Wikipedia entry for Roadkill is well worth it.
What do you do when you see an animal on the side of the road? I stop and make sure it is dead and not just injured. If it is a large animal (i.e. smallest would be a cat or small dog) I call my local council with the details and have them come and collect it. If it is a domestic animal I look for a collar with tag so I can call the owners but apparently if it is micro-chipped it is scanned at council and the owners are notified. I also carry a packet of rubber gloves in my car and if the animal is in the middle of the road I move it off to the side of the road to stop it getting ground into the bitumen and also to prevent scavengers from meeting the same fate, should they venture onto a busy road to eat it.
The wildlife that is killed is phenomenal but often domestic animals are killed too. I think it's so incredibly sad that these animals are left to die all alone on the road, usually so close to home (whether that home is natural or man-made). As far as domestic animals are concerned this loss could so easily be reduced or eliminated altogether by keeping cats in at night and not letting dogs roam around alone during the day. Cats are by nature nocturnal animals with an instinct to hunt and kill. So if they don't get killed themselves chances are one of our precious wild animals will... and don't think dogs don't kill, they don't mind a good hunt themselves and around here I've heard many accounts of blue tongue's meeting their fate this way.
I like the efforts of people like Dr Alistair Hobday, to bring about awareness and create change through detailed research which can then be used in educating the wider community. I wish this could take place on a global scale. I wish people actually felt that the loss of life of just one animal is important, I wouldn't put it up their with the loss of a human life but it is a pretty close second for me.
Let's hope his research, findings and programme effect significant change. I'd like to sound really positive but sadly, even though I wholeheartedly support his efforts, I'm a little cynical when it comes to humans as history shows us that people don't give a toss about animals on the road, they see them as a nuisance and negligible in most cases and at worse are used as targets just for kicks...
So what will you do next time you see an animal on the side of the road? I hope you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.