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Sentinels of the Anthropocene: Ibis

Sentinels of the Anthropocene: Ibis

Above White Ibis in an Australian urban park Image: Drew Mackie (Flickr CC)

Cameron Muir has published a short history of why the White Ibis have been displaced from their habitat in the inland river systems of Australia and forced to migrate to urban environments to survive.

Beginning in the 1960s and 70s, as more large dams were completed across the rivers of eastern Australia, that ‘elsewhere’ for the birds became the cities where our waste is a source of nourishment for ibis displaced from their habitats.

We call them bin chickens, tip turkeys and dump chooks. We complain about their presence, appearance and smell. Instead, we should wonder at their ingenuity and gritty determination to survive. They are ‘a marvel of evolution’, reported Anne Jones for ABC Radio National.

Ibis are sentinels of the Anthropocene, the epoch in our planet’s geological history named after us because we have altered so much of its systems. The ibis call our attention to our shadow places, the places we draw resources from but don’t have to think about. While the rivers remain out-of-sight and out-of-mind, the unscrupulous will continue to think they can get away with stealing environment flows, tampering with water meters, and corrupting the public administration of water.

Read more at Overland Magazine