Some people aren’t at home with animals, especially wildlife, but I believe this is mostly from unfamiliarity and fear. When you’re about it a lot, you tend to appreciate the vulnerability.
As a young child, the main kinds of wildlife I was subjected to, in their natural surroundings, were black and brown snakes, and kangaroos. I loved the roos, watching them in the paddocks, despite them being chased by the farmers to eating all the plants.
Living on a tropical island in North Queensland for a few years left me frequently exposed to green tree snakes and pythons, neither of which can be life threatening. The tree snakes wound their way up through the forest trees in all kinds of angles. I found them graceful. Walking island paths with friends late at night, it wasn’t unusual to need to await a python to finish crossing the street in front of us, and being unable to see either end.
Nearby on the mainland, a buddy and I were chased one day with a enormous goanna as we ventured too near her dwelling. A good reminder that most of us share this Earth.
In the Northern Territory, there was no swimming at the McArthur River near Borroloola because of crocs. It’s wild country up there. One of my tasks at a nearby hotel, which was more like a bush camp, and a rough one at that, was to eliminate the green tree frogs from the cistern of the bathrooms daily. After doing this once and viewing them all back the following day, I realised what a futile effort it was, so left them in peace. They simply hung with their webbed feet when the water has been flushed down to the loo.
Whales were plentiful during the perfect season. It was beautiful.
While living up from the Gold Coast hinterlands, there were kookaburras landing on the veranda every day, in addition to peacocks roaming freely in the bush down the back.
I enjoy watching lizards.
Among the most prolific houses for wildlife though was from the bush in Northern NSW. Koalas were so abundant you could walk out the back door and hunt up in the trees, with a great probability of seeing one, or standing on the front veranda and carrying a photograph of one not far away. However while it was quite amazing and intimate to be in a position to have koalas living so nearby, there’s nothing quiet or gentle in their lovemaking.
After being there for over a year and imagining there was a snake in a small alcove near the door, I came to finally meet this monster one morning as I was heading off to work. Down she slid on the veranda and was enormous, majestically so. We arrived to see her frequently then.
One of my favorite swimming areas is a river about 30 minutes from Tamworth. This place has saved me a few occasions, during the darkest periods of my life. The platypus is a timid and gentle river swimmer but since I was frequently out there alone, making Raccoon Sounds if sitting by the lender writing, I was able to watch them a few times at close range. I felt quite special for such a present.
Sadly lots of people only see wildlife in zoos or as road kill, where kangaroos, wallabies or wombats have ventured onto the streets and been struck by a vehicle. My uncle had a wombat. She was known as Wendy the wombat. As an adult Wendy took herself off to reside in the nearby bush. But returned a couple of years later to say hello with her entire family, then toddled off back to the bush. What a gorgeous thing.
This morning while driving to the nearby village, I was saddened to find a dead wallaby beside the road and the body of her babe that was thrown out of its pouch, while still an embryo actually, no fur nonetheless covering its small body.
I do see a whole lot of live wallabies here too though mercifully. They’re sweet little animals.
Last week while on the telephone being interviewed for a vegan magazine, I watched a red-belly black snake slither past me, just a few metres away. They are rather gentle, the red-bellies, although still not to be trifled with because of their venom.
I like the cheeky things.
Lizards hang out in sunlight on the rickety bridge across the creek and hide beneath whenever we drive it over.
Among the most effective documentaries I’ve ever seen is called Earthlings and is available online. It’s incredibly confronting as it seems at man’s dependence on the animal world for food, clothes, entertainment and research. Yet despite the horrible reality of what you may see, it’s also a gorgeous film in its own way since it reminds us all of the beauty of animals and of their right to live on the Earth too. I strongly recommend this documentary to anyone.
We share the Earth with each these creatures. It’s their home too. Wildlife isn’t to be feared, but admired.
When I look out the window in a wallaby on the drive, frogs on the window and lizards back on the bridge, I’m in wonderful company.
All of us are.