The Ibis- a Hero, not a Villain!

By Richard Lancaster

On a well-known radio station recently the presenter of the early afternoon show was discussing various topical issues of the day with a panel of guests. A report from Canada told of police arresting a man for feeding squirrels and the radio presenter and guests found this hilarious. One of the guests mentioned Brisbane’s Ibis population, saying that the bird fell into the same `pest` category as the squirrel in Canada. One guest even called the Ibis horrible, saying it was a dirty bird, which stole food from humans and ate garbage from rubbish bins.

What these uninformed people failed to understand was that the much maligned white Ibis is an Australian native and is closely related to the sacred Ibis which was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians. These sacred birds kept the Pharaohs fishponds free of poisonous water snails and were rewarded by being given the status of an Egyptian god named Thoth, the god of Wisdom, Knowledge and Writing. There are 26 species of Ibis and they come in a variety of colours, including scarlet, green, black and purple. The Ibis’ natural habitat are the wetlands of Australia, but human encroachment and drought have forced this bird species to migrate elsewhere and they now occupy our cities in ever increasing numbers. They are not afraid of humans, which puts them at odds with some of us.

They are deprecatingly called Bin Chickens, Tip Turkeys, Dumpster Divers and Flying Rats. I believe we should learn to appreciate this wonderful bird species, not only because they systematically move around cleaning up the garbage that we humans litter, but also because of their wonderful ability to very quickly adapt to this very hostile human environment that they have come to call home.

But there may be salvation on the horizon for the Ibis and that is to be given an elevated status in life. Recent community discussion on a suitable emblem for the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane has evolved with the public opinion discarding the Koala, the Platypus and the Kangaroo as being `old hat`. Current favourites for the honour are the Magpie and yes… the Ibis. Could the emblem perhaps become Ivan the Ibis?





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