Snow Leopard Trust

My local zoo is finally expanding the area for their snow leopards; their previous enclosure always broke my heart a bit.  Snow leopards, like elephants, are struggling in the wild with climate change, poaching, and human/animal conflicts.  There are only between 4000-6000 wild snow leopards in the world today.

The Snow Leopard Trust has been instrumental in saving the snow leopard.  One of their projects includes providing livestock insurance – herders who wish to receive compensation for lost livestock must protect snow leopards.  Another provides income to women by purchasing their handicrafts and selling them through the Trust all over the world.  They also create eco-camps and nature clubs for children to  learn about conservation, and run adult educational seminars on a regular basis.

 

 

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USA pulls out of climate agreement

Selfish and ignorant.  Those were my first thoughts when I found out the USA has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.

The agreement was not perfect, but what on a such a massive scale could ever be deemed perfect?  It was inspiring to see the world come together with goals to help our planet.  195 countries, to be exact.

We all share this planet, after all.  We all breathe this air, and we all drink this water.  We all seek shelter from storms.

Supporters of the President will say the agreement was economically unfair to the USA and now the USA can be free to pursue it’s own goals.

But now, we join Syria and Nicaragua as the countries who are the outsiders on this issue.

We have willingly turned our back on diplomacy.

If worst comes to worst, we may have turned our back on the basic health and security of our children and grandchildren.

If worst comes to worst, this will be the defining moment when we have decided to condemn the entire world to higher temperatures, bigger droughts, rising seas, severe storms, migration, conflict, disease and starvation.

The USA is currently the #2 polluter in the world.  If our industries become unregulated, our levels of pollution likely rise in the name of short term profit while creating great long term harm.

Even if the US impact is small, it can push the most vulnerable countries underwater – such as the Maldives (population 325,000), Seychelles (87,000), Kiribati (102,000), and the Solomon Islands (585,000).

We must hope that despite not being part of the agreement, our industries will continue to invest in new technologies and try to find cleaner and safer ways to create energy.

We must speak out and support those who do what is good and right for the environment and criticize and hold accountable those that do not.

We must support science.

We must support one another.  This is our planet.  We share it with billions of humans, animals, and plants.

So here we are.  What we do matters.  How we vote matters.

Walk with grace, leave small footprints, but keep your eyes open and use your voice.

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(Photo taken at local March for Science)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Vulnerable Forum

Today the BBC wrote about a meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.  In it, the group strongly defended the Paris Climate Agreement.   The group of 48 countries is especially concerned because the United States has threatened to pull out of the agreement.

Not surprisingly, many of the most vulnerable countries are also home to elephants – countries like Cambodia, Kenya, and the DRC.  As I’ve written in a few posts, one of the main reasons elephants are endangered is climate change.  Many elephants have died from severe drought and others have moved into human populated areas searching for food (thus increasing human-elephant conflict).  Climate change has increased the number of those turning to poaching to make a living, after family farms have faced extreme hardships.   Climate change has also created human conflict over resources, leading to war and famine.  In such dire circumstances, obviously the fate of elephants and conservation do not receive much consideration.

The Paris agreement had modest goals, and as the Climate Vulnerable Forum said the fate of one billion plus people depends on international cooperation.  One piece of good news from the forum is that some countries are trying to go above and beyond the goals to reduce emissions.

From BBC:

At the last major conference of negotiators in Marrakech last November, members of the CVF committed themselves to moving towards 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.
“Costa Rica produces 100% renewable energy most of the year,” said William Calvo, the country’s adjunct chief negotiator.
“But we won’t stop there: we are tackling now the transport sector and hope to even export renewable power more widely in the region.”
The idea that other countries are capable of picking up the slack if the Americans pull out of Paris gained support this week with the release of an analysis showing that India and China are likely to overshoot existing targets to cut carbon.

 

 

Six months

Well, it’s already been six months since I began the blog, and I must admit I’m surprised that I’ve been able to post nearly every day.  I started thinking I would have a month or so worth of posts about elephants, and then have to change course.

But, I have found the topic to be rather inexhaustible.  In addition, learning about elephants have made me naturally connect to other topics like conservation, environmental policy, animal rights, and human rights.

If there is one thing I have learned these past six months, it is that we are all connected.

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(Photo taken at Elephant Nature Park)

One of my first posts was about why we should care about saving elephants.  When there are so many issues that need our attention, why devote so much time and resources to an endangered species?

In 2015, BBC Earth did a report on the same topic.  They found that although saving any species does require a huge investment, the economic and social benefit long term far exceeeds it.  (In one example, they looked at how the tourist industry depends heavily on environmental beauty and biodiversity.  In another example, they mentioned that medical advances found in nature can provide huge benefits to humankind).

But, after their long report, their conclusion at the end was the same and as simple as mine is now.

Why should we care?  We should care because we are all connected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killer whale with high levels of PCBs

Lulu the killer whale died last year, caught in fishing rope.  Results have now been published about tests on her carcass.  Lulu had incredibly high levels of PCBs in her body, one hundred times accepted levels.  This likely made her infertile, and PCB also makes killer whales prone to poor immunity and cancer.

The killer whale population has been declining and PCB is likely a big reason why.

PCBs were banned in the US in 1979, but for over fifty years the chemical was used in refrigerators, electrical insulators, and sprayed on roads.  Of course, chemicals entered the water system and did not simply disappear.

A killer whale, near the top of the food chain, would have high levels of PCB since each level of the food chain would have consumed the chemical.

If this story makes you wonder what’s lurking in your seafood meal, you are not overly paranoid.  Fish and other seafood often have dangerous chemicals that we ingest.  Therefore, it is wise to limit seafood consumption and check environmental standards of your seafood through sites like Seafood Watch by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

 

 

Northern Rangelands Trust: saving wildlife, improving communities

The Northern Rangelands Trust believes that conservation is not only good from an environmental standpoint, but an economic one as well.  That is why they have worked in Northern Kenya with help from USAID to invest in saving elephants and increasing eco-tourism.  NRT was founded in 2004, and has done amazing work.  There has been a significant decline in poaching in areas where they operate.  CITES estimated in 2014 that 60% of killed African elephants were killed illegally – but that number was 46% in Northern Kenya and was continuing to trend downwards.

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From Forbes Magazine:

In 2015, tourism revenues to NRT conservancies from entry and bed-night fees totaled over US$ 410,000 – a really significant income for these remote and marginalized communities, derived from their wildlife. Two safari lodges – Sarara and Il Ngwesi – are actually owned by the community, who contract operators to manage them. Wildlife tourism revenues are split 40/60 – with 40% going toward annual conservancy operating costs (like ranger salaries and vehicle fuel) and 60% going toward development projects deemed a priority by the constituent community at their Annual General Meetings. Most commonly the communities decide to spend these funds on educational bursaries for the poorest family, health care support, and water supplies to reduce the burden on women from collecting water from afar.

Wands for Wildlife

I was at the zoo today, and they are always happy to accept used and cleaned blankets for the animals.  I went online to see what other animal organizations ask for things we may be “spring cleaning” and found a very cute video of ducks getting brushed by old mascara wands to remove dirt, larvae, and insects from fur and feathers.

Wands for Wildlife  recycles old mascara wands to clean small animals.  Send them their requested written form and old (cleaned) mascara wands.  The address is: Appalachain Wild, P.O. Box 1211, Skyland, NC 28776.

Video: YouTube, Appalachain Wild

From their website:

“Appalachian Wildlife Refuge was incorporated on October 23, 2014. The ALL VOLUNTEER organization was formed by a group of licensed rehabilitators, nonprofit professionals, environmental educators, and other concerned citizens, in response to the increasing numbers of wildlife requiring assistance and the need for more people trained and funded to help them in Western North Carolina.”

They have helped over 1700 animals.