Getting to know the neighbours

Despite all of man’s attempts to self-destruct, the war-zone pyrotechnics of the horrendously expensive fireworks and more than a dash of budget altering Johnny Walker’s mountain water, we’ve made it into 2014! But I have to ask, am I alone in noticing how over the passing decades, our moral values have plummeted to the extent that we don’t care about anything apart from today? Once upon a time, any environmental catastrophe was termed an ‘act of God’ but nowadays, because they’re so commonplace, we use that term to describe the winning of a bye-election or a sports trophy. Great extinctions aside, before man came along, earthquakes, violent storms, avalanches and floods were natural occurrences that were followed by a rapid recovery of the damaged environment. But since we arrived and started re-engineering the creator’s work, the frequency of such events has increased exponentially, yet we continue unabated to build new foundations for our further self-destruction. Unquestionably, man’s hand can be seen in the wake of most modern disasters – the Mississippi floods, the Filipino and Japanese tsunamis, the South American mud slides and the carnage along known earthquake fault lines to name a few. Were it not for human greed, death counts in all of these events could have been negligible – maybe that’s the hidden answer to population control?

Whew, how’s that for a depressing scenario? No matter folks, I know you can handle it and anyway I needed a starting point to work from, sorry it took till half way through the article to get there. Our limbless friends, like most animals, have a job to do, and although aware of the need to bring new life into the mix, they’re mindful of the fact that their progeny will need food when they emerge – consequently some species are able to, say in a drought year, separate the mating and fertilisation processes until conditions improve. Others don’t procreate until there is food available – no Red Cross handouts in their world. Because of man’s need to provide food for his unchecked and rapidly burgeoning population, he has to artificially ‘manufacture’ it – ‘chickens’ that contain 60% water and weigh over 2kgs at three weeks, fruit and veggies that either never ripen or alternatively rot on the plate whilst you’re eating them. In his quest to meet the demand, man creates this costly Frankenstein food that purports to replace the ‘real thing’, thereby bypassing the traditional food chain and negating the need for the traditional plant pollinating animals and supporting predatorial players. After all, what’s the point of having frogs, birds, insects, snakes etc. when we don’t need them? My fervent wish is that one day we’ll catch on before it’s too late – hopefully in my lifetime.

On Christmas day we had the pleasure of releasing two Spotted Rock snakes into the Inanda gorge, a food abundant and relatively man-free habitat.

© pat mckrill. 2013
herpet@eastcoast.co.za
Cell: 0833036958
Home: 031-7851410

Spotted rock snakes  Photo Colleen Easton

Spotted rock snakes relocating. Pic: Colleen Easton