Musings from Week One of the World Parks Congress
1. Australia’s declared War on Feral Cats
A war was declared this week on Australia’s booming feral cat population. It is believed that there are more than 15 million feral cats in the country killing an estimated 75 million native animals each night across the country. Australia’s new declaration shows the governments commitment towards keeping nature and wildlife safe from the proclaimed invaders. Mr. Gregory Andrews, Australian Threatened Species Commissioner, spoke with conviction at Friday morning’s opening plenary on Parks about his government’s new financial commitments to challenge this problem. He hopes this new commitment will restore native bird populations across the country. It was nice to hear tangible commitments and achievable actions from a government agency. I believe it’s the small, doable actions that have a far greater impact than large declarations to save all of the worlds oceans and wild spaces. Good onya Mr. Andrews!
2. On the flip side, Russia’s Cats Roam Free
Under the Dome lies the heart of the World Parks Congress. The pavilions offer a glimpse into the vast scope of work of the IUCN and its partners. Here, delegates mingle, network and share common ideals and hopes for the world. Messages are shared, demonstrations made, and songs sung. My guess is that there are nearly 100 booths and pavilions from around the globe, housed under one roof. Pakistan has a small table set up to the left as you enter under the main doors of the dome. A map of their national parks sits neatly on the counter and a country flag hangs on the wall behind. The man at the counter will answer all the questions you may have about parks in his country. Look further, you’ll see installation of more booths, both big and small. A dozen video screens flash images of wild places, wild spaces, and messages of the future. France and Canada are represented, as is National Geographic and Google. At the Pacific Island Pavilion traditional drumming starts 8 am. Dancing, singing, and overall good times ensue if you happen to stop by, anytime of day! The Urban Parks Pavilion has installed giant turf hills that one can lounge and take a nap on: a peaceful reprieve from the hectic nature of the Congress. Yet, by far the most eye-catching pavilion, and my personal favorite, is Russia’s. Ceiling high cutout of Russia’s northern territory stand as the walls of the booth. Steaming tea and coffee is served in clean, white china each morning. Vodka and wine flows as the day slows down and comes to an end. And, if you pay close enough attention, you might see two Russian cats stealthily roaming the conference grounds throughout the day. Yes, two of Russia’s delegates wear cat costumes all day, everyday.