One of the books I am currently reading is ‘The Poppy; A history of conflict, loss, remembrance & redemption’ by Nicholas J. Saunders. The book presents aspects of the beauty, pain, pleasure and tragedy of the poppy throughout history. Nicholas takes us on a journey from Ancient Egypt right through to the current day and the more recent conflict in Afghanistan.

As I was reading the book the following passage stood out and gave me pause for thought:

During the 1960s and 1970s, antelope and water buffalo became opium addicts during the conflicts in Vietnam and Cambodia. In normal times, the animals consume just enough of the opium poppy to numb pain or relieve tiredness, but the intensity of modern warfare, incessant bombing and barrages and machine-gun fire drove them to eat more and more of the world’s most ancient euphoric plant. It had a deadly effect. ‘Water buffalo within earshot of combat zones were… were observed browsing opium poppies, showing signs of addiction and withdrawal’.

I was drawn to read the related end-notes, the source of the information. I found it to be even more curious than the passage that led me there.

Siegal, R.R. 2005: 128. Arguably more inexplicable is a recent case linking animals with opium poppies and crop circles. Tasmania grows the world’s largest crop of legal opiates for the pharmaceutical industry – supplying fifty per sent of the global total for the production of morphine and related opiates. In 2009, Tasmania’s attorney-general Lara Giddings said that, ‘We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going round in circles… Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high.’ (Associated Press. 2009). Rick Rockliff, the field operations manager for Tasmanian Alkaloids, added that sheep also would graze on poppy stubble and ‘they would follow each other around in large circles’. (Tedmanson 2009). The media fascination with crop circles and opium-snacking wallabies has a personal association also as it was my uncle, David Chorley, who, together with Doug Bower ‘invented’ the crop-circle phenomenon in southern England during the 1970s.

10 Comments CherryPie on Jan 26th 2015

10 Responses to “The Effects of War”

  1. rusty duck says:

    Wonderful snippets Cherie. Although possibly not for the wallabies and sheep, who no doubt had a headache the next morning.

  2. JD says:

    More synchronicity!!
    I was just reading today about the water buffalo etc here-

  3. ....peter:) says:

    i like your image of the poppies in the wind Cherie!

  4. james higham says:

    Most resilient little flower, the poppy.

  5. Amfortas says:

    Take whatever Lara Giddings says with a pinch of salt. Well, a kilo of it. She is not called Lala for nothing.