Who are the animals on the man's backpack?

A friend asked me a question which I thought others may be interested in, too. It's about a photo I had on the blog several weeks ago:


The friend asked, what are the animals attached to the young man's backpack? And why are they there?

The answer is, the animals are possums.

They are native to Australia, but in the 19th century some were brought over to New Zealand in an attempt to establish a fur industry. Because they lacked predators in New Zealand, what actually happened was... they thrived to a point where in the 20th century their numbers were estimated at about 60 million. They are considered a major pest and Department of Conservation has an extensive programme aimed at bringing the numbers down. At the moment they're at about 30 million, I think.

Because their fur can be used by the clothing industry (when mixed with merino wool it makes for superior fibre), possum fur goes for over $100 a kilo.

The young man in the photo was one of the guides at Fox glacier where I interned in 2009. The guiding company 'serviced' some traps along the route to the glacier (they would set them last thing at night and check first thing in the morning) and when he found possums in the traps, he would take them home, pluck the fur and when he'd gather up enough fur, he'd sell it.

So that's what the photo is about: two dead possums attached to his backpack as he is walking home from the glacier.

Talking of which: in May when I visit Estonia, my book about Alaska will be re-published with a small addition about New Zealand in the back of it. An epilogue, if you may.

In it I explain some of it. For example:

"The people in New Zealand were, I started to realise, vastly different to one another. On top of the racial and cultural diversity which was to be expected because of how endemic it was to most Western societies, New Zealand had an added variety-factor: its terrain. On Fox glacier there were still men who earned bulk of their living trapping animals in the mountain ranges of the national parks and selling fur to clothing fibre manufacturers. Further down the coast there was a family with two kids living a two day walk from the nearest road, and surrounded by mountainous bush. Martins Bay holiday cottages were even further, a four day walk out of the roading network. In a lot of Western countries, such distances of remoteness were simply not possible, geographically speaking."

6 comments:

  1. Kas sa oskad öelda, kas ja millal võib ka raamatuesitlus tulla? Või teisele trükile enam esitlust ei tehta? Ma ise olen vast veel maikuus Eestis ja tore oleks kohtuda uuesti ning ehk ka raamaturiiulisse autogrammiga kaunistatud raamat soetada.

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    1. Kuupäevi veel öelda ei oska, aga arvatavasti mingisugune üritus (või paar) tuleb küll. Eestis olen muidu 4-18. mail. Millal sina Eestist tagasi Uus-Meremaa suunas lendad?

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    2. Ma ise lähen vist maikuu keskel USAsse ja sealt siis jaanipäeva paiku edasi Uus-Meremaale. Täpsemad kuupäevad sõltuvad viisamajandusest. Aga tundub, et ehk siis õnnestub kohtuda =)

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  2. Selge värk :D Ilma infota näeb see pilt ikka väga kummaline välja. No ei saa ju nii olla, et kaks looma kohe sedasi kellegile kallale kargasid. Või et keegi niisama enda koti külge kaks suurt ja karvast looma riputaks (noh nagu võtme/lukuhoidjad näiteks :D).

    Mis aga su raamatusse puutub, siis ma nii ootan, et sa UUE raamatu kirjutaksid. Ma isiklikult ei saa hästi aru, et miks kordustrükkidele peab lisasi juurde lisama. Mul on su Alaska raamat juba olemas ja ma arvan, et enamustel kes seda soovinud on samuti, et miks kordustrüki puhul peab sinna midagi veel juurde lisama. Ma ju ei hakka Alaska raamatut sellepärast nüüd uuesti ostma, kuigi ma olen sellest lisast väga huvitatud. Su vana Alaska raamatut vaadates jääb nüüd tunne, et tegu oleks justkui pooliku raamatuga :( Sama lugu ka teiste Minu sarja kordustrüki raamatutega.

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    1. Ma kirjutan uut raamatut praegu, muideks :). Kui ta valmis saab, siis saab hakata kirjastajatega suhtlema, või ise kirjastada - ei tea veel, aeg näitab. Aga arvatavasti see Uus-Meremaa raamat ei tule Minu sarjas. Uus-Meremaa Minu-raamatut teeb üks teine inimene praegu ja ta on vist lausa kirjutamise lõpufaasis?

      See epiloogi lisamine on aga selline... plussid ja miinused, eks. Et ühest küljest on ju tore, kui saab lugeda raamatut, mis kümme aastat tagasi kirjastati ning teada saada, kus autor nüüd on. Sest kui uuesti trükkida, miks mitte lisada, kui saab? Umbes nagu raamatute uustrükke parandatakse - Julia Child'i kokaraamatud ei ole ju praegu samasugused, nagu nad 60-ndatel olid, kuigi raamatu "baas" on sama. Aga ma saan aru, mida sa silmas pead. Ei ole ideaalset lahendust.

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    2. Uue raamatu uudis on super! Sa tegelikult oled ju seda ka oma blogis kirjutanud, et sa raamatut kirjutad. Pöidlad pihku et kirjutamine edukalt sujuks ja raamat ruttu müüki jõuaks.

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