“Do not feed or handle wildlife.”
What if inadvertently you’d adopted a new behaviour that resulted in you becoming a little less wild, or that you lost an important behaviour that dulled you forever? You’d be sad, wouldn’t you?
Keeping them a little bit wild
Why do we need to keep wildlife wild? Is it not exciting as a visitor to interact with wildlife, after all is this not one of the key reasons for a nature park in our suburbs?
Feeding the animals could disrupt an important behaviour sequence, that of the wildlife foraging for food. Lyrebirds, for example, find food by scratching with their feet through the leaf litter. This in turn helps new fern development as ferns do not sprout from seeds, but develop from spores which are more vulnerable than seeds as they lack a protective coating. By the Lyrebirds disrupting the ground cover, the spores are less exposed to the outdoor environment as they are able to penetrate the leaf-litter. A dynamic yet simple dependency.
If we as tourists feed the birds, we will create a new behaviour string: the birds will come to know people as a dependable source of food and perhaps reduce their natural foraging. A reduction in foraging decreases the opportunity for ferns to develop, which in turn reduces the natural cover and food which this plant species provides to a number of other organisms. A simple pleasure for us that potentially damages the life cycle of the birds and the broader ecosystem.
So it pays to keep the wildlife wild to ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem. But what about you? What could be impacting your ability to maintain your personal ecosystem?
Keeping you a little bit wild
What if inadvertently you had adopted a new behaviour influenced by a third party source that was eroding your personal ecosystem? What’s an example? Can you think of a new dependency that has developed in your life that’s eroding the sustainability of what was once an important behaviour or attribute?
Maybe it’s Friday night drinks that you never used to go to. Perhaps it’s a new 500km per week cycling habit you’ve collected. Or an always switched on FaceSpace social media account dinging and binging in the palm of your hand. You won’t need to scratch too deeply to find one, I’m sure.
But what if this behaviour is not limited to you. Say you do approach the Lyrebirds, well, because no one else is going to ignore the sign, are they? So why shouldn’t you just this once? It won’t hurt. Imagine everyone thinks this way. Now imagine everyone has adopted your new 500km per week cycling habit or FaceSpace addiction. Imagine the power of that. What has happened to the original habits, behaviours or cultural demonstrations of your natural ecosystem? Are you still nurturing the broader personal ecosystem by fulfilling and tending these new third party influenced behaviours?
Now imagine the power of not doing that across the population. That’s a pretty strong message, hey? So, by resisting these new third party behaviours or supplementary dependency, or by at least consciously deciding to participate and by how much, you’re not just keeping yourself just a little bit wild, you’re contributing to sustaining everyone else’s piece of wild and maintaining that cultural nuance that benefits us all.
So go on, scratch in the dirt a little and maintain your roots, and your community. There won’t always be a Ranger on the look out.
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