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The event had the desired result; it received excellent media coverage, and most definitely created, perhaps even underscored, awareness about the recent fatal entanglement of five tiger sharks, one great white, and a black tip in the nets.
To recapitualte: Fourteen (!!) medium sized tigers were caught within two days in the nets of which nine could be disentangled, and released, before suffocating. These are the "official" numbers as provided by the Natal Sharks Board, responsible for the maintenance of the controversial shark nets. Who knows how many of the nine tigers that were freed survived the ordeal of having been trapped in the gill nets.
This tragedy prompted the local shark dive operators and some shark enthusiasts to organize the "Paddle out for sharks" happening.
Lesley Rochat, a Cape Town resident who flew to Durban to support the initiative with her presence, wrote a blog which I feel conveys everything about the anti shark net ceremony.
Unfortunately, Lesley had to witness, again, that some of the supposedly "concerned" shark advocates who were out there could not refrain from showing how guileful and little bourgeois they are.
Here is what Lesley felt compelled to include in her blog:
"It was a truly special event, filled with hope, the dead ray reinforcing our motivation to come together. It was therefore disappointing to later hear that it was dampened by someone slinging a snide remark at me while out of earshot, which was cheered on by his supporters.
Clearly I had spoken too soon - slaves to their own issues, they were unable to be gracious and put down their weapons of difference at such a significant event.
I’m an activist so it doesn’t bother me what people say about me, and I actually thought the remark was very funny: “Is that Lesley? Didn’t recognize her with her clothes on!” LOL! It’s no surprise, however, that the hundreds of ‘like’s’ and ‘shares’ on the Facebook post of our CATCHES ANYTHING, KILLS EVERYTHING poster with me naked in the nets does not include a single one of these individuals, despite it being a powerful campaign against the nets.
But what does worry me is how we will ever win this battle while another battle against each other, the ones who care about the animals, exists. As much as I dislike the Sharks Board I am willing to sit with my enemy, engage with him, and find a way to save our animals.
By the same token I extend a challenge to recognize that while we might not all like each other, we need each other to win this mammoth battle. The longer I am a conservationist the more I become aware that the environmental battles we fight are nothing compared to the battles against human frailty we are up against. They are very often what prevent us from achieving our conservation goals.
It is sad, but I believe that this is one of the obstacles standing in our way from making progress to save our sharks and other marine life from dying in the shark nets. I do, however, believe that Sunday’s event was blessed by Hope’s presence, and was a positive move in the right direction toward a long road that still lies ahead."
The people Lesley refers to are the same self-centered, self-righteous, arrogant, and tribal shark dive operators I had a most regrettable "issue" with two years ago. What is it that folks like them cannot put their egos and selfish business interests behind them when an unequivocal demonstration of public consensus about shark conservation is of the essence?
Hard to understand....