I had a vision of dead goats in a dream while owner of dead herds stood in the middle crying. We visited owner with soul food, cooked meals to fellowship but instead found him too grieving to enjoy meal then I woke up. I checked the Bible for prophecies on goats and I looked at the closest images on google that seeems close enough to recount and share my dream. This process brought me unexpectedly to goats being culled in Galapagos as I was about to write this blog. In the Bible Judas knew what he was doing when he double-crossed his friend Jesus. “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” he asked conspiring priests in the famous Bible story. The story of Judas Goat is more tragic. She had no idea she was leading her friends to their deaths. Her captors sterilized her first, coated her with hormones so she reeked of fertility. They collared her with a radio-tracking device and let her loose. Nearby male goats smelled and sought her out. As soon as they found her, people swooped in and shot them. The hunters saved Judas, so they could repeat the set-up again and again.
It was all part of a six-year, $6 million project in which conservationists killed nearly 80,000 feral goats on Santiago Island in the Galápagos. Similar goat genocides had happened on 128 other islands, including nearby Pinta, but never on any as large as Santiago, which spans 144,470 acres. The goats, introduced by sailers hundreds of years earlier, were decimating all flavours of vegetation there, putting ground birds, giant tortoises and species in danger. So officials conservationist in Galápagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation decided the goats had to go. The logistical details are fascinating. The first phase, from December 2001 to January 2004, was ground hunting. Researchers recruited locals, many of whom had never hunted before, and taught them how to use hunting dogs, rifles, radios, telemetry and GPS. Then they started the cold and systematic business of killing let out a little gasp when reading a description of one of the techniques from a research paper:
During the first 2 years of the campaign, we corralled goats in the highlands where they concentrated during dry months. We constructed temporary corrals with winged extensions of netting (10 x 10-cm mesh) strung between trees or posts at an average of 1.8 m high, with a skirt hanging on the ground weighted down with rocks. We used winged extensions, up to 6.5 km long, to funnel animals into corrals. Goats were mustered into corrals by hunters on foot or horseback, along with the aid of air horns and rifle shots. We euthanized corralled goats in accordance with American Association of Zoo Veterinarians guidelines.
Looked up those wildlife management of goats, they recommend an overdose of succinylcholine followed by a stun-gun or shotgun to the head. The ground-hunting phase of project killed 53,782 goats. The second phase was 3 months of aerial attacks, by specialized hunters from New Zealand using semiautomatic rifles. This video tells you all you need to know about Phase 2:
Ground and aerial hunting wiped out 98.5 percent of the goat population on Santiago. But the thing about eradication is, you can’t just do a pretty good job. If one pregnant goat manages to escape, all of your progress could be reversed. As the researchers explain in that paper: “For large-scale eradication to succeed and maximize conservation return on investment, an eradication ethic is essential. Every animal, from the ﬁrst to the last, must be treated as last animal on the island. The campaign embraces a zero-escape policy.” That’s why the Judas Goat is so important: she finishes the job. There were 213 Judas Goats involved in Santiago job: males, females and hormone-doused females. The latter, nicknamed Mata Haris, were most effective. Between June 2004 and November 2005, Judas Goats entrapped 1,174 others, completing eradication. A year later, the researchers came back and covered the entire island again with hunters and dogs. The only goats left were Judas Goats. At the time, it was the largest most successful mammal eradication project ever done. Previous efforts had taken two or three decades to kill far fewer animals, partly because they only used a few dozen Judas Goats. After the win on Santiago, authorities launched another eradication campaign on the much larger island of Isabela. The top half of the island, which is not inhabited by humans, is clear of goats. On both islands, after goats left vegetation came back with a vengeance, and so did some endemic species. In Santiago, population of Galápagos rail, a brown ground bird, went up more than 10 times. Rationally, I should have no trouble with the mass killings. as not a vegetarian and not particularly fond of goats. The researchers seem to follow ethical standards, and they’re doing it all in the name of biodiversity. Yet, emotionally, hearing about killing sprees makes it queasy not the only one. Back to States a traveler wrote in email:
I really enjoyed trip, but the one big downer for me was extermination of the goats and the donkeys and their very anti-Darwin approach…
Everything has a right to live. The goats could have been herded and shipped to Australia. Not as cheap or as macho as slaughtering them from helicopters, but then no-kill shelters cost more to run than kill shelters. As you can guess I did not contribute to the continued extermination of non-endemic species in the Galapagos.
Wondering if eradication campaigns, for good done has a serious downside. Are they, anti-Darwinian in a way that matters, scientifically is the negative emotional reaction causing the lots of tourists to hold on to money otherwise donated to conservation organizations? How about encouraging people, export of goats to neighbouring countries or fences to contain them for the herders to sell globally. Australians encourage people to eat kangaroo meat so could a similar solution not be found there? In an age of famine and drought it seems meat destroyed could be eaten by those who eat meat. Why not processed meat to sell frozen or as used in pet foods?
The goat story has similarities in Bible from Matthew 25:31–46: “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. metaphorically speaking God uses imagery to give Gospel truth to warn people to learn the Bible message. Is it possible God is saying, although His perfect soul food to feed mankind has already been provided in Jesus yet some ‘goats’ may be too late culled by enemy before rescue? The Bible’s use of goats and sheep as metaphors for Christians is symbolic of the church compared with the sheep. Christ is the Good Shepherd and His sheep stated in John 10:11, 14. Traits of sheep in Psalm 23 and John 10 gives a picture of eternal life but goats condemnation. The goats are used by God to symbolize evil in numerous instances in the Bible. In Zechariah 10:3 God says says HE will punish the goats. In Matthew 25:31-46 Christ’s Parable of sheep and the goats tells of His return to judge the nations. Verse 33 says, Christ will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” The sheep are given eternal life, but the goats are cast into the lake of fire. This Scripture shows it is better to be a sheep and not those goats. God uses goats in negative light but as admirable, intelligent, sensitive, playful animals they quickly respond to individual attention affection. But goats are very capricious, impulsive, unpredictable, devious and contrary. When grazing, is not unusual to see their heads through a fence, straining to reach the grass that is always greener on other side. They climb trees to graze, stand on their hind legs, stretching for tender leaves out of reach. Goats are never content with what they have. They are experts in opening gates and squeezing through small gaps because they hate to be confined. Fences that will handle sheep, cattle, and horses will not hold goats so work tirelessly to spring themselves from situations they deem inhibiting.
Consequently, goats are not very good followers. “Gregarious behavior” is the term referring to flock or herd instincts found in sheep, cattle or horses. Again, this quality is rather weak in goats; they prefer leading or going off on their own. Meat packers use this instinct in sheep and goats to their advantage. They train an old goat called “Judas,” to lead sheep to pen to slaughter. A well-trained Judas will lead group after group of sheep to slaughter all day long. Goats possess a stubborn streak. A friend once tried to move a goat in a certain direction. Goats resist direction of shepherd so go off in own direction the goat wanted to go in. Goats are intelligent, playful, impulsive, unpredictable, and devious. The goat’s characteristics is clear, though not evil, is used as a scape goat. Some of their traits are similar to the spiritually found in some Christians as unpredictable, not listening to instructions or directions of God thinking above all. A goat is one who independently does own thing, so wants to take over and ruin it all. So has trouble functioning in a group, and does not want to be led under control of their leaders. In chapter 3:13 James’ advice to leader is follow higher standard of God:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct his works are done in the meekness of wisdom of God.
In Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 660, the commentator writes these verses:
This passage says teachers, must aim to teach doctrine of God, have personal affection for Christ, and produce ETERNAL good fruits.
Goats in a congregation tend to divide it, leading the sheep astray. Many goat-like characteristics, some good, some bad so as understand in the biblical metaphor about goats, and what Christ says their ultimate end will be, we can look on this side of ourselves in a more urgent light. A Christian cannot stand still but not all movement is proper growth, Christian’s life must move in the right direction on path of Kingdom of God. Not want to be sidetracked by following own choosing on a whim out of stubbornness or need for independence. A sheep follows the Shepherd, peacefully moving forward with the flock, content to be led because faith in God. A sheep responds to their Shepherd’s voice and goes as directed. A goat follows own lead creating disunity when in contact with others in the flock. Because of an independent nature often finds in contention with the Shepherd for leadership of the flock, leading some astray. A goat eats things sheep would avoid because they have no value and cause sickness. These serious spiritual characteristics of sheep or a goat and goats leave room for food for thought. Some sheep and goats perish in storms seen on November 15, 2013, two days after a ferocious storm and after days of heavy floods in Somalia’s northeastern Puntland. And in drought striken zones suddenly die through starvation, lack of water or thunder strikes. The unforseen circumstances are challenging affecting both animals and humans especially the cost of causes beyond human control. In end times, prophecies predict uncertain weather patterns affecting nature as part of the bigger picture of changes happening globally. Despite misfortunes booming goat sales is thriving business with Nigeria flying 300,000 goats each week to Saudi Arabia so why not sell the goats to invest in restoring the land.
1. Courtesy: © 1994 Church of the Great God
PO Box 471846 Charlotte,
NC 28247-184(803) 802-7075
2. This is fifth installment of a six-week series about recent trips to Galápagos. You can find the other posts here.
Photo by Randal Vegter