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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We are the Custodians of Nature

"Man, the Hero" is sitting on his pedestal. How big is his task to reign over the earth, yet he looks quite smug and loves to be admired! As consumers we are so totally responsible for the balance in our world. Of course we may use certain things, but how much can we safely claim for ourselves? As consumers and travellers we need the oil that is transported in huge amounts over the oceans. How can it be done more safely without spoiling our beautiful planet? We all know how a great spill can effect our birds!

We have little control over the harvesting of hundreds of thousands of seabird eggs yearly in societies where it is the main source of protein for humans. Closer to home, cats, with the blessing of their vets, insist on their favourite brands of tinned food, while at the fish factories fleets of boats are going out to trawl the oceans for the tons of fish needed to be processed as pet food for the supermarket shelves, leaving less for our seabirds!

For tourists and photographers, visiting the gannets is a breathtaking experience, yet care must be taken while large stone buildings are erected for people to watch birds from. Busy, noisy and dusty human activities can be stressful for the birds indeed. Tourism provides the funds needed for caring and monitoring the birds, so we hope that the pros outweigh the cons when we build these bird hides! The habits of the birds can be carefully monitored from here, but sometimes selected birds will have to carry a ring with data inscribed in it. Scientists have noticed that the ringing of a gannet can put the pair off breeding for a whole season!

My big-headed little man on his pedestal! I hope he can keep the balance! (The cartoon was done in great haste and from the imagination as I had to leave the West Coast for my solo exhibition in Pretoria.) I would love to hear your thoughts on this sensitive topic.


  1. Hmm... so very thought provoking... Back in Genesis man was told to take dominion over the earth - how are we doing? I would like to think that there is a balance between taking care of the earth and making use of its resources for man to life but might we be a bit too greedy in our use of some of the resources? I had to do a double take on the man with the big head- it was only when I saw the bird behind the camera that I "got it"!: )

  2. Thank you, Helen! You really summed up my thoughts. I could not provide answers to the problems of Nature preservation. I could only question and did it in a satirical way.

    The post is not as popular as all my previous four on the gannets were.I can only presume that I am a bad cartoonist! Punch Magazine is not going to offer me a job!

  3. I love the satire in this little cartoon Marie! And I am passionate about the animals and birds and sea creatures and the way man has used and abused them for his own growth and gain! Instead of thinking we are always right, maybe we should sit down and learn a bit from the animal kingdom?

  4. Thank you, Liz! I know you yourself have done so much by volunteering to wash oil-covered gannets! That is truly brave, and I would like to hear more about the project! Did SANCOB have to feed the birds first to make them stronger for the added trauma of the cleaning?

  5. Marie, thanks for this wonderful series on the sea birds and your thoughtful comments about progress versus the environment. Your design abilities are evident in all your subject matter.

    I've traveled so much lately that I haven't been able to keep up with my blog friends. I wish you the the very best with your shows.

  6. Thank you for your kind comments, Mary. I think that there are so many shows and travelling taking place all over, we do not visit as we should. Do you also find that the internet is faster when you are home? I can wait so long and some blogs won't even open. I wish you happy travelling!

  7. I think a painting of your gannet cropped the way it is in the photo would make a spectacular almost abstract painting!!

    Yeah... we're pretty pitiful caretakers of this great planet, aren't we?

    Good luck on your exhibition!

  8. Hi Marie
    I loved your cartoon and the painting done by Tracy. Yes, the whole balance of Nature is off and one wonders what it will take to bring it back. I think Nature will do it on its own as it is a more powerful machine than man thinks he is.

  9. Hi Marion, will soon catch up with your wonderful sailing adventures, as soon as I am behind my desk and my fast internet system. Yes, you are right, I have seen zebra close-ups painted like that. I was very close to the gannet (with that wonderful glass in between) and I zoomed closer with the camera. So that is in fact the complete original photo!

    Thank you, Carol. That idea of Nature doing it on its own is good, we can stand back maybe? As an exception, I quite like the man who scolds the seals when they go near the gannet eggs!(the first gannet post). Thank you for following the link to Tracy!


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