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Save Our Poo-Shifters!

Dung Scarab (Zul Bhatia)

Belatedly we fear what will happen as our pollinators are poisoned by our farmers. Unwittingly most farmers are the foot soldiers of the “Murdoch-Men” – the Agri-Pharma-Media-Bankers.

Maybe it’s because of prejudices concerning “poo” that most of us have never noticed, let alone challenged, the demise of our Dung Fauna for the sake of the massive profits to those who peddle death.

To kill parasites farm animals are zealously over-medicated. Their toxic dung is then consumed by hundreds of species of dung beetle and dung fly. All around the world these insects are then killed-off by the veterinary poison that remains active in the poo for months. Active, toxic, deadly – for a period that exceeds the life-cycle of most of the dung fly species and many of the dung beetle species too. This cleanses whole invertebrate communities from “our land”. In turn this means there’s much less food for the Hoopoes, for the Rollers, for the Swallows and the Wagtails and for the Shrikes.

In twenty-five years from Laos to Scotland, and from Spain to Tanzania, I’ve been fortunate to compare a thousand different ‘plots’; including many that were “nature reserves”. Searching for insects and birds in places where the cattle and sheep were heavily medicated and in many where the animals were untreated.

Pastures where the animals were untreated, (in some reserves and on common lands near poorer people’s homes) had far more insects and hence far more migrant birds.

By contrast across those lands where the cattle were treated with e.g. the dung poisoning “Mectins” there was scarcely a swallow, a shrike or roller to be seen. Even here in wonderfully rich East Africa. Shocked, in Scotland, I once noted that these toxic dips and drenches were even being used on animals, and sprayed onto the farm-yard ‘midden’ (dung heap), inside an RSPB reserve where threatened Red-billed Choughs and Corncrakes were trying to breed.

TZ 2013 007 (Zul Bhatia)

These two wonderfully evocative pictures are courtesy of the mighty – Zul Bhatia photography !

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