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Music by starlight, wetlands and pets

It’s that time of year when outdoor fundraising events are scheduled in the fervent hope that the heavens don’t open. Last Saturday, organisers and performers involved in fundraising for Island Hospice with Music Under the Stars at Dungarvon Estate, were seriously stressed. Slated for several weeks, the weather held well until the day, then it poured!

Report by Rosie Mitchell

The Side-Striped Jackal — an adaptable, shy wild dog species which can survive on the edges of the suburbs and is rarely seen.

Thankfully by late afternoon the rain had ceased and to the public’s credit, a decently-sized audience braved the possibility of further rain to support this worthwhile event, bringing picnics, wine, chairs, blankets and the whole family. It was an enjoyable evening’s entertainment and around US$5 000 was raised for Island.

Paintings by various artists were also on silent auction, with jewellery by Patrick Mavros, proceeds of about US$2 000 going to Farm Families Trust. I bid on a lovely baobab painting by and was delighted to win it. With performances by Marden Singers, dancers from Mitzi’s dance school, Nigel Hopkins singing with Roz Ribeiro, a delightful classical trio, excellent jazz band Mahogany and more acts, there was something for all ages and tastes. It was a social evening too, as outdoor events tend to be. Well-done to organisers, performers and supporters for seeing this through by ignoring the weather. Well worth it, and no one got wet.

Sitting under the stars with a picnic, listening to lovely music, tends to bring Hifa back to mind.  Preparations are already under way for Hifa 2013. Hardly has the Hifa Standard Page come to an end for one year, than work must begin on the next edition of this world renowned festival. With Gavin Peter in place as the new Artistic Director who follows in founder Manuel Bagorro’s footsteps, we can be sure of as great a Hifa as we have come to expect.

Wetland conservation in our capital has never been more burning than now, as developers scramble to build on these once properly respected, and always, protected, areas, which are in fact the source of the water we ultimately drink and use. This fact seems to escape those who for financial gain are bent on drying them up, turning them into shopping malls, golf courses and all sorts of other developments of which we already have more than enough — as has been done all over the world, to the ultimate detriment of many nations which, too late, have rued the day they let this happen. In just 100 years, humanity in its seemingly unquenchable quest to destroy the environment for money’s sake has drained 50% of the entire planet’s remaining wetlands.

Animal habitats dwindling at an alarming rate

Scarcity of fresh water is already being felt globally as a result of destruction of wetlands. Can we as city residents, do something to stop this destruction before it’s too late? If we stand by and do nothing, we can be sure that these wetlands, which are also beautiful greenbelts breaking up the developed areas of the city, will soon be gone forever, and so will the wildlife, clinging on within them.

In two days last week, we adopted three really tiny orphaned kittens and almost lost our most recently adopted dog, rescued off Arcturus Road at the end of last year! We’d decided to adopt two kittens anyway, and planned a visit to SPCA, but before we got there, three magically came our way! Kitten one was rescued from the roadside by our vet’s maid, her mother run over and killed, her siblings dead from dehydration. The one feisty family survivor had been hand-raised at the vet’s, where I happened to meet her on a visit. Hearing she needed a home, I did not pause! The next day, a friend of company team member Clare phoned from the back of her horse, reporting she’d found and rescued two minuscule kittens by the road. Clare sped off to relieve her of them, it being hard to control a horse and two three-week-old squirming kittens! Even smaller than the previous day’s addition to our menagerie, they proved as irresistible.

Meantime, out running the same day, the dogs and I simultaneously spotted a jackal, always a treat for me. The second encounter of probably the same individual, they immediately sped off to investigate. The last recent encounter involved no more than a generalised mutual sniffing, in fact, I’d at first mistaken the jackal for a domestic dog till I got much closer! This time, while three of the four came back to me on call, our recently adopted much younger dog Echo disappeared after the wild animal, not to be found till three hours later! This required much crashing about and calling out in the bush by torchlight! What a relief!

A remarkable number of jackals manage to survive on the outer edges of our city, hunting mostly guinea fowl, of which there are also an amazing amount on the suburbs’ edges and beyond. I encounter jackals fairly regularly out running and always enjoy it. Recently I was very shocked to hear someone refer to them as “vermin”. This is the exact attitude that resulted in the murderous slaughter of nearly half a million African wild dogs in just one century, and only a few thousand remain. Let us hope that jackals, also a species of wild dog in the same family, do not suffer a similar fate.

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