Cai’s Wild Life

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Yesterday started out with rescuing a lorikeet out of the river and taking it to a vet in Gladstone and ended up with an email from Bindi Irwin.

A few weeks back, Cai decided he wanted to enter a competition being run by Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors to find a Visionary Wildlife Warrior ages between 5 and 17. And while he didn’t win, he was one of 8 finalists for 2014. I’m so proud of him for his passion and his commitment to that passion, and I wanted to share his entry with you all. Cai expresses himself much better verbally than in writing (I think I’m the opposite so I don’t know how that happened) so he spoke this to me and I typed it up for him.

My name is Cai and I am 9 years old. I come from Brisbane, but at the moment I am travelling around the country with my family in a camper trailer.

Steve Irwin inspired me to become involved in wildlife conservation. When I was little, I was a pretty sick kid. I spent a lot of time in hospital. One day, my mum and dad got me a Crocodile Hunter DVD to watch while I was on a drip. I loved it so much I watched it over and over. And from then on I was interested in wildlife and wildlife conservation. I used to walk around with a pillowcase full of rubber snakes and do snake shows for my family and friends. Mum says that I would only wear khaki clothes and she used to have to take my Australia Zoo shirt off me when I was asleep so she could wash it. When I got older, mum and dad let me have some snakes of my own – a friend of ours is looking after them for us at the moment – but mum is still saying I can’t have my own freshie. Yet.

I am passionate about saving our saltwater crocodiles and changing people’s ideas about them. Salties are my favourites. When I was in Cape York I saw a big saltie on Jackey Jackey Creek and it was just awesome.

Because we’re living on the road, the whole of Australia is my community. We meet heaps of new people all the time, and I always talk to them about wildlife. I explain to people why they shouldn’t catch and kill sharks when they go fishing, and if dad and I catch a shark we always let him go. I also started a petition at my old school to send to Campbell Newman asking him to stop shooting the crocs in Far North Queensland. I took my whole family to a protest rally to try to stop the shark cull in WA.

I always talk to other kids about why crocs, sharks and snakes are awesome and why we shouldn’t kill any of them, and I’m working with my family on putting together information packs for kids to help them understand why we need these creatures in our environment. I think that most kids really like them as much as I do, but they learn to be scared about them from their parents. I’d like to help kids teach their parents all about wildlife. I’m also working on making some YouTube videos too.

I want to help teach other kids about why our ecosystem needs apex predators like sharks and crocs, and what will happen to the environment if we keep killing them all off.

Steve Irwin taught me to be passionate about our amazing Australian wildlife, and why we shouldn’t muck with it. If you don’t look after nature, the whole ecosystem will collapse. I’ve always wanted to be just like Steve, and one day I will.

I know you will mate.

On Learning and Travelling

Some time ago, I read this column which basically chastised parents who took little Johnny out of school during term time for skiing holidays in the south of France, and because missing school time to travel would see kids drop a full band in Naplan testing.

Seeing as how I’ve taken my kids out of school for 18 months to travel, I guess they’re stuffed.

I guess they’re stuffed because Naplan doesn’t test them on whether they can build a fire, or a drop trap (thanks Bear Grylls for that one), or explain how our solar panel and dual battery system operates.

I guess they’re stuffed because Naplan doesn’t test their reactions to seeing c.13000 year old rock art in person, rather than in a book.

I guess they’re stuffed because Naplan doesn’t test them on the way they relate to people from vastly different walks of life to their own – kids from
Cape York, a Czech couple in their 60s, people with much more than we have and others with much, much less. People with views similar to our own, and those who could not think more differently. (I’m looking at you, dude who thinks “they’ve all got XBoxes” is appropriate recompense for 200+ years of dispossession.)

I guess they’re stuffed because Naplan doesn’t ask what to do when you have limited clean drinking water available, or question the logic of using it for black water when so much of our state is in drought.

I guess they’re stuffed because Naplan doesn’t give a rats about their mental health.

Of course, since that piece was published the world’s gone nutso over the fact that our nation’s 9 year old’s are massive fail whales because they couldn’t write a persuasive argument as to what rules or laws they would change given the choice. Out of curiosity, I asked my 7 year old daughter that question, and she answered:

I’d stop them being able to cull sharks and crocodiles. They are apex predators at the top of the food chain, and without them the ecosystem shuts down. The animals in the water create the ecosystem. If the sharks don’t eat the seals, then there’s too many seals, but then there’s not enough food for them. We need more people like Sea Shepherd and Bob Irwin and Steve Irwin to save the sharks and crocodiles. When you cull sharks and crocodiles you unbalance the ecosystem and it doesn’t work anymore. That’s why I’d stop them doing it.

Yep, I guess they’re stuffed.

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