Save Pandas! Save sharks! Save yourselves...

2012-09-27 07:42

There was an excellent article doing the rounds on the ongoing tragedy of shark finning. It was informative and enlightening; scary and sad. And as per the author’s title and opening paragraph, it won’t make headlines.

Briefly, "eco activist" and "head of digital at Greenpeace Africa" (his words) Michael Baillie lamented the fact that despite 26 million and 73 million sharks (being) sold a year, (8 000 sharks killed an hour), "it won’t make headlines, it isn't news". Tellingly, Baillie later tweeted, "it's a while since I've had such good comments on a blog. Enviro doesn't normally go down well".

As an ocean user, this news of shark murder is quite awful. The thought of a great white nipping at my heel is what keeps my surfing sharp. If they all disappear, what then to aid my performances in big swell?

Jokes aside, it's tragic that fisherman feel the need to lay 120km of line (you read that right, 120 kilometres) in order to haul these magnificent beasts out of their home. That's like lining the Ben Schoeman highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg with boerie rolls and cups of brandy - there and back - just to tease your average Bulls supporter away from his Victor Matfield shrine.

The demise of the shark is not to be underestimated, and I thank the author for his wonderful piece, something that everyone should read. But what really piqued my interest in his piece was the heading. “Why isn’t shark finning news?” he asks in what is surely an anguished state.

There is no news

Let's attempt to answer that question. Just yesterday there was another story grabbing headlines; the horrible fate of the children who've somehow made it out of Syria and into refugee camps. The images, and words, in local and international media outlets were grim; toddlers blinded by shrapnel, tweens who would otherwise be texting LOL to each other unable to talk because of the horrors they've witnessed and, most heartbreaking of all, little boys and girls lying on the floor, colouring-in seemingly without a care in the world when we, the viewer, knows the truth; that they're fucked forever.

Locally there was much interest in the fraud case of the man who gets so much media attention because the media gives him so much attention. And, of course, on that great starter of uprisings and precursor to "Springs", all the chatter concerned the cringe worthy Steve Hofmeyr roast (which, to be fair, I didn’t watch because I only have one brain cell and I’d like to keep it, and the shrieking shtick of John Vlismas is a sure-fire brain cell killer).

What were we talking about again? Oh ja, the Marikana miners. No, wait it wasn't that. We were trying to save the rhino. Nope, that wasn't it. Oh yes, job inequality in the Western Cape. Hmm, that doesn't sound right. The petrol price? Racism? The Knysna seahorse? Morne Steyn? Oh wait a minute, the end of the magnificent shark. That's it. (The end of the Sharks would be nice, but nobody wants to fish them out of the Tank).

In short, the days of caring; truly, deeply caring about something are over. That should answer the question of why shark finning isn’t news. People just don’t have the time and energy to give themselves to a cause. And when I say people, I obviously don’t mean the likes of Mr Baillie, who is doing his damndest to save our oceans.

I’m talking about you. Me. That oke sitting next to you on the Gautrain. He’ll read this, or Baillie’s piece on the sharks. He’ll nod, mention the article in conversation, say how sad it is and so on. He’ll retweet. Cause a stir for one evening, then move on to the next thing that catches his eye, ooh look black bags have to be called dark grey bags from now on. You know how it goes.

How about that great cause of the suburbs from the 80s, when if you didn’t have a Save the Whales bumper sticker on your car you were some satanic mammal devourer, who bathed in dolphin blood and sucked the eyeballs of puppies through a straw? See any Save our Sharks stickers lately?

The way I see it, Michael Baillie, despite the exquisite work you do, the ages of empathy are well and truly over. And the very tool that helps to spread stories of the good work you do will be your undoing too.

With so much to care about, with so much to be concerned with, it’s far easier and more self-satisfying to quickly spread tales like yours before moving on to the next crisis. No one is getting stuck in, no is getting their hands dirty, because no one really cares. Despite what they tweet.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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  • citizen.kane.35 - 2012-09-27 08:20

    David i think we do care, most of us just cant 'donate' to every worthwile cause, whether its time or money being asked of us.There just isnt the time anymore (see i'm procrastinating already)to care (lame) too many other 'right now'distractions and lastly too much death, destruction and bad news for us to empathise with all of them... Oh sh*t maybe i too have stopped caring..then why did i reply..maybe i'm at the edge ready to jump

  • nancy.kay.712 - 2012-09-27 08:27

    Sharks are dangerous and I lost a dear friend to one at Fish Hoek.

      mfundi.ndaba - 2012-09-27 09:05

      I don't think it was the shark's fault. Do you?

      ed.gutsche - 2012-09-27 09:09

      my condolences....but how many friends did you lose to cancer, car accidents or crime? the sea is their habitat, they live there, we are in their environment and it doe snot mean that over 250million sharks need to be kiled because less than 100 people lose their lives to sharks attacks every year.

      nancy.kay.712 - 2012-09-27 09:36

      But she was just swimming.

      LanfearM - 2012-09-27 09:50

      Sorry for your loss Nancy, but the sea is the shark's natural habitat and we humans are the intruders when we swim, dive, etc. Will you blithely walk up to a lion pride when in a national park? The same principle applies. The sharks are not at fault, and I get sick and tired of sharks being hunted because they are suddenly "man killers", which is a load of bullshyte.

      nancy.kay.712 - 2012-09-27 09:52

      Well she was swimming in the part demarcated for swimmers. At least they are going to put up nets I am told. I am also told it was a rogue shark that attacked her. If its a rogue shark then surely it must be killed?

      sharon.houghton.984 - 2012-09-27 09:59

      Well as sad as it is, she was swimming in the ocean,which at the moment has reptiles, fish and such like swimming in it. Not sure how long it will last though! Your statement is like saying I was walking through the Kruger Park and a lion jumped out and bit me. If you want to be in an environment where wild animals and reptiles live, you takes your chances, sorry!!

      nancy.kay.712 - 2012-09-27 10:04

      Sharon, she was not actually in the ocean, she was close to the sea shore. And shark attacks have become more common over the last few years. I am just saying that was a rogue shark and I think it should be removed. Wait till one of your children are eaten and then comment.

      marlene.hitchcock.9 - 2012-09-27 10:38

      @Nancy - I have seen your comments on a few of these articles and they always seem to be to inflame others. You don't seem to have any opinions. You just make remarks, which will surely get many replies. I have gathered you must be a TROLL.

      nancy.kay.712 - 2012-09-27 19:39

      That is just your opinion, and I have even written an article which has been published: So how many articles have you published Marlene? Didn't think so and that shut you up quickly.

      ed.gutsche - 2012-09-28 10:32 had something published on the Internet in the opinions section! give her a Bells:) PS: does this comment classify as been published and who the hell is leviticus? sounds like someone from 'Life of Brian'!

      nancy.kay.712 - 2012-09-28 10:47

      Well Ed, obviously you did not read it and it was widely discussed actually.

      LanfearM - 2012-09-28 12:16

      @ Nancy - for goodness sake, what exactly is a "rogue" shark?! So according to you your friend was close to the edge of the water, on the beach, in the swimmer's area? What did the shark do? Jumped onto the sand, grabbed her, and wriggled back into the water? Bullshyte man. People should stay out of the sea anyways. All this cage diving and stuff is actually baiting sharks into shallow waters. Swimmers and divers look like seals to sharks when seen from below. Shark nets are cruel and kill sharks. And for what? Just so that people can dip a toe in the ocean? Build ocean pools on beaches, or go an swim in your pool for that matter if you feel like a dip. Its the same with people carrying on about the crocodiles in the rivers and river-mouths after that surfer was killed. I cannot believe that people blame the shark when they are bitten or killed in the sea. What a farce!

  • Jacques - 2012-09-27 08:35

    The fact that this is true is sad, too...

  • ed.gutsche - 2012-09-27 09:13

    I, personally, am ashamed to be human. no way that any 'god' created us as humans are the parasitic spawn of satan that are here to destroy the planet. every breath that we take, every move that we make, takes us one step closer to killing the organism that we live off of... the sad thing is that we are been 'dumbed down' by the media reports. there are too many these days. yesterday all 4 rhinos, one a pregnant cow, were clinically massacred at Amakhala Reserve, within the past ONE year nearly 20000 elephants have been slaughtered by the chinese in TAnzania alone, of those , 12500 were in the Masai Mara and Selous reserves. these are World Heritage Sites. There are 7500000 living organisms on earth, of those 5000000 are endangered and 2500000 are critically endangered. 2.5m living animals, fish and birds will not be here within 15 to 20 years. yet we sit back and dont notice or care anymore or say that you put it on FB so you ahve done your bit...

  • mastersvoice - 2012-09-27 10:42

    George Carlin speaks for me:

  • fanie.kritzinger.9 - 2012-09-27 11:02

    I agree, f#ck the rinos, the sharks, the whales!!! Safe the farmers, the homeless, the children!!! And what about the trees all the European countries took from Africa????

      juannepierre - 2012-09-27 11:44

      Farmers are hate filled biggots, I can farm, thanks. Homeless, just lazy folk that can never achieve anything. Children... I didn't give birth to them. Trees, just go plant one before you start crying like a girl. Rhinos, I love all my rhino pics, shark pics and whale pics. Needless to say I am no humanitarian. but let me have my photo weekends with nature.

  • nkosinathi.nhlangulela - 2012-09-27 16:25

    OOhhh the damn Shark attack. We must give them contraceptives.

  • tc.convulvulous - 2012-10-02 01:57

    ..xenophobia; farm murders.. oh no that is not news. 1500 murders a month in South Africa.. no, not news. ...stuff the sharks! (not the rugby guys, I mean those ones lurkin in the ocean)

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