EDITORIAL: The Bali Delusion

We are blessed on this island with a wealth of readily available, and affordable, technology that is on a par with that of many nations, and in some cases far surpasses it. This is a fortuitous by-product of the multibillion-dollar tourism industry that demands instant and reliable access to the wider world.

Where once such luxuries as high-speed internet and satellite-relayed television were the sole realm of the well-to-do, nowadays in Bali, mass-market appeal sees these products eminently inexpensive and, for the most part, reliable.

Long gone, now, are the days when foreigners holidaying in Bali and resident here bemoaned dial-up internet that never connected or sought weeks-old newspapers to try to get a glimpse of what was going on outside the island.

These days, everyone is connected, and in the know.

Or so we thought.

It continues to surprise us that a section of expatriate life in Bali remains as closed off to external events, and their consequences here, as ever. Some openly admit they have no idea what’s going on, as though they were living in the Dark Ages and not the 21st Century.

The biggest threat to human life on this island remains the deadly rabies virus, which continues to cut down people, young and old. The death toll is inching towards 70 since the outbreak was identified in the southernmost Bukit area in late 2008, and hardly a week goes by without another death reported. Yet as this horrific disease multiplies in the vast reservoir of stray dogs roaming the island, some people in Bali remain in the dark – and worse, hold animal welfare higher than that of humans.

These people are fierce critics of attempts to control the extraordinary number of stray dogs in Bali. They adopt a kind of laissez-faire put-animals-first outlook as people — all Balinese to date — die around them. Let us not cull dogs but vaccinate them and that will solve the problem, they vociferously cry, as the lines of people bitten by strays grow longer at hospital vaccination queues. Such folk vehemently insist the authorities’ rabies-control measures are doomed, because their hearts bleed at the sight of piled-up dead dogs. They say killing dogs doesn’t work, that only vaccination does, and cite international case studies and advice.

We have made our case for culling of Bali’s stray dogs on this page before and won’t repeat it today. But we will reiterate this: Decades of lax (or no) control over dogs has led to this human health crisis. Bali’s stray dogs have been irresponsibly allowed to multiply at will — we still see this every day on the streets — to the extent that the population has exploded and become unmanageable. It needs to be wiped out, and along with it the rabies virus. For anyone to suggest otherwise is evidence of a deathly delusion.

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3 Responses to “EDITORIAL: The Bali Delusion”

  1. Derek Says:

    I agree, 100%

  2. Maria Says:

    I do agree that there is an uncontrollable number of stray dogs on Bali. But the Balinese authorities are to blame for the lack of control!

    Even though it breaks my heart, I believe (and I think most people would agree) that the problem can only be solved by culling a part of these dogs and vaccinate AND neutering the rest. But we do demand it will be done in a humane way. Not by feeding them poisened food for example, an easy and cheap way.

    No animal has to suffer for people’s mistakes!

  3. Tim Chapman Says:

    I remember a few years back in UK a rabies outbreak where the authorities, shot, trapped or gassed every living thing within several miles radius of the occurence.

    Britain doesn’t have rabies as a result of ruthless controls.

    I am a dog lover and have a dog myself but would rather see every stray in Bali shot rather than have a Human case of this disease.

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