New Zealand's shameful nature record

Last updated 09:28 13/07/2012

New Zealand is a nation of nature-lovers. We more than people from any other country, have a connection to our landscapes and wildlife that quite simply defines our national identity. That is why our native wildlife adorns our tea towels, jewellery, designer clothing and export products. But sadly, there is a darker side to our citizenry, who don't see things quite the same way.

I'm talking about conservation criminals. Those in New Zealand who think it's perfectly acceptable to destroy and dismember our native wildlife with no thought for their welfare. 

This week we've seen two separate incidents of such vile behaviour. Let's start with the degenerates who shot and ran over a baby seal in Dargaville. WTF? seriously? First you shoot it and then you aim your vehicle at it? Beyond belief that one. Or is it?

Run over seal pup Dargaville (stuff.co.nz)

We had it a few years ago with All Black Andrew Hore thinking it perfectly OK to take a semi-automatic rifle and shoot at protected fur seals. Then in 2011, we had the two guys in Kaikoura who simply clubbed a couple of dozen fur seals (including day-old pups) to death. Stupidly, both of these atrocities took place in areas where tourists went to see the wildlife on a daily basis.  In Andrew Hore and his mates' case, their crime was actually filmed by eco-tourists from the shore. The footage was horrendous - they didn't just have one go from their boat, they repositioned and went back for another angle.

shot kaka Auckland Zoo x-ray

Sadly, this awful behaviour has gone on for years. I've seen images a Hector's dolphin on the West Coast simply filleted like a fish (didn't want to link to that photo, it's awful), there were the kea that were shot and then dumped in Arthur's Pass and there have been numerous reports of native birds like our endangered falcons shot for the hell of it.

Also on our wall-of-shame this week, a kaka barely escaped with its life on Great Barrier Island after being shot in the wing and ending it's high-flying antics forever. Luckily some surgery from the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine and a new home at the wonderful Auckland Zoo will ensure it has a safe and well-looked after life from now on, since it would never have survived in the wild with a shotgun pellet embedded in its wing. 

I think cruelty to animals in any way shape or form is heinous, and we certainly see a lot of it with domestic wildlife which is also inexcusable, but in my view to do it to our unique native wildlife adds another level of outrage.

So what is going on here? Who are these people that couldn't care less about our native wildlife and how are they not getting the message that the animals here in New Zealand are precious, unique and something we should all be proud of?  Isn't our wildlife in enough trouble from introduced predators and habitat destruction without having to worry about ignorant humans targeting it as well? What do you think about our native wildlife welfare record and where are we going wrong?

- Stuff

12 comments
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Ken B   #1   09:44 am Jul 13 2012

The majority of New Zealanders agree with and abide by requirements for conservation. Certainly the majority of New Zealanders are not cruel to animals. Again we are being dragged down by the minority whose activities are publicised to the point where everybody is tarred by them.

The problem is that any society has these type of people and there is probably no way of ridding us of them. They are like a disease. You can try to cure it but that disease will always be around.

Karlos   #2   10:04 am Jul 13 2012

Sad.

For a start - much tougher penalties are needed for the inbreeds that do things like this.

JM   #3   10:08 am Jul 13 2012

Wish all those morons who like shooting endangered wildlife would consider taking on possums instead!

kirstylb   #4   10:15 am Jul 13 2012

I am certainly not downplaying these particularly horrendous acts, but I do think you are over dramatising it. Just because some ignorant idiots choose to do these things does not mean the whole society is going to hell.

I believe that generally a large percentage of New Zealanders care a lot about our native wildlife. Keep up the continuing education and introduce stronger penalties (way too low currently) for when people do act like this.

Alan_Wilkinson   #5   11:08 am Jul 13 2012

Considering the things some so-called humans do to each other and their children its hardly surprising these creeps also mistreat animals.

I don't think its a good idea to make a distinction between wildlife and domesticated animals. All of them deserve to be treated humanely and with respect. More to the point, all our children deserve to be brought up to love, enjoy and respect other creatures. (I do except cockroaches.)

Ron   #6   11:33 am Jul 13 2012

It seems to me that there is a deep vein running through NZ culture that possibly harks back to 19th century attitudes and much of relates to our heritage of primary industries. Seals and dolphins eat fish so are perceived as threat. Kea (wrongly I understand) are perceived as a threat to sheep. Native trees are a resource for wood and/or get in the way of pine forests and paddocks. Even whales are perceived that way. Shoot them, kill them, cut them down, eat them, get them out of the picture so we can clear more land for cows or more ocean to strip of fish. Those attitudes now pervade the conciousness of New Zealanders so that a nice tree in a suburban garden is a nuisance rather than an asset, pukekos in paddocks are pests and it's ok to kill anything whether it is an actual pest or not. The scorched earth approach to development.

seal   #7   04:26 pm Jul 13 2012

people are mean!

Mahara   #8   01:02 pm Jul 14 2012

Punishments for offenders (when they can actually be caught) are far too lenient. Some people are against the adage of "An eye for an eye" but in cases like these I think they would be more fitting. Club a seal? You get clubbed by the jury. Shoot a bird in the wing? round in the shoulder. Run over an animal? Get pinned down while a horde of people rides over you on bicycles. Gut a dolphin... well, we want them to live with the shame, right...? huge tattoo on their stomach stating "I'm a callous butchering b***ard who guts endangered marine life".

Harsh, yes. But if the punishment is harsh (and more witnesses are encouraged to dob offenders in) we could hope that a few more people would think twice before attacking an animal that can't defend itself.

Let's also not forget that studies show people who torture or hurt animals are much more likely to go on to commit violent crimes against people.

Tim   #9   10:41 pm Jul 14 2012

Hi, new here but just a wee story. I was driving my log truck over the hills in the Rotoiti( Nelson) area one morning in the dark when I saw a bird fly out in front of me and hit the front of my truck. I was doing about 90 kph so didnt hold much hope for it but I backed up anyway and it was just standing on the side of the road. Long story short it spent the next 6 hrs wrapped in my jacket on the passenger floor and endured a rough, noisy ride until I managed to get near a DOC officer who dropped it to a vet and nursed it back to health. See, contrary to our reputation some truck drivers do care for New Zealands nature.

Jenna   #10   07:07 am Jul 16 2012

It should be easier to convict people of animal abuse. I've never heard of a serious punishment for abusing animals in New Zealand, it makes me sad. People that are open to hurting animals for fun are also quite likely to offend in the same manner against people so you would think in our people focused government/society that might make people take notice but sadly this isn't the case. Thanks for bringing this matter up Nicola.


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