While visiting the Wairarapa region of New Zealand, I went to the Pukaha Mount Bruce national wildlife centre. This is primarily a location where they assist with the conservation of native species, including many of NZ’s birds.
One of the highlights is undoubtedly the native Kaka, a woodland parrot. They sure know when feeding time is and queue up in the trees for 3pm. Clever, and beautiful, birds. Hopefully one day they (and others) will be able to spread out across NZ once more as mammalian pests are brought under closer control. These Kaka are wild but sure know where they are best to hang out!
An invasive species to NZ but here is a cute Rainbow Skink. This cheeky little chap was posing while sunning himself on some concrete outside the house one day…thank goodness for 100x zoom and a steady hand!
I can just imagine him thinking “Has he seen me? Perhaps if I stand really still he’ll go away.”
The Uga (pronounced “unga” in Niuean) is also known as the coconut crab or robber crab. This is the largest land-living arthropod in the world and is cherished and prized by the Niuean people (they even have crab races).
The Uga is a crab which lives on land for its adult life, indeed it cannot swim, and yet the eggs are released into the ocean to start their own circle of life. It grows to a fair size for a scavenger…and I have to confess to having tried it in a restaurant, wherein I found that it tasted really good too.
Please note that I did not eat the crab I am holding, and indeed these particular crabs are trained to be tame (by the chap with the dreadlocks) and are used to being handled. You have to be rather respectful of anything with pincers of that size (and slow down if they are crossing the road)!
I was at Auckland Zoo recently and noticed a sign regarding the desire to try to eliminate the containing of palm oil in the products we buy on a day-to-day basis. The intention of this is to help mitigate against the clearance of native forest in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and more – simply to allow space for the farming of palm oil. This forest clearance is removing habitat for many species such as the well-known Orangutan.
Some people may say “Why should I care?”, to that I would suggest that if we continue to rape the natural world without a second thought then our surroundings will be particularly desolate, dull and colourless one day in the future – and who knows if we might just need one of these species one day? Don’t other species have as much right to their little corner of the Earth as we do? A more selfish angle might be to think about how bacteria are fighting back against antibiotics…who knows where the next magic drug will come from.
Of course, often the countries supplying such products and the people living there are in want of the money that rich western companies and countries will provide, so the most important thing is to try to strike the right balance to give everyone and every species a fair go. Sustainability is everything.
So how do you eliminate palm oil from your shopping? Please look at the photo below and do some research for your own country’s labelling. To start with, try to buy alternatives where any ingredients show something relating to “palm” in them. I guess that is the end of my palmolive soap purchasing for a start…and Bisto gravy granules too (a sad day indeed).
Together we might all make a difference for our and for future generations to enjoy.
I was contemplating recently those moments in life when you feel a sense of total peace, perhaps some people would relate it as a spiritual experience. For me, I think those moments are generally involving communing with the natural world – other species who have total freedom of whether they are near you or not, or interact with you or not, especially in a world where humans predate or deliberately trample on so many of those species without a second thought…considering ourselves superior…for food or sport or otherwise.
It is unusual for me to feel those kind of things with people, but occasionally that can happen too. I guess hugs with loved ones or close friends can achieve a similar feeling. Those moments tend to be quiet also, words having no part in it, fuelling that peace.
In New Zealand, it is notable that a number of the native species (the diurnal ones at least!) are quite trusting and will not be quite so fearful of humanity as the UK. Even introduced species somehow seem more “friendly” as a rule…while keeping their distance. Whether this is because of a later arrival of mankind and differing attitudes or the fact that mankind is proactively working to save so many species in NZ, who knows! Perhaps we should just put it down as a superb outcome and enjoy the mystery and inner peace it can bring.
As the southerly winds whipped up their seasonal force and chill; and began to topple the leaves from the tree in the garden in ever greater numbers, requiring me to get out there with a rake once more…I was amazed to find a fully intact birds nest woven from natural and man-made materials such as moss, grass, fishing line (I think) and some sort of white fibres. Such a thing of beauty that it seemed such a shame that it couldn’t now be used again.
I am 99% certain it is the nest of the silvereye (pictured below), one of the smaller garden visitors. Beautiful olive green little bird which makes awesome constructions to boot!
I must confess that I don’t know much about these little guys (maybe about 1cm long) but they are quite fun to watch up close in the garden. This one seemed to start displaying to my camera by tilting its wings from side to side as I zoomed in, and even jumped onto the lens to get better acquainted. Beautiful colours and patterns, and they can jump like they have jets in their little legs!