Look af­ter the ‘pen­nies’

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

It is hardly sur­pris­ing that many peo­ple have brushed off as ‘ir­rel­e­vant and bor­ing’ news that a rare type of moth that calls the Wim­mera home is still with us liv­ing near Nhill and Ki­ata.

‘Whoopee do’ we can al­most hear some peo­ple say, con­tin­u­ing with: ‘surely it’s only a moth and lit­tle more than fod­der for the house­hold bug zap­per’.

News that re­searchers have sighted and recorded the Golden sun moth, Synemon Planta, for the first time in at least two years, might fail to in­spire or cap­ture broad com­mu­nity in­ter­est.

But it is the type of news of which we should all take no­tice.

Ul­ti­mately the well­be­ing of the tini­est of crea­tures, such as a hum­ble moth, na­tive ants and the many other types of in­sects and macro-in­ver­te­brates, re­flect the health of the en­vi­ron­ment we hu­mans call home.

Apart from a few cir­cum­stances, if an en­vi­ron­ment is good for in­dige­nous bioindi­cat­ing in­sects, then it is of­ten good for ev­ery­thing else.

We’ve said it be­fore but there is con­sid­er­able truth in the old say­ing ‘look af­ter the penny and the pounds will look af­ter them­selves’.

This es­pe­cially ap­plies when it comes to en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment.

For the record, ecol­o­gists are de­lighted with the dis­cov­ery of more than 50 Golden sun moths, listed as ‘threat­ened un­der Vic­to­ria’s Flora and Fauna Guar­an­tee Act’ and ‘crit­i­cally en­dan­gered’ un­der the Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ment’s En­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Act, at two ob­ser­va­tion sites.

We can be so blasé in our ap­proach to un­der­stand­ing what re­search and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion is all about.

It seems that it is only when other news fil­ters through that one of our iconic and much-loved an­i­mals – the platy­pus for ex­am­ple – is in strife that we feel a need to be in­formed.

Sorry, but na­ture doesn’t follow that sim­plis­tic for­mula.

Ev­ery­thing is con­nected and as the apex preda­tor we sit pre­car­i­ously at the end of the chain.

Again for the record, sci­en­tists sus­pect platy­puses have be­come so genetically frag­ile in the Wim­mera River’s up­per catch­ment, be­yond a small colony in the Macken­zie River, they are all but ex­tinct in the area.

This means that at one end of the re­gion, where rare moths are man­ag­ing to sur­vive, at the other end the habi­tat and tiny aquatic an­i­mal life needed to sus­tain platy­puses is either miss­ing or has been for lengthy pe­ri­ods in the past.

This sub­ject is more than sim­ple ‘gree­nie’ phi­los­o­phy.

It is a reg­u­lar re­minder that we are cus­to­di­ans of our en­vi­ron­ment and have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties – not only to look af­ter a few bugs, but to also look af­ter our­selves.

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