Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Location, Location, Location

Would you rent an apartment above a shop called ‘Reptile Ocean Inc’? I wouldn’t. Sadly it appears two boys, 5 and 7, were killed in their sleep by an escaped python from the reptile store beneath their apartment. That must have been a big snake to think it needed to kill two boys… Snakes are not vindictive as far as I know. They kill for food or to defend themselves. I can’t imagine the snake finding two sleeping, harmless, non-threatening boys and killing them because it felt threatened. There appears from the brief report no attempt to eat either and surely, the snake would kill one and then attempt to swallow it, then lie down and digest?

I think there is more to this story than we have been told so far. The photo on the left is of a baby swallowed by a python in Edo, Nigeria. To give you an idea of scale, check out the kid using the snake as a bean bag.

Pit Bull Kills Girl

Yesterday in Melbourne a pit bull savaged and killed a four year old girl as she clung, screaming and terrified, to her mother’s leg. As a parent and having five girls of my own ranging from nearly 2 to nearly 13 my heart goes out to Jaclin Apuk Awen, who fought the dog with her bare hands to try and save little Ayen Chol. My wife asked what could she do it it were her and I had to think hard. These pit bulls are not easy to kill, and make no mistake you would have to kill it to stop it. They are bred for one thing and that is killing and they lock on and never let go once they get a grip. They are savage beasts that have no place in civilized society. None whatsoever.

I told my wife that she would have to grab a back leg and lift the dog up and break the leg, I showed her how to snap it at the ankle joint or rip the knee from the hip, then crush the testicles if it is a male dog and then, if it lets go, smash it against the ground until it is dead. Of course, it takes strength to do this and the dog will not stand still. It will be a whirling dervish and you will get badly bitten but hopefully you will save your child. I said if you poked the eye as she suggested, you must insert your thumbs and pop the eyeball out but the dog will likely keep biting and tearing, even when blind. She said to choke it but they have such strong neck muscles so I said if it were me and I could drop my weight onto the neck I would but the dog will not be stationary, it will be moving and hard to pin down. This is what they are bred to do, albeit against other dogs.

My father taught me to grab the front legs and pull them apart and tear the dog’s heart but I would hesitate to put my face so close to the dog’s to get such a grip. If the opportunity presented itself, though, I would try that or, if I had a belt or shirt I could use to entangle the dog, or strangle it with, I would use that. I once fought off a pit bull like dog that attacked my own and all I could find to help was an empty soft drink can. I beat the dog with that but it would not let go. I tore the can in half and used the sharp edge against its throat, slicing and hacking, all the while my puppy screaming and the owner yelling at me not to hurt his dog. Too bad. The dog finally let go after I had slashed half its face off. The owner wanted to sue me once he realised he would lose if he tried to fight me, I made a terrible sight, covered with dog’s blood and still pumped with adrenalin from the fight. In the end he just walked away and I took my puppy home to clean his wounds.. and mine.

The owners of these dogs are too often gutless thugs with no brains who think by having such a ‘tough’ dog it makes them tough. It doesn’t and they don’t have the brains or the common sense to control the animal and be able to keep it under control all the time. Those people who believe they are sensible and reasonable and argue the case for having such dogs are little better than the thug owners, just more articulate. These fighting breeds are all about stroking the egos of men who otherwise have nothing else in their lives as civilization has passed them by. Certain ethnic groups get their kicks at illegal dog fights. Close by where I live they hold them on secluded semi-rural properties and the men who attend these fights are basically either evil or dumb or both. Some of these people even steal large dogs such as German Shepherds and Rottweilers to fight their Pit Bulls, Tosas and other fighting breeds.

I usually stand up against calls to ban anything, preferring to live and let live believing people can choose to take part or not. But these dogs have no purpose other than to kill and their owners have no right to hold that power over others unless we have the means to defend ourselves properly from them. Since we can’t carry handguns, that means the dogs must go. Every time a child is savaged or killed the call goes out and is ignored due to a lack of political guts. How many more children must we lose before our elected representatives take action? The law is not enough because it relies on the owners to control the dog and they can’t, won’t or simply  don’t. I know any dog, even our little poodle, can turn and savage, even kill, a child. But he isn’t built for killing nor is he bred for it and he is a lot easier to defend against than a pit bull. If you want these dogs for hunting then go live in the bush, there is nothing to hunt here. If you want a dog to guard your home, then buy and properly train a suitable animal with a balanced temperament. Oh, proper training requires time, energy, effort and often money. All too hard. Better to just swagger along with the dog and your tatts and your caveman attitude.

Rest In Peace, Olga Moskalyova

Incredible as it sounds, a young Russian woman was eaten alive by bears and called her mother on her mobile phone while it was happening. The mother bear killed her stepfather, then chased her and knocked her down. She managed to call her mother on her cell phone and described how the bear came back with her three cubs and continued to eat Olga. Her story is chilling and very disturbing, but it happened. It was a tragic example of one of the Avenues of Harm – Nature, that we so often forget. We are so desensitized by television and wildlife documentaries we forget these are, indeed, wild animals. It is nothing personal for them, a matter of survival but none the less horrific or tragic.

One can only begin to imagine the sheer terror she experienced until shock set in and she would have become calm. She states she no longer felt any pain, but to have suffered for so long is truly tragic. What is so very touching and speaks so much for the character of the young lady is that she asked her mother to forgive her for any sins she may have committed. I’m sure she was a good daughter and a lovely human being and along with her stepfather, will be sadly missed. As disturbing as this story is, I have published it here for two reasons. First, so that we all remember that nature is not a theme park, it is dangerous and it can take your life. Second, that while Olga Moskalyova died alone, she is not forgotten and her death should stand to remind us all of how precious life is. Go and hug your kids.

 

Nature Of The Beast

A poor child in Florida is dead, strangled by a large Burmese python. Her mother and mother’s boyfriend are charged with her death as they were responsible for the family pet, and the fact it hadn’t been fed for a month. Under the usual overkill that passes for law in the USA, they face up to 35 years in a, no doubt  private profit center, prison for their stupidity. When you can buy shares in prisons it makes sense to have lots of people in them for long periods of time, that’s capitalism at work. It also lets you get tough on crime and as most crime is done by dumb people without the income to hire a proper lawyer, it is a remote risk to the well off right that vote for any judge, sheriff or politician who advocates more of this ‘justice’.

But what justice does the poor toddler get? She is dead. The snake has a better chance of being saved by animal rights activists than she ever had of being able to graduate high school. The dumb people who were responsible for her well being, and the snake’s are now looking down the barrel of life behind bars. And the winner is…?

The Enemy WIthin

Imagine being eaten alive by tiny worms with sharp teeth, crawling under your skin and living as long as 15 years until they get to your brain? This is not the plot of a science-fiction novel but what actually happened to a couple after eating fish they caught in a river in Western Australia.

We face the threat of harm from nature in many ways, not just the big, sharp toothed predators we can see, but also those we can’t see. Just 1-3mm long, these worms get the job done and in the days before anti-biotics were just another of the many myriad ways man could meet his maker.

It Was The Dog That Died

Actually, it wasn’t a dog but the owner of a fighting rooster that died when he tried to force his bird back into the ring after a match in India. The fighting cocks have razor sharp knives tied to their legs and the struggling bird succeeded in slashing the throat of the owner, causing him to bleed to death. The bird is on the run and is yet to be found and have the blades removed.

Cock fighting is a major gambling activity in many parts of the world and in the Philippines is the national sport, vying with basketball for the attention  of the local men. It is bloody and brutal and very lucrative with huge sums of money wagered as well as invested in breeding stock and scientific feed development.

We in  the west might see this tragic death as poetic justice but that is to judge these people by our standards in a western societal context. Is that fair given they are neither westerners nor have the same society as we in which to try their fortune? In the 18th century, an Irishman named Oliver Goldsmith, once described as an ‘inspired idiot’, wrote an elegy to a mad dog.  The mad dog bit a man but in the end, ‘It was the dog that died.’ Here we have a case of the man forcing the rooster to risk its life fighting in the arena with razor blades tied to its legs and yet it was the man that died.

Irony aside, the man no doubt fed, clothed, housed and educated his wife and children from the winnings of that rooster, not to forget amused himself as he went from cradle to grave with less to look forward to as far as opportunity goes than the average western man.  While some among us will cheer for the rooster, what does that say about those in our society that have so little to challenge their daily existence they need to root for the rooster and mock the man?

Monkey Murderer

In Malaysia a four day old baby was taken from her crib, bitten on the face and neck and then hurled to her death from the roof of the house in Seramban. The murderer was a Macaque monkey. Tragic and not something one might consider when assessing the risks a new born faces in your own home. Unless you live in Malaysia.

Having lived not far from the location for several years I know wild life is a hazard, even in built up urban areas. In Singapore we had a 20 foot long python emerge from a drain and cross the road towards our block of flats before it was driven over by a taxi and then collected in the cab’s boot and taken away for supper. Snakes were just one hazard faced, in Malaysia monkeys are common and quite often carry rabies and other diseases. They have large canine fangs and are not shy in using them against humans.

As a tourist in Bali I was one of many that visited the monkey forest and laughed as they clambered over the visitors seeking peanuts and other treats. It was all very amusing until one lady decided her handbag was not to be taken and rifled through by a large male. He turned on her and savaged her hands and face in seconds, leaving her bleeding, infected and without her handbag.

By all means do the tourist thing but never let yourself  forget these are wild animals. Even ‘domesticated’ monkeys, kept chained up as a pet or amusement by the hotel you stay at can turn nasty in a heartbeat. So would you if you were stuck there all your life.

In Bangkok I watched a young elephant, brought into the city to beg for food by its owner, spit the dummy and run amok, crashing into cars, knocking over motorbikes and generally behaving badly. Try stopping a couple of hundred kilos of peeved pachyderm!

Animals are great, I love them to bits but I don’t trust them, especially the cuddly looking ones. A boat was holed and sunk by a whale off the Western Australian coast the other day and the three crew spent hours in rough seas until rescued. Don’t let the Save The Whales message make you forget they are large and powerful creatures and not to be messed with when in their element and your boat is smaller than they are. Hey, I don’t even pat my own dog! (kidding).

Boxing Kangaroos A Reality

I was doing some research on the risks faced by real estate agents when they show houses to people unknown to them when I came across this story about a Canberra based agent. He was out for a run during his lunch break when he was attacked by a kangaroo and knocked unconscious. The story continued with a report on a kangaroo that broke into a family home and hopped around wreaking havoc until wrestled out of the house by the home owner.

There are two points to be made here. First of all there are hazards in every occupation and often not ones we might foresee. I admit the jogger could have been an ice cream salesman out for a run and not a real estate agent but it goes to show no matter what your occupation, your time going to, at and from work can be perilous in various ways.  The second point is that even when in your own home you are not entirely safe from harm and who would ever have prepared a contingency plan for a kangaroo breaking in? Not me!

The lesson is that your safety can be at risk at any time, in any place from any number of causes. You can never prepare 100% for any and all eventualities so don’t worry too much about this. Don’t abandon all risk analysis and preparation but do accept you can’t proof yourself and your loved ones against everything. And stay away from kangaroos!

I Told You They Weren’t Cuddly!

For many years people have been oohing and ahhing at the sight of whales migrating up and down the coast, there is even a whale watching industry and legislation regulating how close you are allowed to get to the whale. I’m sure they have similar laws in South Africa but one of the whales there either hadn’t read the law or decided to become an outlaw whale.

This whale dived under a yacht and came up, breached and fell onto the yacht’s deck. The animal dismasted the boat and scared the couple on board who were lucky to be able to make it back to shore. No doubt they will be blubbering about this escape for years to come. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun)

I remember reading a book some years ago about a family that were sunk by killer whales off the Galapagos Islands and spent 38 days in their liferaft and dinghy before being rescued. I have also read of adolescent male dolphins sexually assaulting humans in otherwise friendly interactions between us mammals. Yet people insist whales are harmless creatures and all so wonderful and how horrible is it that the Japanese, Norwegians and Icelanders eat them?

The thing is, whales are wild creatures and very large. Not only that the sea is their element and while attacks or even perhaps misunderstood interactions are rare, they do happen and they can be lethal. Part of the problem lies with the media, as usual. The plethora of excellent wildlife documentaries on cable tv give many a false sense of safety, such as that bottle top who tried to sit on the 5m crocodile last week.

Most people forget that the makers of these documentaries have years of experience as well as local guides to keep them safe. Even then they usually use telephoto lenses and keep a safe distance. Those that get close enough to touch really do know what they are doing. Of course, the animal might not be as experienced in dealing with humans and their reactions might be somewhat unpredictable. With an animal weighing thousands of kilograms and you in a floating Tupperware container, ‘unpredictable’ takes on new menace.

Just When You Thought You’d Seen It All MkI

That's a bird disappearing in the change tray of the machine!

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada there is a coin operated car wash that was losing money. Big money, but all from the coin machines used to give change to operate the car wash. The owner accused the company that had installed the system of having staff with keys who were coming around after hours and ripping off the coin machine. Not a nice thing to say so worth setting up a sting operation with some cameras and seeing who gets caught in the act.

The thief turned out to be birds. Several of them were getting inside the machine and emerging with several quarters at a time. A search of the rafters and roof of the car wash found over $4,000 in 25 cent pieces (16,000 plus)! Crime is everywhere apparently and you can never be sure just who it is that is ripping you off!

And coming out with the loot!

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