Watch out Kiwi Duck Hunters ....Daffy has a gun!

You're figuring this little duck is in a hunting mood?

Opening morning here for the start of the New Zealand Duck Shooting Season. I heard a couple of shots this morning - but the weather well is less than friendly to the hunters today. My big dam down the back of the farm will be filling up with ducks over the next few weeks...

And the Mad Bomber Duck will be setting those charges.....


Legalise tiger trade to save species, economist urges or did he really say that?

I've changed this first part of my post. Dr Moyle in fact wrote a paper about the Black Market Trade in China. I've read an early draft of this paper and have also had a comment on this post concerning the Herald's Report as follows:

A large part of the problem with this article is simply, tiger farming isn't what the research about. I wrote two lines about tiger farms in a paper that actually detailed the organisation of the black market in tiger products. That's what the research was about.

Nothing to do with Keynesian economics, and a fair bit about me putting my arse on the line in smuggling hot-spots.

The poaching problem is that it has many tiger populations on the fast-track to extinction. That hasn't changed in a long time.

TV3 News has written a more accurate view of Brendan Moyles' paper and research into the Black Market Trade in China. At no point in my own reading of the early draft version is there any suggestion that Tiger Farming was an option. It was mentioned in a brief sentence as being an option by the Chinese Government however there was strong opposition to this. I haven't read the final paper but going on the early draft version at no time does Brendan Moyle make any of the suggestions the Herald report below has reported. I would suggest reading the TV3 News Item concerning Dr Moyles Paper on the Black Market Trade in China.

Legalise tiger trade to save species, economist urges

4:00AM Saturday May 02, 2009
By Lincoln Tan
Brendan Moyle argues a market-driven approach is the most effective way of saving the tiger from extinction. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Brendan Moyle argues a market-driven approach is the most effective way of saving the tiger from extinction. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Massey University lecturer Brendan Moyle is on a one-man mission to save the tigers.

After a "secret mission" to uncover the truth behind the illegal trade in tiger products in China, the wildlife economics expert says the only way to save the animal from extinction is to legalise the tiger trade and convince the Chinese that the big cats "can make them a whole lot of money".

The trade in tiger parts has been subject to an international ban since 1987 and has been outlawed in China since 1989, but Dr Moyle says conservation and legislation have not worked and wants to see tigers farmed and trade in them legalised, just like crocodiles.

"In the 1970s, two-thirds of crocodiles [species] were endangered. Now only one-third are, and this is largely because we have legalised the trade and turned them into handbags, belts and by putting them on the menu," Dr Moyle said.

"When we go to the locals telling them that crocodiles are worth a lot of money, we get more crocodiles. What we should be doing now is going to the Chinese and convincing them that tigers are also worth a lot of money."

Dr Moyle, who has made three visits to China for his covert operation, wants tiger farming "back on the discussion table" because it would also prove to be the most sustainable option to satisfy demand without threatening the wild tiger population.

"Conservationists are failing to get to grips with the market drivers. The issue is about markets, not about zoology. This is the way to save the species," Dr Moyle said.

"Tiger farming is not the feel-good solution, but we farm crocodiles, deer, salmon, so what makes tigers so special?

"The potential benefit is that it may cause some consumers to leave the black market and switch to legally sourced ones."

China is one of the world's biggest markets for tigers, which are prized for their skin and body parts, especially bones, which some Chinese believe to be effective in treating severe bone diseases. A whole tiger can fetch up to $90,000.

Despite global conservation efforts, which Dr Moyle says cost $177 million a year, the numbers continue to decline, mostly because of illegal hunting and human encroachment.

The World Wildlife Fund estimated last year that there were only about 3500 tigers left in the wild, compared with 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.

Education will be ineffective because the Chinese have used tiger parts for centuries, Dr Moyle said.

Dr Moyle has prepared a paper, which has been published in the journal Global Crime, saying there is no single black market for tiger products, but rather a market with geographical separation for two products - skin and bones.

Since the 1980s, a number of tiger farms have been set up in China and are believed to house 5000 captive tigers - possibly more than those which remain in the wild.

But some international conservation groups, such as the Environmental Investigation Agency, remain opposed to farming tigers as a means to combat poaching. They argue it would be cheaper to kill a wild tiger than to rear a captive one.

NZ Customs investigations manager Terry Brown said trading detected here involved mainly birds and reptiles, not tiger parts.


* Only 3500 left in the wild compared with 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.
* Hunted and poached for their skin as well as their bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
* Trading in tiger parts subject to international ban since 1987 and outlawed in China since 1989.

How to save the tigers:
Lift the ban, encourage more tiger farming and convince the locals that tigers "are worth a lot of money".

Sourced: NZ Herald Herald Website


Walking my ....Cow?

I'm wondering at that title..hmm. You read lovely posts about taking the dogs through the forest exploring nature and all the wonders it beholds. But I don't have dogs I have cats that walk with me. Well not this time..this time I walked my cow? On the way I took this shot - out of focus but I liked it enough to keep it for now. This part is down further on the farm into the native bush - with the rain in recent days we've actually now got flowing water once more instead of dried nothingness with the poor fresh water crayfish gasping their last. We rescued heaps over summer and put them into the big dam. Lucky we did or they would have all carked it - softy aren't I. Too soft. Walking your cow is a fine art I think. Patience...that had to come in spades. River was still in the bush long after the others had come up when I called so I had to go looking for her.
I found her down amongst the trees on the other side of the stream and River wasn't in any hurry to leave. So after trudging through knee deep mud and heck knows what else I made it over the other side and took my cow for a walk - literally. Unlike most cows River has remained very very tame and follows me anywhere. She still thinks I'm her mother - which is a problem when the former baby weighs several hundred kilos, has very sharp horns and is expecting a baby herself. Grandma to a cow..okay anyone called the men with the white coats yet? She followed me right through the bush and back into the paddock where I wanted her. If I say wait she waits. If I say come on River will follow. And they say cows are dumb? Not that dumb. Whenever the grass runs low River will bellow her head off until I get my lazy backside moving and change the cows paddock. How's that for a cow having brains. I don't need to chase her or the others - except for Stream. Now and then Stream decides to be difficult. Show her the cattle stick and she's suddenly doing as her told..wonder why....
The Terrorist turned 9 months old on the 29th of April. Still very very cute and very very small even for a Jersey. Technically she should have gone on the bobby calf truck to the meatworks at a week old - which is what happens to the bull calves on large dairy farms plus the heifers that aren't going to be economic to raise. People say it's cruel to kill little calves - I can think of worse things. Some places overseas apparently keep calves in crates? Raise them for a few months then send them to slaughter. I'd rather see them put down while they're still small. Last year when Gilly turned up with the Terrorist I told her to put the calf back in her truck and put it on the bobby truck - she was so small! Anyway the kids were the ones that made Mum end up taking the little calf in and the Terrorist became my twice a day task..groan. No she'll never leave. And she'll be just like River. I won't walk one cow there'll be two.
Emerald had been sick for the last ten days. In the end I took her to the vets last Friday. After many doses of antibiotics, clawed hands and lots of growling for the last few days the kitty has finally improved. It turned out she had been eating grass and sticks - so a big dose of Kat Lax did the trick. Enough said there. She's happy again now and I'm not getting ripped up by her very very sharp claws. I took this shot the other day. Emerald had been sleeping a lot - now she's better I think Sasquatch is going to be picked on again.
And finally we got the paper sorted out finished and printed down at the Maungaturoto Country Club. It's not the New York Times but our community enjoy reading it - I give my copy to Mum. Pointless reading it twice!LOL. This shot is of the Fonterra Dairy factory taken from the Country Club. It's the towns main employer. As I recall it's a dried milk powder plant rather than a town milk supply one. I took it just on dusk and it was just starting to rain. Tina got the printing done (she's a real trooper) and I guess the paper will be out today...Mum will be looking forward to her read. I'll be looking forward to another couple of weeks rest..until the next lot of deadlines that is..mutter. Hope everyone is having a happy day or has had one. Don't forget to check out the Sense of Wonder GLOBAL Competition


Fonterra is the toast of dairy farmers - Payout up $5.20

Federated Farmers is toasting Fonterra’s decision to revise upwards, its forecast payout for the 2008/09 season from $5.10 per kilogram of milksolids (kgMS) announced in late January, to $5.20 per kgMS announced today.

“The ten cent revision may not sound like much, but for the June payment, it will represent some $120 million welcome dollars,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairman.

“This news comes at a time when many dairy farmers have dried off their animals ahead of winter, or due to a lack of feed resulting from a drier than expected autumn.

“Due to changes in Fonterra’s payout structure, many farmers would not have had any substantive income until September or October. You can imagine that since dairy farmers have to pay wages, electricity, provide winter feed and of course, put food on the table, this revised payout forecast is welcome news.

“The upwards revision backs Federated Farmers’ view that Fonterra, rightly, erred on the side of caution when it undertook the revision in January.

“This increasingly confirms the view that dairy has reached the bottom of the cycle.

“Banks should not have any doubt that dairy remains an excellent business to be in for well-run farms. The banks must end a mini-liquidity lock that is affecting farm businesses and sharemilkers. Farmers also look at the margin between 90-day bank bills and their financial facilities and ask who is farming whom.

“Farmers, meanwhile, must speak to their farm advisers, accountants and even the bank in an open book fashion to ensure they remain viable businesses.

“Clearly, Fonterra’s upwards revision is not good news for the doomsayers. Although growth maybe slow in the short term, it’s a positive sign for the medium term that will bring cheer to many farmers.

“It has also broken the run of bad news.

“We may not be able to afford champagne but we’ll be toasting this with a glass of milk tonight,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

This was worth waking up for

I took this two mornings ago or maybe three - pass there. I woke up looked out and saw this view of the crescent moon and Venus? in the background. Probably go the wrong planet. Ian Musgrove over at Astroblog will soon put me right on the astronomy side of things. I'm having a little grief with the paper I edit right now. I can't find it on my system. It's supposed to be printed today - now I'm going to get sort it out. I think it's my computer doing a dirty on me and hiding it somewhere from my grubby maulers. If not it's a complete redo...growl

I feel like this little guy did at the Paparoa show - plum tuckered out and in need of a nice long snooze...Hope everyone is well and happy. Back to the grind...mutter


Declawing - a sore point

Having a set of little kittie claws stuck in my hands, arms and legs every other day isn't much fun - however that is Sasquatches' way of learning to hunt and make the best of the tools nature has given him. In some countries Sasquatch would be taken to the veterinarian and surgically declawed to save his owner the inconvenience of scratched up furniture, wall and anything else a their beloved pet might potentially damage. In New Zealand under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 - the declawing of cats and dogs is considered a Restricted Surgical Procedure . Under this section of the act a veterinarian is required under ethical grounds to perform this drastic procedure only if it is of benefit to the welfare of the animal concerned i.e. for medical reasons only if the animal concerned has for instance an infected claw bone and it would require removal to prevent further complications. This issue came to light recently in 2008 from a MAF investigation into the conditions and welfare of the large cats being kept at Zion Wildlife Gardens. Yet to be resolved and the report issued later this year is the declawing by the previous Zion management of a great majority of the animals in their care. Was it necessary? Most likely not - nor would it have been pleasant for the animals affected by the declawing procedure.

Veterinarian Christianne Schelling D.V.M describes declawing or Onychectomy Surgery as follows:

"Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's "toes".
When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing.

In the wild claws for large feline predators are essential as both defence and a means in which to effectively hunt, bring down and kill their prey. Declawing effectively removes both their ability to both defend themselves and for having any change of future release through a rewilding programme.

Barbary Lion Eating (Shia), Zion Wildlife Gardens, Whangarei, NZ

Barbary Lion Shia at Zion Wildlife Gardens

The view of the Association of Veterinarians for Animals Rights on the practice of declawing concurs with that of that of Dr Schellings'

"A major concern that the AVAR has about declawing is the attitude that is evident in this situation. The cat is treated as if he or she is an inanimate object who can be modified, even to the point of surgical mutilation, to suit a person's perception of what a cat should be. It would seem more ethical and humane to accept that claws and scratching are inherent feline attributes, and to adjust one's life accordingly if a cat is desired as a companion. If this is unacceptable, then perhaps a different companion would be in order."

Below is a detailed description of how a cats anatomy is constructed for balancing on its toes and the effects declawing can have..

Unlike most mammals who walk on the soles of the paws or feet, cats are digitigrade, which means they walk on their toes. Their back, shoulder, paw and leg joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves are naturally designed to support and distribute the cat's weight across its toes as it walks, runs and climbs. A cat's claws are used for balance, for exercising, and for stretching the muscles in their legs, back, shoulders, and paws. They stretch these muscles by digging their claws into a surface and pulling back against their own clawhold - similar to isometric exercising for humans. This is the only way a cat can exercise, stretch and tone the muscles of its back and shoulders. The toes help the foot meet the ground at a precise angle to keep the leg, shoulder and back muscles and joints in proper alignment. Removal of the last digits of the toes drastically alters the conformation of their feet and causes the feet to meet the ground at an unnatural angle that can cause back pain similar to that in humans caused by wearing improper shoes.
For the big cats at Zion the decision made for them was nothing short of inhumane. I put it to those who have followed the Lion Man Series to defend this practice as being justified. Would they do this to their own adored pets? I doubt it. And while the many fans are ready and willing to defend the man behind the series in his bid to regain control over the park and the animals concerned - are they willing to read this post and see what the Zion Big Cats had to endure in order to perhaps make them less dangerous. The reasons behind that decision I truly don't know but my opinion is - it was the wrong decision to make and a bad one at that.
A blogger in the UK and a former veterinary nurse has kindly provided this petition link to have declawing banned. She felt strongly enough to leave a comment and tell me how she felt. I concur.

Further Reading: Declawing: What you need to know