Tsá Tué – Where People & Animals Are Equal

The Dene Déline are a First Nation people of Canada, with a name-meaning that positively sings:
“Where the water flows”
The People of Great Bear Lake

The settlement of Déline lies on the western shore of Great Bear Lake in the remote Northwest Territories. Great Bear Lake, which is sacred to the Dene Déline, is as vast as the ocean. And so pristine, so pure, “you can lower a cup into the water and drink it.” ¹

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Sahtú Gotı̨ch’ádı́ı – Wildlife of the Sahtú Region Facebook page

The Dene Déline’s spiritual connection with the lake is ancient and profound – their other name, Sahtuto’ine, means ‘People of Bear Lake’. There is a myth passed down through the generations that at the bottom of the lake there lies a gigantic beating heart, a water-heart which gives life to the grass and the trees, the insects, the birds, the animals – and to them. To everything.

“There are prophecies, and relationships with the lake that go back thousands of years. There is, in fact, a prophecy that talks about Great Bear Lake being one of the last remaining bodies of freshwater on this planet.” Stan Boychuk, expert in First Nation culture.

The prophecy he refers to was made by a Dene Déline elder by the name of Eht’se Ayah, who “foretold that in the future, people from the south would come to Great Bear Lake because it would be one of the few places left with water to drink and fish to eat. He said so many boats would come that you could walk from one to another without entering the water. Simply put, Great Bear Lake would be a last refuge for humanity.” ¹

Today, in the 21st century, Eht’se Ayah’s prophecy has already partly come true. Of the 10 largest lakes in the world (yes, we may never have heard of Great Bear Lake, but it comes in at no. 8, bigger than Belgium and deeper than Lake Superior), it is the only one still remaining unspoilt, intact, primeval.

Unexpectedly, a new report from NASA of all things, gives additional credibility to Ayah’s prophecy. NASA’s GRACE satellite mission finds that of the world’s 37 largest aquifers (layers of water-bearing permeable rock under the Earth’s surface), 21 are being depleted at an unsustainable rate, and of those, 8 have little or no water recharging them. We “are inching toward a world where fresh water is much more difficult to come by.” Read more

The Dene Déline’s Territory, Tsá Tué

A while back, if you wanted to visit the township of Déline on the lake shore, you would need to take a hair-raising 200 mile drive along an ice road in the winter time, the only time you could get there by road, and when the temperature is in the minus 20s C. Nowadays you can fly to see the wonder that is Tsá Tué, the 36,000 sq miles of taiga around Déline – ancient boreal forest and water, and one of UNESCO’s most newly-designated biospheres. You can see from the map below how remote Tsá Tué is. And, what 36,000 sq miles looks like – BIG!

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Sahtú Gotı̨ch’ádı́ı – Wildlife of the Sahtú Region Facebook page

You would be forgiven for thinking that sometime over my many years I might have stumbled across biospheres, especially as there are 669 of them dotted about the world. But no. Now I have though, I’m very excited. They are SSSSs – ‘Science for Sustainability Support Sites’, jargon for those special places where human life and activity is both sustainable, and in balance with the local ecosystem.

A UNESCO biosphere typically comprises three interrelated zones:
  • A core ecosystem of strictly protected landscape, wildlife and plants, with enough genetic diversity to maintain a healthy population of local species
  • A buffer zone surrounding the core where only activity compatible with research, education and training is permitted
  • A transition area – the outer circle – where human economic activity goes on, in a way that is culturally and ecologically sustainable
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The Spreewald Biosphere in Germany

You’ll find biospheres in the Volga floodplain in Russia, in the Maldives, Ecuador, China, India, Japan – in 120 different countries. Closer to home there’s one in France’s Dordogne region, and here in the UK, Galloway & southern Ayrshire where two biospheres merge.

Back at Tsá Tué

Tsá Tué is not only one of the most recently designated biospheres (2016); it’s not only the largest on the North American continent; it is also the only one in the world entirely controlled by an indigenous people. Shortly after its designation by UNESCO as a biosphere, the Canadian government granted Déline self-government, strengthening the Sahtuto’ine’s ability to protect their land and Great Bear Lake. And this is how they celebrated that historic moment in the life of their people:

Tsá Tué’s biodiversity is rich and healthy

The Sahtuto’ine live in harmony with the lake and the land, seeing themselves as stewards of this magnificent piece of N. American wilderness. They have been here for 6000 years, as much a part of the landscape as the grizzlies, moose and caribou they share it with, the snowshoe hares, the arctic foxes, wolves, wolverines and lynx.

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Moose mother and calves

And birds: ducks and geese, sparrows, finches, waxwings, warblers, sandpipers, cranes, hawks and eagles in their billions. All these and more nest and raise young in the Canadian taiga, feasting on the humid summer’s swarms of insects, and fall’s berry bonanza before they leave once more, migrating to more temperate climes.

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Cedar waxwing

Tsá Tué’s biodiversity has suffered no diminution in recent years – unlike the devastating losses in the ecosystems of, for instance, the Borneo rainforest or the Amazon basin. That isn’t just down to the almost inaccessible remoteness of the territory the Sahtuto’ine inhabit, although that certainly helps. Even supposing they had little respect for the plant and animal life they live among (but the very opposite is the case), with a tiny population of just 600 souls they would be very hard pressed to make much of an impact on their vast wilderness environment. In Tsá Tué, the Sahtuto’ine average 1 person to every 60 sq miles. Compare that with the UK’s 1,010 people to 1 sq mile. Little wonder our own biodiversity is under such severe pressure.

In that case, why does Tsá Tué need this biosphere designation from UNESCO?

The designation will help this tiny community resist attempts from outsiders to exploit their land. Predatory multinational corporations find ways of circumventing protections, even those instituted at national level. There is reason to fear. The area’s natural resources have been plundered before.²

Being an SSSS will make it that much harder to do. And that together with their new self-governing status means their future as a people, and the guardianship of Tsá Tué, belong entirely in their own hands.

Sahtuto’ine beliefs – “When People and Animals were Equal”

“There was a time when it was believed that everyone was the same – animals, birds and humans. It was believed that a creature or a human could change from animal to bird, human to animal, bird to animal. It was also believed that with the change, animals and birds had the power to speak.”

That time “came to an end about the time the first European explorers arrived in the area. By then, most animals no longer had the power to speak or to change their appearance. Only medicine persons with strong dream power could still talk to the animals.” ³

wolves-2058902_960_720“Every seed is awakened and so is all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our animal neighbours the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land”

The wisdom of Sitting Bull, a Teton Dakota chief of the 19th century, not a Sahtuto’ine of course, but voicing a belief common to all First Nation peoples of N. America.

Historically, “Animals were respected as equal in rights to humans. Of course they were hunted, but only for food, and the hunter first asked permission of the animal’s spirit. Among the hunter-gatherers the land was owned in common: there was no concept of private property in land, and the idea that it could be bought and sold was repugnant. Many Indians had an appreciation of nature’s beauty as intense as any Romantic poet.

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“The Indians viewed the white man’s attitude to nature as the polar opposite of the Indian. The white man seemed hell-bent on destroying not just the Indians, but the whole natural order, felling forests, clearing land, killing animals for sport.”▪︎ 

But the Sahtuto’ine traditional culture remains little changed. We can be sure they will continue to treasure the priceless pristine wilderness that is Tsá Tué. It could not be in safer hands.

Let’s give the last word to Sahtuto’ine Walter Behza, who has had the responsibility of managing these boreal lands for many years and is now official Integrated Resource Management Advisor for Tsá Tué:

“Listen to what the land wants, listen to what the lake wants, listen to what the animals want”

(If only everyone would do the same)


¹New York Times

²”The area became prominent when pitchblende was discovered at the Eldorado Mine, some 250 km (160 mi) away, on the eastern shore, at Port Radium. During World War II, the Canadian Government took over the mine and began to produce uranium for the then-secret American nuclear bomb project. Uranium product was transported from Port Radium by barge across Great Bear Lake where a portage network was established along the Bear River, across the bay from Fort Franklin, where many of the Dene men found work. As the risks associated with radioactive materials were not well communicated, it is believed that many of the Dene were exposed to dangerous amounts of radiation,[8] which Déline residents believe resulted in the development of cancer and led to premature deaths. Wiki

³A Dene Way of Life

▪︎North American Indians: the spirituality of nature

Other sources

At biggest biospere in N. America, humans live in harmony with nature – MNN

The World is Running Out of Fresh Water – One Green Planet

Listen to What the Land Wants – PressReader

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More of Trump’s dismantling of the environment? Click link above for full list. The better news is that around the world 23 new biospheres have been designated. Full list in the article.

 

 

 

 

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Humans’ Schizoid View of Animals Exposed in Subversive Art

“In addition to our household cat, I had numerous pets – frogs, lizards, rats, turtles, fish, a rabbit and a family of adorable ducks. My childhood was replete with books about animals, animal toys and images of cute and cuddly animals… There I was, like most children, growing up believing I loved animals yet I was consuming animals daily. Whilst my love of animals was fostered, my taste for animal products was simultaneously cultivated.”

New Zealand-born prizewinning vegan artist Claude Jones describes her childhood – conditioned like every typical child into sustaining two completely contradictory ideas about animals at the same time in one brain. What we now, of course, call cognitive dissonance.

“My work seeks to expose such obvious contradictions in the face of widespread, culturally ingrained acceptance of this schism.”

Her work which appears quite simple, has a lot going on under the surface. She employs a deceptively innocent fairytale style, delicately drawn and in soft colours, as if for kids’ storybooks. The animals she depicts are anthropomorphised just as they so often are in children’s books. But our minds struggle to make sense of what our eyes are telling us – the shocking incongruity of the actions they are engaged in. Rabbits, universally viewed as timid and gentle, are seen wielding knives against other animals. A dog is bullfighting, or acting as circus ringmaster to a performing elephant, or experimenting on a hapless rabbit. Any given animal can appear as either perpetrator or victim. And yet all of them portraying ‘normal’ human activities that are not only legal but culturally acceptable, and accepted.

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But let Claude continue her story: “For some time [as a child] I could only assume that we ate animals when they had died of old age. … we attempt to compensate for the murder of our fellow sentient beings in bucolic images in stories and animated films of happy, healthy farm animals grazing and sunbathing in lush fields, joyously bounding about, scratching, sniffing the earth, cuddling their human companions, and so on. I soon came to understand the brutal truth and simply could not reconcile my love of animals with harming them, let alone killing them. With plenty of other food options to choose from, at age 16, I decided to become a vegetarian.”

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“Much later, in 2010, I finally made the connection between all animal products and animal suffering and decided it was time to shift from vegetarianism to veganism.”

Claude-Jones_Bull-terror_2015_mixed-media-on-paper_15x15cm“I find myself simultaneously fascinated and frustrated by our contradictory treatment of animals. Our human-centric perspective of the animal world positions rabbits, for example, as both cuddly companion animals but also as, laboratory specimens, meat and fur “products”. We support an industry that raises millions of pets that are accepted members of families yet trap, cage, torture and kill billions of animals annually for food, fur, leather.  My work seeks to expose such obvious contradictions in the face of widespread, culturally ingrained acceptance of this schism.”Claude-jones_Bullies_2015_mixed-media-on-paper_85x141cm

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Much of Claude’s work reveals her concern about modern science’s meddling with nonhumans. In an earlier post  I wrote about the science of gene-editing, CRISPR. Using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) humans can now edit the genes of both animals and plants to ‘custom-build’ them in any way considered desirable and/or profitable. So already you can for example, if you have the money, order yourself a designer dog with black and yellow stripes – or brown with red spots – yes really. Maybe the creature Claude depicts here isn’t so very fanciful.

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Take a look at some of the other bizarre creatures of Claude’s imagination in her Gallery collection, ‘Hybrid”. At one and the same time amusing and nightmarish, I think you’ll agree. But too close to present day scientific reality for comfort.

Fantastical hybrids appear in many world mythologies. The ancient Greeks, for instance, told of the dread Chimaera, a flame-belching monster made of body parts from three different animals. Nowadays the all-too-real ‘chimaeras’ don’t breath fire, but are every bit as monstrous – gene-edited pigs made to grow up with human hearts, ‘harvested’ at the right time to remedy the shortage of human-donated organs for human transplants.

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“Jones questions the domination of humankind over all animal life, and our assumed right to meddle with the natural order of other species.”

Simon Gregg, Art Curator

For me Claude’s powerful art epitomises the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. It speaks volumes about Man’s rationally untenable, schizoid relationship with his fellow creatures.

Visit Claude’s website to learn more, and browse through her gallery of disturbing and thought-provoking pictures. There’s a good chance you will feel the need to fix a conflicted mind (and soul, and life), the inevitable result of attempting the impossible: making sense of schizoid presumptions about our fellow animals that are, unhappily, conventional wisdom today.

If that resonates with you, you could do much worse than trying vegan. It’s not hard and the rewards are great. As great as bringing your life into sweeter harmony with Life. I guarantee it.

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Animal Escape Artists – 5 of the Best

Cover pic LiveScience

Bonnie & Clyde, High Park Zoo Toronto,

Why I Love Loud Women, Especially Loud Vegan Women

“Well behaved women seldom make history”

… Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Dutch-born vegan Nancy Holten is a long time resident in Switzerland. Her kids were born there. She’s raising them there. But because her activism for the animals is “too annoying”, she has had her application for Swiss citizenship turned down for the third time.
Passionate vegans are no strangers to activism backlash. It comes in all shapes and forms, from the prosecution of Toronto Pig Save’s Anita Kranjc, and Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project’s incarceration and deportation from Japan, through to violent physical attacks on hunt sabs and vicious bullying in the school yard.
“People were telling me to kill myself by drowning in milk or by cutting myself with a razor blade. One teacher at the school told me I should go to TAFE¹ because I am ‘not a mainstream student’.”

… 16-year-old vegan schoolgirl Kaila Mackay.

More commonly, vegans experience backlash in the form of vitriolic abuse on social media. Unpleasant though that may be, the personal cost to the vegan post-ers is hopefully not as life-changingly prejudicial as being refused citizenship of the country where you’ve lived most of your life. Nancy Holten’s case has to be a first.

Speaking for myself, I was a child of the 50s and the youngest of 3 – a small girl in the shadow of two bigger, stronger, faster, cleverer brothers. In the small island where we lived everyone knew everyone, and you fell over backwards never to give offence. A setting for a golden childhood, but sterile soil for growing gobby girls with the promise of sprouting into loud proud women. It would have taken someone very special, and that very special someone I was not. So on the outside I became exactly what the island community thought I should be, a “well-behaved” girl who kept her maverick thoughts entirely to herself. This little girl had felt to her cost at a young age the angry stamping-on those kind of thoughts invited if she dared to speak them out loud. I never looked like making history.

You could be ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ and ‘gentle’ and ‘good’, all acceptable ‘feminine’ qualities. But if you were loud you were clearly none of those things, because being loud was the very antithesis of what was expected of the female of the species.

From then until now I’ve always had problems with my throat and my voice. My daughter puts it down to my having been effectively silenced, unable to ‘speak my truth’.

That was all last century though, before second-wave feminism came along. You would hope that kind of suppressive social pressure is long departed. But apparently not. It seems it’s alive and well in vegan Nancy Holten’s little Swiss town of Gipf-Oberfrick. Nancy however, is not to be silenced.

We’ll let you be an animal activist as long as you’re not too darn active, is what the residents of Gipf-Oberfrick are saying to her. It’s OK if you have views as long as you play nice, keep them to yourself, don’t be loud, absolutely don’t go public, don’t shove them down our throats, and above all don’t be annoying.

And what these good burghers think of her actually does matter, not just because the power of peer pressure is in inverse proportion to the size of a town’s population, but much more specifically, because under Swiss law they all have the right to sign off – or not – on her application for Swiss citizenship. The town’s spokesperson, Urs Treier, says they keep rejecting Holten’s application not because of her opinions but because she makes such a public display of the things she objects to.

Nancy is described as “not the quiet kind”. The local branch president of the Swiss People’s Party, Tanja Suter, says Holten has “a big mouth” and doesn’t deserve the “gift” of Swiss citizenship. Jeez!

This unstoppable lady has publicly voiced her opinions about piglet racing, hunting, animals in the circus, and horse breeding. But the one that really gets up the townsfolk’s collective nose, is her rant against their cows having cowbells slung around their necks. Is that so terrible? Yes, when you see the size of the bells, as in the pic below. They weigh in at 5kg apiece and rub and burn the cows’ skin. Plus the sound of the ringing must be deafening to the cows at 100 decibels. That is loud.

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The good people of Gipf-Oberfrick’s though view her campaigning as an attack on treasured Swiss tradition:

“The importance of the cow bell is highlighted in Swiss folklore, which reflects a period when a great Trychel, or large cow bell, was a rare and much-coveted item. The legend of the Simmental tells how a young cowherd strays inside a mountain, and is offered by a beautiful woman the choice between a treasure of gold coins, a golden Trychel, or the fairy herself. He chooses the Trychel.”²

But tradition can never be a justification for inflicting harm. In 2016, 200 million women in 30 countries suffered FGM³ because it is ‘traditional’ in their communities. That doesn’t stop it being wrong.

Let’s face it, the crowd, the majority of folk who prefer to do what’s expected and think what they are told to think, will always lash out at someone swimming against the current and threatening to rock their comfortable boat. These ‘loud’ activists are speaking the truth no-one wants to hear like the Old Testament prophets, who were invariably persecuted for their pains.

Speaking out the truth is never without cost to yourself. If you stick your head up above the parapet, nothing is more certain than that you will get it shot off.  What immense courage it takes to stand up and be loud, especially for a woman. But loud vegans’ courage is fuelled by compassion for the suffering, outrage at the injustices humans are inflicting on animals everywhere, and burning passion to see equality, liberation and justice prevail.

Here’s to all loud vegan women. I salute you. Heroes, everyone.


As for Nancy Holten, she knows full well what is at stake, having had her citizenship application turned down twice already. Yet still she refuses to shut up, refuses to stop being “annoying”, refuses to stop ruffling feathers in her little Swiss town. Because the fate of the animals is so very much more important than a few ruffled feathers – more important even than the coveted Swiss citizenship. I hope she finally does get what she wants. Switzerland should be proud to claim as one of its own an amazing person like Nancy who refuses to sacrifice her principles for her own expediency.

Give that loud annoying vegan woman a medal. We need more of her kind.

“Never be bullied into silence.”

… Harvey Fierstein


Postscript
We can’t all be Nancys. I know I’m not. If you are struggling with simply maintaining a veg*n lifestyle, you are not alone. 63% of new vegans polled said they couldn’t hack sticking out from the crowd.
If you are depressed at all the horrors you see, or burned-out from all your activism, you are not alone.
Don’t give up. Awesome help and support is available here. For the sake of the animals, and for your own, please check it out.

 

¹Technical & Further Education

 ²Wiki

³Female genital mutilation

Source: Town Says Animal Activist Can’t Be Swiss Citizen Because She’s ‘Annoying’ | Care2 Causes

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Inauguration Day Special – Animal TrumpAlikes & More

It’s a must-see. Has a life of its own!

Plus, in the pic below, discovered by biologist Vazrick Nazari the very first species to be named after the new president. How do you reckon the little moth’s coiffeur shapes up?

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“The new species is named in honor of Donald J. Trump,” Nazari wrote in a review of the species. “The specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales of the moth to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle.”

But jokes aside
Nazari continues:“The reason for this choice of name is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species.”¹
From this day forward, environmental protections, animal welfare regulations, and the Endangered Species Act² are all under threat. Indeed the newly elected GOP majorities on Capitol Hill didn’t even wait for Inauguration Day to begin the dismantling process.
Time for all activists to take our cue from the incredible community at Standing Rock and come together in solidarity for the majestic lands and wildlife of America – and indeed of the world, for the new president’s environmental reach will extend far beyond the United States.

“Trump is a businessman, and that’s all he thinks about … what will make money”

On some of these crucial issues the new president may find himself out of step with his people, even those who shoehorned him into the White House. The results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll for instance, published on Tuesday indicate that 60% of Americans would like to see the Environmental Protection Agency’s powers preserved or strengthened, and the drilling of oil on public lands to hold steady or drop.

“Trump is a businessman, and that’s all he thinks about … what will make money,” said Terry Cox, a 61-year-old resident of Tennessee who voted for the New York real estate mogul in November’s election. “But I’m hopeful there’s a limit to what he can do when it comes to weakening protections for wildlife and the environment.”  Reuters

If you want to know exactly what we’re up against, check this out.

The minute the man was declared winner of the 2016 presidential election, ecowarriors and animalistas, not to mention anti-racists, anti-sexists and human rights activists, set to work devising strategies to thwart his bigoted and planet-unfriendly intentions.

Rebecca Leber for one, wasted no time. On November 22  she published  5 Ways to save the environment in the age of Donald Trump. Her recommendations include “Apply public pressure”, Win the States”, and “Sue the bastards”.

If you want to wo/man the barricades, as I hope you do, against the demolition of all the hard-won environmental,  farmed animal and wildlife successes activists have spent decades giving everything they’ve got to achieve, join forces with the Sierra Club and/or the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center is not going to be caught on the back foot. It’s all ready with a defiant and ambitious 23-point plan for the first 100 days of the new presidency.

You can help straightaway by signing the Center’s Pledge of Resistance to Donald Trump’s Assault on America’s Environment, Democracy and Civil Rights.

And if you are a US citizen make a quick phone call to your senator’s state office to express your opposition to the appointment of climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. That would be funny if it weren’t so horribly worrying. Pruitt was, in his campaign for the post of Oklahoma’s Attorney General, sponsored by the fossil fuel industry . Details for the phone call here.

Also welcoming your support, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, or any of the other many campaigning groups that are on the right side of history.

“No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” Edmund Burke

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the new President of the USA could take 63 seconds out of his busy schedule to inform himself of the great legacy for the environment and wildlife ex-President Obama has left behind from his years in office?

But sadly, there’s no doubt it would just provide Mr Trump with an aide-memoire of the stuff he’s already pledged to undo.

Video courtesy of NRDC.

EarthJustice thanks Mr Obama here.

We will miss you Barack.

¹ ZME Science

² GOP ready to scrap Endangered Species Protections – Care2

Why a President Trump Could Be a Threat to Animals Everywhere – Huffington Post

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New Year New Start

Reminding us of just about everything that really matters in life:

No better way to kick start 2017

Kind to yourself

Kind to others – human and nonhuman

Kind to the planet

Try vegan this Veganuary

What Trump’s Triumph Means for Wildlife – Take Part

We are going to have to work harder than ever for  wildlife and wild places. And for farmed animals. The day after the presidential election my Inbox was bombarded with emails from animal and conservation charities throwing up their hands in horror at the result. Understandably. This authoritative post says it all  – Animalista Untamed

by Richard Conniff for Take Part

Get ready for more drilling, mining, and logging on public lands and an agenda that values preserving wildlife—for hunters.

For people who worry about the nation’s (and the world’s) rapidly dwindling wildlife, the only vaguely good news about Donald Trump’s election might just be that he doesn’t care. This is a guy whose ideas about nature stop at “water hazard” and “sand trap.” Look up his public statements about animals and wildlife on votesmart.com, and the answer that bounces back is “no matching public statements found.” It’s not one of those things he has promised to ban, deport, dismantle, or just plain “schlong.”

More good news (and you may sense that I am stretching here): Trump is not likely to appoint a renegade rancher and grazing-fee deadbeat Cliven Bundy to head the Bureau of Land Management. When Field and Stream magazine asked Trump early this year if he endorsed the Western movement to transfer federal lands to state control (a plank in the Republican platform) he replied: “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold.”

This was no doubt the real estate developer in him talking, but his gut instinct against letting go of land will surely outweigh the party platform. “We have to be great stewards of this land,” Trump added. “This is magnificent land.” Asked if he would continue the long downward trend in budgets for managing public lands, Trump said he’d heard from friends and family that public lands “are not maintained the way they were by any stretch of the imagination. And we’re going to get that changed; we’re going to reverse that.”

This was apparently enough, in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s upset election, for Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife, to suggest that “we share common interests in the protection of America’s wildlife and our great systems of public lands, which provide endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, wildlife observation, and other pursuits that all Americans value.”

Meanwhile, pretty much all others active on wildlife issues were looking as if the floor had just dropped out from under them, plunging them into a pool of frenzied, ravenous Republicans. At the website for the Humane Society, where a pre-election posting warned that a Trump presidency would pose “an immense and critical threat to animals,” an apologetic notice said, “The action alert you are attempting to access is no longer active.”

They have reason to be nervous. Trump has surrounded hinself with political professionals who do not think sweet thoughts about wildlife. Newt Gingrich, for instance, loves animals-but mainly in zoos rather than in inconvenient places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Reince Priebus, a likely choice for Chief of Staff, was part of a Tea Party revolution in Wisconsin that put Gov. Scott Walker in power. Just to give you a  sense of what that could mean for a Trump administration, Scott handed over control of state parks and other lands to the hook-and-bullet set while shutting out biologists and conservationists. Chris Christie? Rudi Giuliani? Let’s just not talk about them.

Trump’s main advisers on wildlife appear to be his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and they seem to care only about hunting and fishing. Donald Jr. has publicly expressed a wish to run the Department of the Interior, though his only known qualification for the job is his family name. More likely, as he told Outdoor Life during the campaign, he will help vet the nominees for Interior, “and I will be there to make sure the people who run the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and so on know how much sportsmen do for wildlife and conservation and that, for the sake of us all, they value the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”

wolves-64093_960_720You may be stumbling over that Christ-like phrase “for the sake of us all.” But you should really be worrying about the “North American Model.” It’s a code phrase for managing public lands primarily for hunting and fishing and only secondarily, if at all, for nongame species—or for hiking, bird-watching, camping, or other uses. In practice it can mean eradicating wolves because hunters consider them competition for elk or moose. (Donald Jr.: “We need to reduce wolves and rebuild those herds.”) It can mean cutting back funding for songbird habitat and spending it instead on fish stocking.

Like his father, Donald Jr. has opposed selling public lands, mostly because it “may cost sportsmen and women access to the lands.” But he believes states should help govern federal lands, calling shared governance “especially critical when we pursue our idea of energy independence in America. As has been proven in several of our Western States, energy exploration can be done without adverse affects [sic] on wildlife, fisheries or grazing.” (America has come tantalizingly close to energy independence under President Obama—without moving new drilling rigs onto public lands—and there is no evidence for the broad-brush notion that energy exploration is harmless to wildlife.)

Two other major considerations to keep in mind: If Trump goes ahead with his favorite plan to build a wall on the Mexican border, it would cut off vital migratory routes and habitat for jaguars, ocelots, desert bighorn sheep, black bears, and many other species. (It might also impede the flow of fed-up Mexicans heading south.)

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Likewise, trashing the Paris Agreement on climate change, as Trump has promised to do, would gain the United States nothing and risk committing the planet irrevocably to warmer temperatures, extreme weather events, and massively destructive coastal flooding. That doesn’t make sense even from a business perspective, and much less so for wildlife. The first documented extinction of a species by human-caused climate change occurred this year, when the Bramble Cay melomys succumbed to rising sea levels in its South Pacific island home. Thousands of other species also face disruption of their habitat and the likelihood of imminent extinction.

The bottom line is that a Trump administration is likely to be good for mining, drilling, logging, and the hook-and-bullet set. But for wildlife and for Americans at large? We are facing four dangerous years of self-serving gut instinct and reckless indifference to science, with the damage to be measured, as climate activist Bill McKibben put it the other day, “in geologic time.”

If you are feeling as if a Trump victory is the end of the world as we know it, you may just be right.

Nov 11, 2016
Richard Conniff is the author of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth and other books.

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One Lovely Blog Award

A million thanks to the Switch Sisters who together make up owl machine, for nominating Animalista Untamed for the One Lovely Blog Award. And especially for their kind and very generous words about my posts and this blog.

Do go take a look at owl machine. Their specialty is Disney movies, fantasy and kids’ lit, with a little Animal Rights thrown in for good measure. The style is so quirkily entertaining that I find their posts a joy, even when I haven’t seen the movie or read the book myself!

So, as the rules of the Award dictate, I have to say –

Seven Things to Know About Me

1 I’m an islander. I come from the little island of Guernsey in the Channel Isles, a beautiful place to grow up. But I left my island long ago, and I get homesick a lot.

2 I’m a frustrated activist. Would love to be out there with the badger patrols and the Earthlings Experiences, but personal circumstances don’t allow. So I write, share and tweet instead. It is my job.

3 My idea of heaven would be caring for animals in my own animal sanctuary.

4 No, strike that out. My idea of heaven would be a world with no slaughterhouses, no zoos, no trophy hunting, no blood sports, no poaching, no horse- or greyhound racing, no culling of innocent creatures, no fur farms. A world where everyone is vegan, and wildlife habitat is strictly protected. A world where ALL animals – grudgingly even humans – have equal rights.

5 For the last six weeks I’ve been grieving the loss of my beloved rescue girl Holly, who came to me from Manchester Lost Dogs’ Centre 15 years 4 months ago at the age of 7 months. For those whole 15+ years she and I were together every waking second of the day. She even came to work with me. There is nowhere I have been where she wasn’t by my side. I never knew my heart could hurt so much. I love you Hols, and always will – till we’re together again.

6 I’m a grandma. That’s a pretty amazing thing to be. The sweetness of seeing through a small child’s eyes, when they only know the world as kind and good, and every little thing is a cause for wonder.

7 My favourite historic figure is St Francis of Assisi – who else?

Nominations

DirtNKids This is Shannon’s latest and gorgeous post about Autumn. If you love nature, the simple things in life, gardening, nice natural photos and yes, dirt and kids, you will love this blog.

Violet’s Veg*n e-Comics  A fabulous colourful blog of books, comics and poems for kids – and bigger kids like me! I’ve been loving the serialised adventures of intrepid animal-protector Luke Walker. This is a must-visit blog.

Rantings from a Virtual Soapbox Human and animal rights, environmental issues, painstakingly researched and reliable, usually with links for action we can take. Really making a difference.

In the Shadow of the Wolf Another wonderfully researched and reliable blog doing fantastic work for that beautiful but much persecuted creature, the wolf. Join the Tweetstorm for Norway’s wolves now!

And finally –

Here are the rules for accepting your One Lovely Blog Award nomination:

  1. Write a blog post accepting your nomination.
  2. Show the blogger who nominated you how much you love them by thanking them in the post and linking to their blog.
  3. Tell us seven things about yourself.
  4. Nominate other blogs that you think are totally rad.
  5. Let the bloggers you’ve nominated know they’ve received an award.
  6. Post the rules again to let those bloggers know how it works.

 

 

 

Saving Wildlife on the World Wide Web

From the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s CEO, Azzedine Downes

‘The Internet just became a lot friendlier to wildlife, and a lot less friendly to wildlife criminals”

Yesterday we celebrated World Elephant Day with the good news that seven major online tech companies, including eBay, Etsy, Gumtree, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tencent and Yahoo! have united to adopt a new policy framework that will help protect animals from illegal online trade.

This announcement comes at a crucial time for wildlife. Take a moment to digest these shocking figures:

  • Approximately 100,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010-2012
  • Rhino poaching increased by 9300% in South Africa from 2007-2014
  • Tiger populations have plummeted by 97% in the last century, leaving only approximately 3,900 left in the wild
  • And more than 1 million pangolins have been poached from the wild in the last decade alone

Many of the parts and products from those animals ended up for sale on popular online sites. The new framework will prohibit trade of a wide variety of imperiled wildlife and their parts, making it much easier for customers to know what is and isn’t allowed on these online platforms.

And whilst previously criminals could “shop around” for sites with the most relaxed policies, this latest agreement is a big step toward an industry-wide standard that eliminates the loopholes that that have made it easier for criminals to traffic wildlife online.

With this new policy, these companies put aside their commercial interests to work together to protect wildlife.

We were thrilled to partner with WWF and TRAFFIC on this important project. We’ll continue to work together to monitor progress and make sure that these policy changes accomplish what they’re intended to, but it is incredibly encouraging to see this latest development.

P.S. We have worked for years to make the e-commerce sector a cruelty-free environment, and this announcement is an important step towards that goal.

Read more

Sadly, Yahoo Japan has not joined the other online tech companies in adopting the new policy framework. Sign petition here to ask them to do so now.

trophy_hunting_us_head_0 Please sign Stop the importation of hunting trophies into the UK

 

 

LeopardCat_CWRCRun the 2017 London Marathon for IFAW

 

 

More ways to help

Update

August 21st 2016 Namibia and Zimbabwe have filed petitions to CITES to lift the international ban on the sale of ivory – Focusing on Wildlife

Related posts

Nations of the World Step up for Elephants & Rhinos

Man, Money & Rhinos – Unravelling the Tangled Knot of Poaching

 

 

 

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The Art of Compassion for the Animals

Cover picture by Hartmut Kiewert

Dedicated to all you beautiful vegans and animal advocates, wherever you may be. If the animals ran their own Olympics, your places on the podium would be assured. Vegans rock!

animals wildlife badger lemur elephants big cat love compassion happiness health hope
Gemma Crombleholme

Today’s spotlight, lovely people, falls on one of the many vegan projects that deserve gold medals.

It’s the Art of Compassion Project, brainchild of Leigh Sanders, lover of art and animals. South African by birth, artist Leigh lives in Catalonia with her husband where she’s been for the last fourteen years. When she went vegan two years ago, she was so impressed with the support she got from Veganuary, she decided to raise funds for them by creating an art book.

Searching on the net for fellow vegan artists, the response she got from all over the globe was “incredibly overwhelming”, and Leigh soon realised there was potential for something more permanent and ongoing – “to promote equality and compassion for all animals”  – the project’s mission.

“To begin with, I wanted to build a strong international network of vegan artists that all share the same vision–to use their art to spread the vegan message. I also wanted to effectively use the art as a means of touching people’s hearts and opening their mind to living life the vegan way,” she says. “Sometimes we can be surprised just how much a painting, poem or piece of music can affect us. Art speaks to the soul even when the mind doesn’t quite grasp what’s being said.”

Hunting deer fox animals hunter gun protecting hiding
Katharina Rot

As we speak, 75 vegan artists from 18 countries representing every continent (except Antarctica!) are involved with Leigh’s project. There are some familiar names on the list, for instance the brilliant Chantal Poulin Durocher, and you may be able to spot one of gifted Andrew Tilsley’s paintings hanging in the website gallery.

v4_2_origLeigh’s noticed how being involved with the Art of Compassion has had an impact on the artists themselves:

“I have seen how these artists have started feeling more determined and motivated to use their art as a form of activism. This emotion, commitment and enthusiasm is tangible in their work,” she says.

The latest project is a fabulous set of dining out cards, which are on sale now. All proceeds are going to Viva, the charity the Art of Compassion is sponsoring for 2016. On the back of each is the message, “Thank you for offering vegan options”.  And on the other side, these little gems of art. How better to promote veganism (and show we vegans really are nice people!) than with a smile and a thank you?

Another recipient of funds raised by the project is dear to my own heart – Hillside Animal Sanctuary doing incredible work rescuing animals from death and restoring them to health and happiness .

More examples from the Art of Compassion’s website gallery

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on way to slaughterhouse cows man fear terror death blood
Raj Singh Tattal
Farmed animals bleeding blood slaughter death fear
Philip McCulloch-Downes

How can we get involved?

Leigh is always on the lookout for any vegan involved in the arts; visual, music, writers, jewellery designers, fashion designers, photographers, poets, etc. to join the project.

Volunteers with a passion for veganism are also most welcome to get in touch with Leigh via email : leigh@artofcompassionproject.com

“We would really appreciate your support! There are a couple of things you could do; follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tell your friends about us. You can still buy our 2016 calendar (and get 25 percent off). Join us as a ‘member’–either as an artist or volunteer, there’s more info about that on our website. Finally, support our current projects and keep up to date with events.”

Art of Compassion Project animals charitiesThis is the Art of Compassion Project’s logo designed by Argentinian artist Francisco Atencio and symbolising their mission: To promote equality and compassion for all animals.

Facebook: Art of Compassion project
Twitter: @aocproject
Website: artofcompassion.com

Related posts

Anger & Beauty – Inspiration for Artist Andrew Tilsley

 A Picture of Compassion – Chantal Poulin Durocher

Jo Frederiks – Artist for the Animals

Ama’s Story

 

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