Friday, 21 December 2007

A Political Killing In Burma?

In a blog titled, ‘This Is Thailand!’ I reported earlier (11 March 2007) that a rare black cinereous vulture had been discovered in Thailand and that Kasetsart University’s veterinarian department had nursed it back to health. A party of five Thais was then due to fly with it on Thai Airways to Beijing and Ulan Batur, Mongolia where the bird was to be taken to a vulture reserve and released into the wild.

It is now with the deepest regret that I have to inform you that the said vulture has instead been shot by a rebel soldier in Burma’s Shan State and is no more. (Bangkok Post, 23 November 2007.) While I do not think that this will provoke a diplomatic incident, it is indeed sad considering the repeated media publicity that this vulture received and because I’m especially fond of vultures.

What I had forgotten was the frequent press reports that the said cinereous vulture, since named Anakin, never in fact made it to Mongolia, for diplomatic reasons. It seems that despite proof that it was free of bird flu, the South Korean and Chinese governments refused it a transit visa to pass through their capitals.

While as feared this now reduces the world population of black cinereous vultures to 19,999, it seems that vultures are under serious threat elsewhere. In Nepal they have been decimated because they feed on the carcases of deceased sacred cows and are poisoned by the drug Diclophenac. This is an anti-inflammatory which I take for my gammy knee and which Nepalese cows apparently also take for theirs. A cow with four gammy knees must need a high dose and so its carcase is not the best food for vultures which are highly allergic to the drug.

To help the population recover, they are now therefore providing the vultures with organic meat to eat which has to be a good thing as I’d find it hard to live in a world without vultures.

Just like me, some people do love vultures. My friend Jeremy who was getting married asked on his wedding list for a black stuffed vulture but the nearest he got was a leather pig from Harrods called Boris. What a cruel world!

All of which reminds me, I must change my will. At the moment in the bit at page nineteen about my green and ecological funeral, it expresses the wish that after my death my executors expose my body on a high rock to be consumed by vultures, cinereous and otherwise. I fear though that this is not a good idea as, in view of the treatment for my gammy knee, the very last vultures could be dropping from the skies, which really wasn’t my intention.

So I’ll have to think again about the funeral. Back to the cardboard coffin I suppose, recycled of course from the unsold copies of my book!

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