Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yalata Visit

June 2009
I have long been an admirer of the RSPCA and the commendable work that they do and as such was honoured to recently be invited to visit a remote aboriginal community with the RSPCA of South Australia, to talk to the children about animal welfare.

Yalata is an indigenous community approximately two and a half hours from Ceduna, close to the Great Australian Bight and the Nullarbor desert in South Australia.  Whilst the population is always fluctuating as its members move between nearby communities, a core population of around 250 people live in the community, and most maintain many of the traditions of their ancestors.  The RSPCA attended the community to talk to the children about looking after their dogs and responsible pet ownership, and asked me to talk about respecting the local wildlife with which they share their land.  Being given the opportunity to enter the community and meet with the wonderful children and adults of the community was a fantastic experience and I feel very privileged to have had the attention of the children (and their school teachers) as I spoke about respecting all forms of life and appreciating its inherent value.  To be able to talk with the residents and be given the chance to understand the connection between the indigenous people and the wildlife with which they have co-existed over many generations was enlightening.  The community members’ perspectives and opinions of native wildlife were very different from the attitudes in our more western societies, but I appreciated the opportunity to understand the communities’ point of view and I have no doubt the experience was worthwhile for all concerned.

Whilst in the community I also helped the RSPCA staff deliver an anti-parasite program to the dogs of the community which involved making ‘ivermectin sandwiches’ to feed to each dog that we came across.  These medicated sandwiches were highly appetizing (due to the anchovy spread in their centre) and were fed out to help reduce the incidence of intestinal worms and mange affecting many of the dogs.  Communities such as Yalata have no permanent vets or animal carers, and without regular visits from the likes of the RSPCA the animals in remote indigenous communities unfortunately often go without any veterinary treatment.  The residents of Yalata certainly appreciated the efforts of the RSPCA and their vet and I’m sure the RSPCA will continue to have thriving relationship with Yalata and the animals of the community.

Being given the opportunity to work with the RSPCA in the field was of great benefit to me – and hopefully also the RSPCA.  I certainly look forward to continuing to work with the RSPCA in the future.

--Bob Irwin

Photos courtesy of Nalika and Ben

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