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?
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.
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?
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