Somewhere between 2 pm and 5 pm on the 20th of May 2012, in Fremantle, Western Australia, Sweet Pea died. She was only nine months old, in magpie years, an early adolescent. A human family, who knew her well, were shocked to find her lying dead beneath a post supporting a power line, her feet burnt away. It seems she had inadvertently bridged a power and earth line, causing her catastrophic injuries and death.
Sweet Pea had those qualities and behaviors that we humans value. She was a typical adolescent, confident and annoying, but also a wonderful loving daughter. Often she would take her mother gifts of food, repaying the care and kindness both parents had shown her in her too-short life. Time will tell how her parents manage her loss. What is certain is she is greatly missed.
Many will sympathize with Sweet Pea and want to change the world to protect other young magpies – put power lines underground, for example. And justifiably so: Sweet Pea didn’t have to die; she did because the human world killed her. But there are more dangers. Human destruction of forests has meant increased carbon in the atmosphere and accelerated climate change. In 2019-20 in Australia, this meant the death through bush fires of over three billion animals (research commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature), described as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.
To safeguard wild animals, we need to understand that they are like us – then we will empathize and want to protect them. Such empathy has benefits for humans. The main path to protecting wildlife is preserving their wild habitats, which means a ban on wilderness clearing. This saving of their habitats will not just help wild creatures, it will help maintain the earth’s climate and bio-stability.
By empathizing with wild animals and preserving their habitats, we will protect ourselves too.
Thanks to Cherry Manfield for the information regarding Sweet Pea’s death and permission to reproduce her painting of a younger Sweet Pea. For more details on the need to empathize with animals, see ‘Einstein’s Last Message.’