Cat’s Eyes.

Before I start writing my doe-eyed travel guides about Tasmania, I should address few, yet very concerning issues that need immediate attention.

Tasmania is the best place in the world. Hands down, there I said it. The untouched wilderness that is an ever-growing tapestry of green and blue. It is a haven of what the planet looked like before our madness. and what it should look like for the future generation.

Home to more than x types of marsupials and x number of bird species.

Tasmania has extremely diverse vegetation, from the heavily grazed grassland of the dry Midlands to the tall evergreen eucalypt forest, alpine heathlands and large areas of cool temperate rainforests and moorlands in the rest of the state. Many flora species are unique to Tasmania, and some are related to species in South America and New Zealand through ancestors which grew on the supercontinent of Gondwana, 50 million years ago.

The island of Tasmania was home to the thylacine, a marsupial which resembled a fossa or some say a wild dog. Known colloquially as the Tasmanian tiger for the distinctive striping across its back, it became extinct in mainland Australia much earlier because of competition by the dingo, introduced in prehistoric times. Owing to persecution by farmers, government-funded bounty hunters and, in the final years, collectors for overseas museums, it appears to have been exterminated in Tasmania. The Tasmanian devil became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936, and is now found in the wild only in Tasmania. Tasmania was one of the last regions of Australia to be introduced to domesticated dogs. Dogs were brought from Britain in 1803 for hunting kangaroos and emus. This introduction completely transformed Aboriginal society, as it helped them to successfully compete with European hunters, and was more important than the introduction of guns for the Aboriginals.

In my opinion, it is the template we should all base to repair the damage we have done to the planet. In 50 years if the majority of the earth can look like Tasmania, I think we’ve done something to change the state of this dying planet.

And before I start ranting on, how about some knowledge.

Cats Eyes

First installed in 1934 retroreflective safety device or cat eyes are installed to mark the edges of the road. Originally patented to the English inventor Percy Shaw cat’s eyes have saved countless human lives. The original form consisted of two pairs of reflective glass spheres set into a white rubber dome, mounted in a cast-iron housing. This is the kind that marks the centre of the road, with one pair of cat’s eyes showing in each direction. A single-ended form has become widely used in other colours at road margins and as lane dividers. Cat’s eyes are particularly valuable in fog and are primarily resistant to damage from snow ploughs.

A vital feature of the cat’s eye is the flexible rubber dome which is occasionally deformed by the passage of traffic. A fixed rubber wiper cleans the surface of the reflectors as they sink below the surface of the road (the base tends to hold water after a shower of rain, making this process even more efficient). The rubber dome is protected from impact damage by metal ‘kerbs’ — which also give tactile and audible feedback for wandering drivers.

We’ve all seen it. And this tech is from 1934. Amazing isn’t it.

And now, On with the issues.

The Littering Incident.

All along the roads from any significant attraction to the other Tasmania is paved with one of the best roads in the world. No wonder Targa Tasmania is famous and enjoyable to the driver. All streets are carefully measured and constructed. Which is superb news for travellers.

However, Certain drinks that are supposed to give you wings lay on the edges where road and nature meet. The amount of litter I saw even in conservation areas were alarming. Granted I’ve seen worse coming from the third world, but you have to understand the pristine level of natural beauty is bar none.

Apparently, if you just had a high caffeinated roid drink, you may be compelled to show off the bravado by throwing the litter straight out of your car like an ape. But please, Stop. Just leave it in the car mate. No one wants to see how many Redbull can you can chug during a road trip. So whatever you use in the car. Leave the packaging there.

As far as policy goes, I think Tassie government is doing what they can. As this is more of a personal choice, Awareness is the only method that can reduce the number of trash that accumulates.

If you lived under a rock and are the type of person to litter, please read this.

Predators on the loose.

Relax! Tassie devils are not predators. I am talking about our kind.

The second issue I saw in Tassie was the amount of road kill you have to drive over. As Tassie is home to a myriad of marsupials many end their life on the road.

A 2007 article published by Tassie parks states that the number of kills maybe in the millions per year and that there are no precaution methods to prevent road kill.

Since 2007 technology has taken leaps and bounds and here are some realistic ideas, the state government can fund to prevent roadkill.

ANIMAL BRIDGES

Animal bridges are just that — bridges designed for animals to safely cross human-made barriers, like highways. Numerous studies have shown that the construction and use of roads is a direct source of habitat fragmentation. Highways can rip right through territories that animals need to make use of. These bridges allow them to safely cross our busy lanes with ease by connecting their habitats once again. Animal bridges are becoming increasingly common in Canada and the United States, mainly where large animals like moose and deer roam.

ANIMAL TUNNELS

What goes up, must come down! Hence the need for animal tunnels, or ducts, that shuffle the creatures underneath busy roads or along the side of them.

SOLAR-POWERED ALERT PANELS

Zerokill is Solar Powered panels that are supposed to line the highway and help reduce animal road-kills during nighttime driving. It works in two ways: there are infrared sensors built into the body of, and when they detect an animal within the vicinity, they beam out subtle blinking LED lights, to warn the oncoming motorist. For the second part of the process, it reflects the oncoming car’s headlights, illuminating the sideways, as a warning to the animals. This is actually still just a concept, but I think it has some real promise.

Currently, there are few devices installed as a pilot program, I really hope they get the funding they need to make this a statewide program.

The biggest issue with road kill is the threat it poses to the Tassie devil community. As these beautiful little devils are scavengers, they are drawn to the rotting carcasses lying in the middle of the road. With their poor eyesight, devils have zero chance from dodging an oncoming truck. Couple this with face cancer, Tassie devils are well pretty much fucked.

We are all trying to see in the dark, the countless pademelons that cross the road in the night, humans walking around thinking we own the planet. It is time we install some cat’s eyes that will shine a light on matters before its too late. Or we can let what happened to the Thylacine happen to the rest of Tasmania as well.

Happy Whatever day it is.