Do or Die

An article from Do or Die Issue 7. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 33-34.

Animal Antics

Pissed off Primates and Road-Wreckin' Rabbits

Indonesians have long regarded the orang-utan as exceptionally intelligent - they are thought to be so shrewd that : "the Javanese maintain that these animals can speak but refuse to do so for fear of being made to work."

- "On the Track of Unknown Animals", Bernard Heuvelmans, 1958, p.110.

"September 21st 1993 - A Chinese oil tanker was attacked by a swarm of dragonflies in the Yellow Sea. A frightened crewman jumped overboard. Lookouts had sighted an "obstruction" five miles long by two miles wide skimming quickly towards the tanker."

- Fortean Times, no.72.

"Several years ago, in the depths of the suburban wastelands of Columbus, Ohio, ring-billed gulls bombarded a new golf course and its patrons with golf balls. The shocked golfers were forced to withdraw from their favourite water- and land-wasting activity for several weeks, and consider the fact that for many years these lands were nesting grounds for the birds."

- Fifth Estate, Fall/Winter 1993.

"Oxbow, New York - The residents of Sylvia Lake blew up a beaver dam this summer, but dynamite proved no match for America's most industrious rodent. Within four days the beavers had rebuilt their dam, stopping up a crucial outlet and raising Sylvia Lake to problem levels once again. On the 4th of July people barbecued on docks under six inches of water. Gale Ferguson… [a local resident] had never seen the water so high in nearly five decades on the lake… "Beavers have no social life," Mr. Ferguson sighed. "They had 24 hours a day to do this. They're near impossible to keep up with."

- The Guardian 5/9/96.


"Warrens dug by burrowing bunnies are threatening to undermine railway lines throughout the country, Railtrack says. Embankments and cuttings riddled with rabbit holes are at risk of collapsing in heavy rain… And it is not a problem that is limited to the railways. Supporters of Animal, Swampy and the other 'human moles' who protest against roads by digging tunnels underneath them may be happy to learn that they have been joined by some fellow subterranean subversives. According to the Scottish Office, rabbits are now busy undermining the embankments of the A9, the main road from Edinburgh to Inverness."

- New Scientist, 8/3/97.

"Electricity and phone services were knocked out for up to five million people from Canada to Mexico after power lines failed… on the 2nd of July… Hospitals from Seattle to San Diego faced crises and there was mayhem on the roads in 15 states. In San Francisco, the subway system was badly affected. Air conditioning was shut off as temperatures soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas. A number of power stations were knocked off line - including four 500 megawatt coal-fired power plants [in Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado]… Because the entire western third of the US is essentially linked by one big power grid, the failure had a powerful ripple effect. It was the biggest blackout since the one in New York in 1977, which left eight million people without power for 36 hours.

On 20th July, investigators announced that the blackout began with a transmission line short-circuiting when electricity jumped to a tree that had grown too close in a remote area about 100 miles east of the Kinport substation in south-eastern Idaho. The initial outage combined with record power demands… led to a gigantic ripple effect. The tree was executed."

[Exactly the same thing happened again on the 10th August, cutting power to four million homes and businesses in nine states, and to parts of Canada and Mexico.]

- AP, 3rd + 22nd July; NY. Times, 3rd July; The Guardian, 4th July 1996; AP, 17th August 1996.

"An army of computer-eating ants from the genus Monomorium, immune to many pesticides, are munching their way north from Brazil and could cripple technology across the US. Lured by the warmth of the terminals, which resemble anthills [Shurely Shome Mishtake? - Ed.], they feast on the sweet protective gel that coats circuit boards, exposing them to short circuits and corrosion. The ants also sabotage telephone circuitry, televisions and other products containing computer circuit boards… Cousins of the computer-eaters were found to have eaten through the wiring of the world's largest superconductor while under construction in Texas and short-circuiting the system in the now-abandoned project."

- The Express, 20/5/97.

"A flock of hawks closed a runway at Cairo airport for 45 minutes on 1st June, after a small plane killed one of their number during takeoff. They dispersed only after the body of the dead hawk was removed."

- Reuters, 2/6/97.

"At the beginning of the year, motorists on one of South Africa's busiest highways were harassed by a troop of baboons who ambushed them with showers of rocks. There had been three attacks on the highway between Cape Town and Johannesburg where it passes through the spectacular Du Toit's Kloop Pass. No injuries or crashes had been reported, but stone-throwing police engaged the animals in a battle on 7th January in a bid to drive them away."

- Reuters 9/1/97, in Fortean Times no.102, September 1997.

"The Saudi Okaz newspaper reported... that a man driving to work in the Khamis Mesheit region ran over one of a troop of monkeys roaming the southern desert. When the remaining monkeys spotted his car on the return journey, they jumped on it and smashed the windows with their fists."

"About 60 monkeys attacked joggers and visitors wearing yellow in the Penang Botanical Gardens the day after a youth wearing a yellow shirt had stoned a young monkey to death and taunted others. There are about 350 monkeys in the gardens, about 180 miles northwest of Kuala Lumpur."

- Ashbury Park Press 28/3/88 and Lincoln Journal 11/5/88, both quoted in Fortean Times no.52, Summer 1989.

"The launch of the space shuttle 'Discovery' was delayed from 8 June to 13 July when NASA discovered that two woodpeckers had made 135 holes, up to 4 inches in diameter, in the fuel tank's insulating foam. Technicians had to move the shuttle from the launch pad so that they could patch up all the holes, at a cost of nearly $100,000. The Kennedy Space Center is in a wildlife refuge. When the delayed countdown commenced, ground controllers serenaded the astronauts with Woody Woodpecker's trademark snicker."

- AP, 3rd June and 11th July 1995.

"Thousands of motorists across Switzerland, Austria and West Germany are now waking up to find their vehicles 'martenised' - with the ignition cables and coolant hoses gnawed so badly [by stone martens] that the car won't start. In the first nine months of 1988, more than 3,000 Swiss drivers filed a quarter of a million pounds worth of insurance claims relating to such damage. In April of the same year, in West Germany, a lone stone marten went on the rampage in a Munich car park and damaged 100 cars in a single night. And according to Audi, 10,000 of its customers are victimised annually."

- BBC Wildlife, May 1989.

All items VERY gratefully received - I'll be your Slave for a Day - and by the way, always remember: "All Power to the Tamworths!" Picture

Do or Die DTP/web team: