Spirit horses

The next minutes are completely mesmerising. The two stallions fight, fifty metres from me. Dust hangs in the air around them, their screams echo off the hills, the impact of their hoof strikes reverberates in my belly. They rear, scream, snake heads out to bite, whirl and kick.

Stallion, Kosciuszko. Image: Dr Andrea Harvey

This week The Conversation published my ‘Friday Essay’ on wild horses in Australia, and the excerpt above describes one of my many wild horse encounters. Horses are the most recent of the main species humans domesticated, and the least different (with cats) from their wild counterparts.

Australia has the largest wild horse herd in the world, 400,000 or more, spread across nearly every landscape in the country, and their presence is deeply controversial. Six thousand of them are in Kosciuszko National Park. The polarised reactions and accusations in the comments thread to my essay demonstrate entrenched views on both sides. Unfortunately, the comments often also demonstrate fairly unthinking responses, with little attention to the substance of the essay. Continue reading

Journeys in Japan

Post written by Michael Adams, Christine Eriksen and Heather Moorcroft.

For ten days in August, three AUSCCER members immersed themselves in a series of cultural experiences in Japan. Heather Moorcroft, Christine Eriksen and Michael Adams  were there for the International Geographical Union (IGU) Regional Conference. The conference theme was Traditional Wisdom and Modern Knowledge for the Earth’s Future  – an interesting example of political irony in hindsight. The conference venue, the dramatic Kyoto International Conference Centre, achieved a place in history as the site of the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

We were all in Japan as members of the Indigenous Peoples Knowledges and Rights Commission (IPKRC) of IGU. IPKRC has an established protocol of engaging with the local Indigenous communities of the country hosting any given IGU conferences. So for thirty members of the commission (postgraduate students, academics as well as accompanying family members of different nationalities), our Japan experience commenced with a pre-conference trip to Ainu Mosir – Hokkaido – the northernmost island of current-day Japan. The field trip foreshadowed the Indigenous-themed sessions of the conference to consider the political struggles and programs for the retention and revival of Ainu culture.

Photo credit: Christine Eriksen.

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