Some good news, some bad

2008-10-19 00:00

IT seems unlikely, but the figures show that the province’s crane population is on the up.

A census under the auspices of the KZN biodiversity programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust confirmed that 564 Blue Cranes, 2 637 Grey Crowned Cranes and 206 Wattled Cranes are spread through the midlands, Drakensberg foothills and the northern parts of the province.

The number of Blue Cranes spotted during the 2008 survey is the highest count over the past eight years, the Grey Crowned Cranes are the second highest, while the number of Wattled Cranes, the most vulnerable species, compares well with previous counts to suggest a stable population.

Even better news is that 63 of the 68 known Wattled Crane breeding pairs were observed during the 2008 survey.

The counts represent more than just a snapshot of the health of cranes in KZN. The results also speak of a greater effort by landowners to help preserve these graceful birds, a factor acknowledged by Henry Davies, chairman of the KZN Crane Foundation.

Few people are better versed than Davies in the achievements of farmers who manage to integrate the unique grassland needs of cranes with agricultural demands.

“Some landowners and farmers are going out of their way to cultivate an environment that is conducive to the breeding of cranes, and they deserve full credit for their efforts,” he said.

At issue is the loss of habitat that the cranes need for survival, according to Davies.

“Grasslands represent the primary habitat of these birds and the relentless march of human progress poses a serious threat to the viability of crane populations,” he said.

Even more encouragingly, there appears to be a greater willingness to walk the extra mile and help build a better world, even if cranes are the primary beneficiaries.

Curious sight

WE’VE been following the abuse of Msunduzi Municipality vehicles by employees with great interest and wondered why the female driver of NPC 4216 was in such a rush to get to the new prison at about 2.45 pm on Monday last week.

Driving at break-neck speed through Napierville, she clearly was in a hurry and we wondered if it was to deposit the child in the front seat — without a seatbelt and half hanging out of the window — at the prison?

Slip streaming

TOW truck drivers are an unsavoury bunch who make it their business to get to accidents first. This they do, probably, by listening in on police and emergency service radio frequencies and then stepping on the gas with little regard for other road users.

Lately, a more cynical trend has been noticed. Rather than fend for themselves through traffic, they now “ambush” an emergency vehicle on its way to an accident, slot in behind it, and literally slip stream their way to an accident.

This manoeuvre, we believe, is opportunistic and in keeping with the vulture ethos of these unscrupulous operators who have no regard for others and prey on unfortunate accident victims.

Unemployment cost

THE Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) pays out about R14 million a day to unemployment claimants.

Last year the fund paid out R2,921 billion in benefits, but remains in good health, according to UIF commissioner Boas Seruwe.

The UIF has more than 1,1 million employers on its database, 90 000 of them added in the past year and 700 000 of them domestic employers. Of the 7,4 million employees registered for UIF, 663 000 are domestic employees.

Busted budget

THIS year, humans used about 40% more in one year than nature can regenerate over the same period. This problem — using resources faster than they can be regenerated and creating waste faster than it can be absorbed — is called ecological overshoot.

In comparative terms and globally, it means we now use the equivalent of 1,4 planets to support our lifestyles.

This year, the world’s population reached the tipping point on September 22. Last year, it was on October 14. If we persevere along this route, we will be consuming our resources faster every year.

This signals a disaster in the making that will see humanity fight for ever-diminishing resources. These resources come from our one and only Earth, meaning that the supply of natural resources continues to shrink, while our waste, primarily carbon dioxide, grows.

Not a pretty story, and one that will lead to the end of the world as we know it.

That is, unless humankind learns from its mistakes and saves itself from itself. The irony is that while Earth, in time, will recover, humanity would have perished.

Smacking lips

LOVERS of whisky are smacking their chops in anticipation of a tasting of seven brands at month’s end.

Hosted by E.R. Browne Incorporated, the tasting promises to be most informative and enjoyable. Watch this space.

Last word

WHEN solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves. — Anthony J. d’Angelo.

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