At the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, seven war conches are named as their owners sound them at the start of the climactic Kurukshetra battle, including warrior Arjuna’s Devadatta, and his charioteer Krishna’s Panchajanya. War conches are shankha, the same sacred or divine conch that is used in Hindu and Buddhist ritual, Ayurvedic medicine, Indian marriage ceremonies and numerous other occasions.
The conch seems an unlikely candidate to reach the level of reverence it does in India, and in fact in numerous other cultures. It is a large marine gastropod, a big sea snail. The specific animal revered as shankha is Turbinella pyrum, and is common on the southern coasts of India and Sri Lanka. In its living form it is not obviously attractive, the shell being covered by a dark brown mantle of soft tissue. Once processed, it is a shining white symbol of the divine. Continue reading →
Camels are the focus of this week’s ‘Freedom of Species’ program on 3CR Independent Radio. AUSCCER’s Leah Gibbs will be talking with 3CR’s Emma Townshend this Sunday, 17 May, at 1pm on 3CR (855am). You can also catch the show later as an MP3.
Invasive species and their impacts have become a focus of global environmental policy and action. Invasive, alien and in Australia ‘feral’ species have come to represent categories of destructive animals and plants that do not belong. They are frequently pitted against ‘native’ species, which are deemed good and do belong. But in the context of contemporary environmental change and uncertainty, established categories such as ‘invasive’ species need to be examined more closely. Continue reading →
This session aims to advance oceanic geographies that push in directions less ‘landlocked’ (Steinberg 2001; Anderson and Peters 2014) and more lively (Lambert et al. 2006) to examine the materiality and politics of oceans. Despite the flourishing in recent years of ‘more-than-human’ and material approaches, oceans and associated creatures have only recently come to the fore in a selection of analyses (see Bear and Eden 2008; Probyn 2011). Likewise, ocean geographies have largely neglected the materiality of the sea. This inattention to human-ocean relations and ocean materiality is puzzling given that oceans are central to so many pressing debates, including biodiversity protection, food security, climate change, water pollution and scarcity, and invasive species control. Such ocean crises highlight questions about cultures of living with/in marine environs, and processes of governance. Continue reading →
I finish Flight Ways. Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction in a house surrounded by birds. With windows at every turn, it sometimes feels like being in a very cosy bird hide. As I reflect on Thom Van Dooren’s haunting book, my companions are wrens hopping around nooks and crannies in their constant search for insects. A winter flock of Satin Bowerbirds lands on the lawn, eats and leaves. High above, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles circles. Kookaburras and magpies greet the clear cold air of dawn.
Inside the house, feathers from who knows what far away bird fly as I shake out the old doona for visiting friends. A wooden duck welcomes them at the front door. There is chicken for dinner. Graham Pizzey and Neville Cayley help us name birds according to particular taxonomies and traditions, and learn more of their habits. Continue reading →
Last week Meanjin published an essay of mine. The tagline they used was ‘Michael Adams reflects on the relationships between hunters and their prey’. The Guardian has just reprinted it in their Comment section. The essay explores modern hunting, with some of it focusing on my own hunting. My thinking continues to evolve on these issues, and recent media indicates they continue to be important and controversial. Continue reading →
Australia Day began badly for sharks. The day before, Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett rolled out the lines of large baited hooks along parts of the WA coast that he’s been promising as part of the state’s Shark Mitigation Strategy. Within 24 hours the first shark was caught and killed. A 3m long tiger shark. The lines of hooks – known as baited drumlines – are anchored 1km off the shore. Their purpose is to kill sharks deemed to pose a threat to people. Continue reading →
If so, we would really appreciate your help with our research. Please click here to fill out our survey. It should take about 15 minutes to complete.
Over the past couple of years encounters between people and sharks have received a huge amount of public attention. This is particularly true in Western Australia, where five reported fatal encounters tragically took place in a 10 month period during 2011 and 2012. In response to the fatalities, the Government of Western Australia has introduced new measures in shark management, including enabling Department of Fisheries to ‘track, catch and, if necessary, destroy sharks identified in close proximity to beachgoers’ (Gov. of WA, 27 September 2012).
We are two researchers working at the University of Wollongong (Leah Gibbs) and University of New England (Andrew Warren) interested in learning more about the views of ocean-users on this topic. We want to better understand the WA government response to recent events, and the implications of the new approach. We’re particularly interested in hearing from you – as an ocean-user – about your ocean-based activities, your sightings or encounters with sharks (if you’ve had any), and your attitudes towards sharks and shark management.
If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Leah Gibbs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks in advance for your help with our research.
I’ve just recently returned from a fantastic trip abroad that combined two conferences, writing on the road, and some vacationing. I’ve returned to Australia travel weary but excited about moving forward with my work at AUSCCER.
Bred sterile Qflies for biosecurity programs
At both conferences, I spoke about human-nonhuman relations within horticultural production networks in Australia – focusing on the ways in which Queensland fruit flies and European honeybees participate in, shape and are shaped by commercial production on-going in parts of the Murray-Darling Basin.
Aside from my shock at such an occurrence, I worried that beekeepers I have been speaking with as part of on-going AUSCCER research might have been affected. The research investigates human-nonhuman relations in commercial horticultural production – one part of which focuses on bees and beekeepers making honey and pollinating crops. Last year I spent time with beekeepers who bring their bees to the Robinvale region to pollinate extensive almond orchards, and I know some of those beekeepers put their bees in the Batemans Bay area at this time of year.
At the VAA AGM I reconnected with some of those beekeepers, made new connections, and learned plenty about beekeeper concerns. There were presentations dealing with queen breeding, disease management, biosecurity concerns with varroa mite and Asian bees, and development of web-based tools to monitor vegetation growth and toxic chemical exposures. The presentations were informative but, as with many conferences, the most interesting conversations for me were at breaks or outside of presentations.
As people caught up with each other and discussed the coming year’s flowering patterns and activities, the situation at Batemans Bay came up frequently. Who had been affected? Who would do such a thing? How many hives had been lost? It brought up stories of other bee losses – hives that had been stolen, driven over, and even shot. As well as losses to chemicals used in orchards. When it became clear that larger beekeepers had been targeted while smaller beekeepers had been left alone, people discussed the growing difficulties of obtaining public forest sites – connecting controversies over native/exotic species, conservation mandates, and forestry management — and asymmetries in the industry.
Beekeeping is fascinating to research, particularly here in Australia, which lacks (so far at least) varroa and colony collapse disorder. I’m looking forward to further explorations with bees and beekeepers.
My sympathies go to those beekeepers affected by the incident at Batemans Bay – one of whom I did interview last year. It’s a deeply disturbing thing to have happened.