Monday, October 31, 2011

Animal of the Week: Albatross

Albatrosses are a group of large sea birds found around the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic, although fossil remains show they once occurred there too. Of all the flying birds they are some of the largest with the species the Great Albatross having the widest wingspan of any living bird exceeding 340 cm (11.2 ft). All albatrosses have the great flying ability, using dynamic soaring and slope soaring to fly great distances with little exertion. They can stay in the air for hours on end without resting or even having to flap their wings.

Albatrosses are carnivores with a diet consisting mainly of fish, krill and squid. They obtain this via scavenging, surface fishing or diving. They do not migrate each year in search of food but rather radio tracking has revealed they will disperse over large areas in search of food. When it comes to water they simply live of sea water. They get rid of the salt which drips from its ‘tube-nose’, which makes it look like the bird is crying.

When it comes to breeding they will form large colonies on coastal areas. They prefer very remote islands with little human interruption and will quite happily nest amongst other species of albatross. A male-female pair will form a bond that will last for several years to life after a male has attracted her with a ritualised mating dance. The breeding process is a lengthy one as it can take a year from egg laying to fledgling. Considering they only lay one egg per breeding cycle, this is a huge investment. Depending on the species the chick will be in the air within 3-10 months.

Of the 21 species recognised by the IUCN, 19 are considered Threatened. Factors affecting their survival include feral animals such as rats and cats and over fishing declining their food stocks. However a horrific threat is caused by long line fishing. The birds are attracted by the smell of the bait but then become hooked in the lines and drown. An estimated 100,000 birds are killed this way each year. Unregulated pirate fisheries exacerbate the problem.

Organisations such as BirdLife International ( and  are working so that relevant international agreements are implemented that will benefit both the birds and the legal fishing industry. They also work locally with fisherman to improve practices. To find out how you can help save the albatross visit

Since albatrosses depend on the wind to fly and sailors depend on the wind to sail, the albatross became a good omen to sailors. The albatross features in a poem about what happened to a sailor when he killed an albatross. The poem is called 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'.

Albatross Medicine
The albatross signifies long periods of time. The breeding and chick rearing process is a lengthy period plus these birds are renowned for their ability to soar for long periods of time. People who have been drawn to the albatross may be seen as dreamers or unfocused, drifting from one focus to the next without a strong commitment. However as they albatross patiently awaits for the right opportunity, they teach us to do the same. Be open and aware of signs and when they come you must act. Once you have found what you need, it can sustain you for a long time, even the rest of your life.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween is all about pumpkins

It's Halloween and pumpkins are decorating houses as they glow in windows or fill door steps and stoops. Pumpkins are just loved by humans. Here is some of the animals at the New York Zoos doing their version of pumpkin carving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Coca Cola to change cans from red to white

In the coming weeks Coca Cola will be changing it's iconic red cans to white. Coke is producing 1.4 billion white cans to raise awareness for the plight of polar bears. The soft drink company will also be donating $2million over the next five years to help the WWF in their work. They will also match all donation made at and advertise a SMS system where consumers can donate.

For more information check out the following blog:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WCS release camera trap images of Arctic animals

The WCS has released a set of images (below) caught by WCS scientist currently studying in Alaska. The images are from an area near the Ikpikpuk River in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A). Studies are currently be completed to see whether human-subsidized predators (Artic fox, raven and glaucous gulls) are having a greater impact on migratory birds nesting in the area. Before human presence in the area the landscape was very sparse but human construction has allowed animals such as the Arctic fox to den near buildings and ravens and their young, which are usually rare in the area to use the buildings for protection and nesting. With an increase rate of survival they are possibly able to raid more nests than in previous years.

For more information, check out the website

The Astrological Signs of Cities and Countries

Most people know their star sign, and possibly those of a few friends. Some people even know their pets' star sign (my kittens are a Capricorn and an Aquarius....just saying). However do you know the star sign of your city, or your country? And does that affect how a place's personality or culture develops. Identifying a city's star sign has been practiced since ancient Greek times. It is based on the date the city or country officially established by rule of law or was "born". Sometimes this occurs by a proclamation of Statesmen and women and prominent business leaders; sometimes it is the result of a binding resolution voted on by the citizens. It may seem a little crazy but have a look at the list and if you have a basic knowledge of each star signs characteristics then it all starts to correspond.

Countries.-England, Germany, Poland, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Lithuania
Towns and Cities.-Leicester, Florence, Krakow, Naples, Utrecht, Marseilles, Birmingham (UK)

Countries.-Cyprus, Ireland, Switzerland, Capri, Rhodes, the Greek Islands
Towns and Cities.-Eastbourne, Hastings, Palermo, Lucerne, Leipzig, Dublin, St. Louis

Countries.-Belgium, Iceland, Sardinia, Morocco, Wales, Tunisia
Towns and Cities.- Cardiff, London, Nuremberg, Tripoli, San Francisco, Melbourne, Plymouth, Perth

Countries.-Holland, USA, Paraguay, Scotland, New Zealand
Towns and Cities.-Amsterdam, Manchester, Milan, New York, Stockholm, Tokyo, Venice, York

Countries.-France, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Sicily, Madagascar, Zanzibar
Towns and Cities.-Bath, Bristol, Bombay, Chicago, Madrid, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Rome

Countries.-Brazil, Greece, Switzerland, Turkey, Crete, Uruguay, West Indies
Towns and Cities.-Athens, Paris, Boston, Toulouse, Corinth, Lyons

Countries.-Argentina, Austria, Burma, Canada, China, Japan, Siberia, Tibet
Towns and Cities.-Antwerp, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Vienna, Nottingham

Countries.-Bavaria, Norway, Morocco, Queensland, Korea
Towns and Cities.-Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Liverpool, Newcastle, Washington DC, Queensland

Countries.-Australia, Chile, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain
Towns and Cities.-Budapest, Naples, Nottingham, Sheffield, Sunderland, Stuttgart, Toronto

Countries.-Bulgaria, Mexico, Albania, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Lithuania, India
Towns and Cities.-Brandenberg, Brussels, Oxford, Ghent, Delhi, Mexico City, Port Said

Countries.-Finland, Iran, Russia, Sweden, Syria, Ethiopia
Towns and Cities.-Bremen, Brighton, Hamburg, Helsinki, Moscow, Salzburg, St. Petersburg

Countries.-Egypt, Normandy, Portugal, Samoa
Towns and Cities.-Alexandria, Cowes, Grimsby, Jerusalem, Bournemouth, Seville, Warsaw

What's the advantage of knowing the star sign of a country or city? Just like you may be interested to know the sign of a friend or potential partner to get some clues on the personality, you can do the same for a city. You can determine whether your star sign is compatible with the city's sign and whether you will be happy travelling or living there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Javan Rhinoceros now extinct in Vietnam

Today is a sad and shameful day in history. The WWF and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) have today confirmed the extinction of the Javan rhinoceros in Vietnam. The last rhinoceros was found shot with it's horn removed. The focus now turns to the last remaining 40 wild Javan rhinos that live in a national park in Indonesia. To read the Press Release from WWF, click here.

Animal of the Week: Raccoon

The raccoon although considered a pest by some, is one of the most adaptable mammals in the Northern Hemisphere. Although it’s primary habitat is the forests of North America, it’s versatility has enabled them to successful live in urban areas. Raccoons boast extremely dexterous front paws plus a high level of intelligence. Studies have shown that raccoons can remember solutions from tasks from three years ago. Due to accidental escapes and deliberate introductions raccoons are now also found in Europe and Japan.

Racoons were originally believe to be solitary animals but evidence exists suggesting small groups of related females and separately, unrelated males will defend a territory from intruders. In captivity raccoons have lived to up to 20 years but in the wild the average life span is only two to three years. In the wild the coyote, fisher, bobcat, red fox, and great horned owl prey upon raccoons while in urban areas humans, especially cars are their biggest danger. Good news is that the racoon is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Endangered List.

Raspberries, black cherries, beechnuts, acorns, corn, apples, and fungi are some plant materials prominent in the diet of the omnivorous raccoon. Birds such as ducks and their eggs, turtles and their eggs, mice, voles, bats, cottontails, muskrats, ground and tree squirrels, fish, snakes, and frogs are examples of raccoon prey. Invertebrates (insects, earthworms, freshwater mussels, and especially crayfish) are a major dietary component, too. The raccoon eats both the flesh of dead animals (carrion) and garbage. It was once believed that raccoons wash all their food but this is a myth. They have been observed washing food in captivity but this is now believed to be behaviour to reenact finding food in aquatic environments.
Raccoon distribution - native and introduced

Raccoons are best known for the black eye masks resembling that of a bandit or villain. This has given them a reputation for mischief both in mythology and in today’s popular belief. There are different beliefs on how the mask assists raccoons in day to day life. Some believe that the contrast between this and lighter rings around the eyes help with communication via facial posturing and expression. Another belief is that the black reduces glare, thus increasing visual ability at night.

The most important sense for raccoons is touch. They have extremely sensitive pads on their paws with almost two-thirds of the area responsible for sensory perception in the raccoon's cerebral cortex is specialized for the interpretation of tactile impulses. This is more than in any other studied animal. When it comes to vision, raccoons are believed to be colour blind or at least have a poor ability in distinguishing colours. However they seem to be great at recognising green light.

If you are having problems with raccoons, here is a helpful website

Native American Folk Tale
Ever wonder how raccoon got his mask? The Seneca tribe tells the following story;
A long time ago, Raccoon had no mask. It was the coldest winter ever. Raccoon had to follow people around and steal food. One night, my people lit a fire to keep them warm. It was a cold night. The fire had gone out. Raccoon quietly crept up to the longhouse. Raccoon put his nose down to sniff out the food. His nose fell on the hot ashes of the fire, which had burned out only recently. It stung horribly, and Raccoon put his nose in the snow to cool it down. Now the ashes are stuck to Raccoons face forever. The moral of the story is not to steal from people, for there are consequences.

Raccoon Medicine
Much of raccoon medicine revolves around their famous mask. Raccoons are able to disguise themselves and sneak around subtly. Do you need to do the same? Raccoon medicine can teach you how to become dexterous in the masks you wear. The raccoon holds the knowledge of how to change our faces. Raccoon holds the knowledge of transformation through masks and disguise. This knowledge can be applied to religious and ritual practices or within normal everyday life. Do you need to present a different face to people for greater success? Are you hiding your true self? Are others hiding their true self? Raccoon can help you find the answers.

Raccoon also encourages us to use this skills to benefit those less fortunate than us. Raccoon is like the good Samaritan or Robin Hood. Ensure that you are using your versatile skills for the greater good.

If a raccoon has shown up, you may see its influence for an extended time. If you are trying to make changes or endeavoring to hide changes you are making from others until you are in a better position, plan on using about a 20-week cycle. You will find it more effective.

WWF is helping save the Sea Turtles of the Great Barrier Reef

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the world's largest reef system. If you live in Australia or ever travel there one thing you must do there is visit the Great Barrier Reef and go scuba diving. Even if you have never been scuba diving before there are companies that will train you on the way out and then take you down accompanied by an instructor.

One of the most remarkable experiences of my life was when scuba diving in this marine wonderland when suddenly a huge turtle, about the same size as me can swimming underneath me. Obviously I was moving to slow and he had to get past! This was a magical experience I wish everyone could experience, however these turtles are at risk. They are sick and starving to death.

Queensland's floods in January this year caused a large run off of chemicals such as pesticides, sediment and large amounts of fresh water into the ocean. This alters the marine environment and the sea grasses that the turtles feed off are dying off. Furthermore a deforming virus that causes large tumorous lesions is affecting the turtles. Add the usual pollution, injuries from boats and poor fishing practices in the area and turtles have one big battle ahead of them. Nearly 1,000 turtles have been stranded, with many dead, between January and mid-September this year. This is a dramatic increase considering 538 were found for the complete 12 months of 2010. Considering six of the seven species of sea turtles in the world are found on the Reef, being the Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Loggerhead,Flatback and Olive Ridley, this is a vital area to protect.

WWF Australia is currently working hard to help these battlers. Local turtle hospitals are struggling to keep up with the increased numbers of turtles needing help. In some cases sick or injured turtles are simply put back in the water as no one has the resources to help them. WWF is working to supply the hospitals with more medicine and equipment.

WWF is also assisting locals to help find a cure for fibropapilloma virus (FP) after the first few turtles have died from it in recent weeks. The current focus is fitting more turtles with radio transmitters to determine exactly what causes the virus and how it spreads.

In the long term WWF will work towards reducing the 14 million tonnes of mud, pesticides and chemical fertilisers that wash into the Great Barrier Reef every year, eliminate the damaging fishing techniques such as trawl, line and net fisheries, in which thousands of turtles are caught as bycatch as well as work with local traditional owners to protect and monitor the turtles.

In the last few days WWF has formed a partnership with James Cook University who has a reputation for a strong marine veterinary program. James Cook University will assist in caring for the increased number of sick turtles and play a role in the current sea turtle research. This is just one example of how WWF forms mutually beneficial relationships to fulfil their objectives. You can also assist the WWF with their work by donating. For more information on donating visit

Sea Turtle Fact: Sea turtles lay their eggs in sand. The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the young turtles. Cooler sand produces male turtles, while warmer sand produces females.

The Best Decorated House for Halloween

Beauty comes in different forms. Much of this blog looks at the beauty found in nature. However mankind also has the ability to create great beauty. Think of your favourite song, art piece, furniture item, etc. Here is another work of art....with Halloween in less than a week, one individual has taken decorating their house front to a whole new level!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Hunt for the Tiger Slayers video

The Wildlife Conservation Society has release a short video on the current status of the tiger poaching issue in Asia. This video gives an insight on poachers' techniques, how we are battling them and what the future holds. See how a mobile phone helps convict some alleged poachers.

What your Poop and Pee are telling you about your body

While shopping for a couple of items at a chemist in Toronto a book caught my eye called the "Beauty Detox Solution" by Kimberly Snyder. To book discusses not a quick-fix detox, but rather a way to change your way of eating. It makes sense chemically, biologically and environmentally. Kimberly tackles some popular beliefs, possibly created due to decades of effective marketing by food companies and the proof is in her results. Take a look at Kimberly, or her clients including drew Barrymore and Owen Wilson and you will see the vitality it gives you.

You can also subscribe to her newsletters from her site Below is an helpful chart she encourages people to share. So let's talk about poop and pee...

What is your poop and pee telling you
Source:What Your Poop and Pee Mean

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good News: Record number of jaguars found in Bolivia

The Wildlife Conservation Society has announced today the findings of a new digital camera capture survey. In one of the most biologically diverse landscapes of Madidi National Park , Bolivia 19 individual jaguars have been identified. Jaguars, similar to tigers all have individual markings so one cat can be recognised from another.

A series of cameras were set up along paths within the forest as well as along rivers and streams. These 19 individuals were identified from 975 photos taken by new camera technology that replaces film cameras with digital ones. The survey also revealed an abundance of spider monkeys, white-lipped peccaries and giant otters who were captured on camera as they passed an infra-red beam.

This information proves valuable in creating effective management plans for the species rich area which is also a key tourist attraction for Bolivia. Similar surveys are planned by the WCS in more remote, surrounding areas.

Connecting with animals via the chakras

The chakras are energy points identified within the human body originally recognised in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The word “chakra" comes from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning". Humans have seven major chakras located along the centre of the body from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. These subtle energy points regulate and represent our balance in different aspects of life. For an interesting test to see how balanced each chakra is click here. Chakras that are out of balance indicate an unbalanced life and there are varying techniques to obtain realignment. To find out more about balancing chakras, click here.

As humans have chakras, so do animals. They have the seven major chakras as humans which are located in similar positions. However it is also identified that they have an eighth chakra called the brachial chakra. This is located between the shoulders. This chakra governs the animal’s connection with humans. If an animal has a reluctance to be touched or is unwilling to “connect” these are signs that the chakra is unbalanced. Of course, if the animal is unwell due to medical reasons and refuses to interact or a wild animal isn’t willing to run up to you and be patted this is something other than an unbalanced brachial chakra.

If you are working with healing with animals or simply want to bond with a pet you can more visualise balancing this chakra. The colour associated with this chakra is black, or occasionally turquoise. Simply see a wheel of light spinning peacefully and growing in size in the area. When possible touch or hold your hand over the place in the body. Using black tourmaline, diamond, smoky quartz or clear quartz can strengthen the healing. 

Do humans have a similar chakra that assists with connection to animals? There doesn’t seem to be much evidence of the existence of one however there are two chakras that may be relevant. They are:
1) Ta Chui or Big Vertebra Centre in the Chinese system - is located just below the seventh cervical vertebra, where the neck joins the shoulders. This is associated with your ability to embrace others with warmth and love and when unbalanced causes stubbornness, denial and low self esteem.
2) Gai Pe is located between the fifth and sixth thoracic vertebrae, between the shoulder-blades and opposite the heart chakra. When balanced you have a feeling of freedom and a deep sense of the meaning of life and the universe and feel your will to be in harmony with the Divine Will. When unbalanced you will have hostile feelings towards the world.

Whether you tune in to an animal using one of these two chakras or the better know heart or throat chakra this technique can be an extra tool in your tool kit of working and connection with animals in your home or out in the natural world.

Animal of the Week: Cougar

The cougar, also known as the mountain lion, puma, mountain cat, catamount, mountain screamer, painter or panther, is the second largest cat in the Americas following the jaguar. It actually holds the Guinness record for the most amount of names. It has over 40 in English alone! This is probably due to it’s wide distribution. It has the widest range of all American land animals ranging from the northern Yukon in Canada to south in the Andes. Due to over hunting the cougar’s presence in the east coast of North America has been almost eliminated. However in recent years there have been sightings in Chicago, Connecticut and Quebec.

The cougar, although growing to a size of 65kgs (145lbs) is more closely related to the domestic cat than the Big Cats (lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards). It is the largest cat that can purr. Cougars have a great skill set which has ensured their survival throughout their range. They cat leap vertically over 5m (16ft), and horizontally more than 13.7m (45ft). That means they could jump over a school bus the long way. They are also the fastest animal in the Americans, capable of a top speed of 65kph (40mph). Cougars can also climb trees and swim.
The cougar's range
The cougar is a apex predator, helping maintain populations of other species in it’s habitat. In various regions, it must compete with other predators, such as the larger jaguar, brown bears, grey wolves and in Florida the American alligator. Yellowstone National Park completed a fascinating study of inter-predator relationships and found that brown or American black bears visited 24% of cougar kills in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, successfully seizing just 10% of carcasses. When it comes confrontations with the grey wolf, the outcome depends on numbers. A pack of grey wolves has been witnessed killing a cougar and her kittens, while a cougar can easily kill as solo grey wolf. In the southern portion of its range, the cougar and jaguar share overlapping territory. The jaguar tends to take larger prey and the cougar smaller where they overlap, reducing the cougar's size in these areas.

Cougars utilise the stalk-and-ambush method to hunt a variety of animals from insects to large ungulates (hoofed animal). Depending on their range cougars will catch animals such as big-horned sheep, elk, deer, elk, moose, armadillos, capybaras as well as livestock. Studies of cougar hunting suggest they will kill a large ungulate about every two weeks. This increases to about once every three days when a mother has cubs. The cougar will drag the catch to it’s favoured spot where it is hidden and revisited it over several days to eat.
One of the two cougars at Toronto Zoo

Fortunately the cougar is considered of Least Concern on the IUCN endangered list. It is listed as CITES I forbidding the export of live animals or parts. Cougars are protected in Canada and much of South American however regulated hunting is still permitted in the USA.

Cougar Medicine
Due to it’s power and grace the cougar appears in mythology and beliefs throughout the Americas. The sky and thunder god of the Inca, Viracocha, is associated with the cougar. In North America, to the Apache and Walapai of Arizona, the wail of the cougar was a harbinger of death. You can hear the call in the video below. Amongst the Anishinaabe the cougar or puma clan was responsible for healing and protection of the people.

The cougar or mountain lion holds similar metaphysical traits to that of it’s larger counterpart on the plains of Africa, the African Lion. The cougar stands for leadership. Cougar encourages you to take leadership of your life and the situations you are in. Do not allow someone else to dictate your destiny. Like a mother cougar, you may have developing kits looking up to you. If so, you must protect and guide them to also be great leaders.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Plan for your pets in case of bushfire

In Australia, the birds are starting to sing, flowers are emerging from their wintry sleep and baby animals hop, skip and jump through the fields....well at least the weather is getting warmer as we head into spring. Summer is just around the corner too. After living in North America for the last 14 months I am looking forward to coming back to an Australian summer. I've missed the BBQs, the beach and the 40+ degree days. However summer is not all sunshine and lollipops. With the heat comes the threat of bushfires in many parts if Australia. As the impact of draughts and global warming affect the sun burnt country more each year, we are urged to have a plan should bushfire strike.

PETA (, the world's largest animal rights organisation, reminds us to ensure our bushfire plans also include our pets. Here are their recommendations:

Companion Animals
• Know your destination ahead of time. Although human shelters often refuse animals, motels in the area will probably accept dogs, cats and other small animals in an emergency.
• Never leave animals unsupervised in a car. They can suffer from heatstroke, even if water is provided, and the windows are slightly open.
• Place small animals in secure carriers or keep them leashed, and ensure that they have ID tags attached to their collars in case frightening sounds and unfamiliar surroundings cause them to bolt.
• Take water and food bowls, your animals' favourite toys or blankets, a towel and enough food for at least a week.

Large Animals
• Identify or prepare a fuel-reduced, low-risk area to which they can be moved prior to the fire. Cattle are generally quite good at avoiding fire if they have room to move. In most cases, it is sufficient to move them onto a low-risk paddock if they are threatened by fire.
• If you plan on staying at the property, keep a sufficient amount of emergency feed to maintain your animals for about a week, and arrange possible off-site storage places if your place of residence is damaged and the animals have to be relocated.
• Move horses onto a paddock where they have room to move away from fires. Never deliberately let out any animals onto public roads. They run a very high risk of causing – and being injured in – traffic accidents.
• Watch out for other animals in need, including strays and animals who may have been left behind by neighbours. If you see an animal in distress and are unable to help, note the animal's condition and location, and call authorities for help as soon as possible.

Another tip I can offer for cat owners who allow their cats outside. Every time I feed my cats I ring a bell and they come running (it's good to know I kept something from my Psychology degree...Thanks Pavlov!). Many cats after being fed in the morning, may disappear to their favourite hiding place outside until the evening. If you need to call them at 2pm because a bushfire is threatening your property, the bell may help.

We've seen in past years the devastation bushfires can cause. However having a plan for your family and your animals will ensure that all your loved ones remain safe. Be prepared and enjoy the summer!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are my donations helping?

Often individuals wonder whether it is worth donation to an environmental organisation. Dr John DeMartini in his book titled "How to Make One Hell of a Profit and Still Get to Heaven" states donating can help to make you financially abundant. Check out from pages 29 onwards of his book by clicking here.

Organisations such as WWF rely on donations from people around the world to continue their work. If you work in the USA, some employers will match or triple your donations (more information here). To see just what work your donations are supporting, watch the video below. Should you feel inspired to donate, click here.

When I grow up I want to be an Anti-Poaching Ranger

Poaching threatens many of species of animals such as tigers, apes, rhinos and elephants in various countries throughout Africa and Asia. Animals are caught and killed for meat or for their body parts to be used for medicinal purposes which have no scientific support of being effective. In the battle against poaching many places have employed rangers to police these areas. Is there are more honourable job? These rangers are on the ground directly battling underground industries that have no regard for endangered animals survival.
Only days ago a ranger in Lobéké National Park, Cameroon was shot when he confronted a gang of poachers who had returned to collect gorillas they had shot with the intention of selling them as bushmeat. If the gorillas had been sold they would have collected a maximum of $200. Zomedel Pierre Achille was shot in the back and chest and leaves behind a wife and five children.

Poaching has been on the increase in Cameron as the penalties for trafficking A-class species such as chimpanzees, gorillas and elephants has been reduced recently. Poachers that are caught usually serve a term of only two to three months. The poachers are part of an organised crime group and utilise the knowledge of the local pygmy people who live sustainably in the forest but are bribed with whisky.

Lobéké National Park covers an area of 217,000 hectares and is currently patrolled by 22 rangers or "ecoguards". However the poachers are well armed with AK47s which can be obtained for about $100 or even a bag of cocoa. When Zomedel was shot, he and his partner Jean Fils Mamendji were up against about six men. Jean managed to escape with wounds to his arm.

Hostilities with poachers is not uncommon. On the 21st September, three rhino poachers were killed and another two arrested in a shoot off with park rangers. A 306 rifle fitted with a silencer, 18 rounds of ammunition, two knives and two bags were among the items recovered by the well prepared rangers. Had these poachers been successful they could have got around $10,000 a kilo for rhino horns.

In Asia the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is partnering with local governments to increase the amount of ecoguards on the ground. Last year they identified 42 locations where tiger protection is vital. About half these areas now have ecoguards covering regions through India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In Indonesia alone, at least 12 tigers have been saved over the past 12 months through the increased patrolling and intelligence gathering provided by these tiger guardians. This is substantial considering only about 500 tigers remain in Indonesia.

As time goes on poachers are becoming more skilled and knowledgeable and the demand for animal parts is not alleviating. Conservationists are working with governments and policy makers to increase penalties for poaching and tackling local's attitudes towards animal parts for medicines. Meanwhile it is imperative that we support these soldiers on the ground protecting the animals we value so much. They need to always have the best training and technology to ensure every animal under their protection is safe, and be able return home to their families at night. To find out how you can support anti-poaching measures, click here.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Can you imagine no Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park is the first national park in the world, created in 1872. The park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2) and is located mainly in the state of Wyoming but also extends into Montana and Idaho. It is home to some spectacular natural features such as the Old Faithful Geyser, has been home to Native Americans for 11,000 years and boasts an amazing collection of wildlife throughout. All these attract tourists from around the world every year.

One of the most spectacular animals found within Yellowstone is the grizzly bear. Unfortunately just 600 grizzly bears remaining in Greater Yellowstone and now the federal government is challenging the Greater Yellowstone Coalition's 2009 court victory that put the bears back on the Endangered Species list. Although numbers have increased in recent years, many believe that it is too early to relax the conservation of these magnificent animals. With continued pressure of further development there is a risk that grizzly habitat may become diminished.

Can you imagine travelling to Yellowstone and knowing that there are no grizzly's left. Click here to sign the petition requesting that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar keep grizzly bears on the Endangered List and thus ensuring they are still around for your next visit to the park!                                        

Animal Testing still happens today - but you don't have to support it

Unfortunately animal testing is still happening today. Bodies such as the EPA in the USA and regulatory agencies in the European Union require chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and many other products to be tested for toxicity before they go on sale to ensure no humans are affected. However many companies conduct tests on rabbits, chimpanzees, rats and cats, just to name a few. These animals are forced to eat, inhale, injected, wounded and mutilated and then dissected and killed with no consideration to their wellbeing or suffering.

In many cases there are alternatives that do not require animal testing and can more effective and less expensive. Regardless some companies continue to test animals. PETA is one organisation working towards a world where animal-testing is simply a shameful memory of the past. To read more about there efforts, click here.

You can support PETA when shopping and only purchase cruelty free products. For a database of companies that do and don't test on animals from PETA, click here. Furthermore to make life even easier for you, if you are standing at a store about to bu y a product and want to check if it's cruelty free, just grab your iPhone. Hot Frog has released an app called "Be Nice to Bunnies" that is updated with PETA's database. Click here to download the app.

Something New Zealand needs to give a sh*t about

Asia Pulp and Paper, also known as APP and based in Singapore, is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. They produce paper and paper products in Indonesia, China, and India. A visit to their website shows a green forest with sounds of wind blowing and birds singing with a slogan of "We support actions for economic, social and environmental sustainability". The soundtrack is quite soothing actually, I've been chilling out to it for about 45 minutes now. However looking through the rest of their site doesn't bring results as relaxing. Under the "Sustainability & CSR" section you find their sustainability reports. Interestingly the last one for Indonesia is from 2007  and they show none for China or India.

Recent Greenpeace investigations have shown APP to be involved in widespread rainforest clearance in Indonesia. Although APP deny these allegations, forensic testing of their products revealed the presence of mixed hardwood rainforest timber in some products. To see the full story of the investigation, please visit: It just so happens that APP owns a popular toilet paper brand called Cottonsoft sold at major New Zealand supermarkets including Progressives and Foodstuffs.

Greenpeace is now campaigning to have Cottonsoft taken off the shelves of the supermarket giants. Since the campaign started The Warehouse (similar to Wal-Mart in the USA) has suspended orders and Foodstuffs have ordered an independent audit of Cottonsoft's supply chain.

You can continue to help Greenpeace put pressure on the supermarkets by visiting this page:

Check out this video showing the impact of the Endangered Sumatran tigers of which less than 400 still live in these forests. Consider that even if a company is to replant trees later, the act of deforestation disrupts tigers and other wildlife's territories and general wellbeing.

Barbie goes green

Mattel, the toy giant and makers of the Barbie doll range have confirmed they will no longer purchase packaging for their toys. Investigations thanks to Greenpeace discovered that Mattel was using products from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) who are responsible for deforestation around Indonesia.

Greenpeace led a campaign involving forging a break-up between Ken and Barbie (Ken doesn't date girls who are into deforestation) involving banners and twitter feeds as well as over 500,000 email being sent to Mattel by Greenpeace supporters. Click here to see the story. In response Mattel has now released a global policy that will keep rainforest destruction out of its supply chains. Their policy also involves moving towards using more recycled paper in their packaging and to boost the use of wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

This is great news and proof that petitions, emails and letters do work. Donations to organisations such as Greenpeace also ensure these campaigns have the strength needed to make an impact.

Thank you Greenpeace and Mattel!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Help WWF get thier ad on the air

In an earlier blog I discussed the upcoming Clean Energy Future Bills (click here to view this blog entry). In the next two months politicians will be asked to vote on one of the most important environmental laws in Australia's history regarding the carbon price and complementary measures.

In the lead up to the vote there has been $10 million spent on an advertising blitz against the changes, much of it funded by Australia's biggest polluters who will be forced to pay this tax. Unfortunately WWF doesn't have the money of the big polluters, and we don't have the media coverage of the shock jocks, but we do have passionate and dedicated people like you, who can help make a difference by donating even as little as $10.

Below is the commercial they are currently running in cinemas but they are working to put the advert on television to battle to current advertisements being aired. This advert explains some of the facts about the new legislation while dispelling some of the myths.

How can you help? Firstly watch the commercial for yourself below if you are yet to see it, then share it via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

You can also find out more about WWF's campaign to get this commercial on television by clicking here. Donating will also aid get the message out. As little as $10 can help.

Animal of the Week: Dingo

The dingo, also known as a warrigal, is an Australian wild dog. It is believed to have been brought to Australia by humans migrating from South East Asia thousands of years ago. Genetically, it’s closest relative is the Asian gray wolf but due to living in an Australian habitat it has now evolved to be quite unique. Another argument to support that the dingo isn’t originally from Australia is that it is one of the few placental mammals in Australia. Most other mammals (think the kangaroo, wombat, and koala) are marsupials with a pouch that supports an underdeveloped young.

Although dingos may not have originally been in Australia, they now play a vital role in the ecosystem. They are apex predators, keeping control of populations of other species. There are 170 species (from insects to buffalo) that have been identified as being part of the dingo diet. In country-wide examinations, 80% of the diet consisted of ten species: Red Kangaroo, Swamp Wallaby, cattle, Dusky Rat, Magpie Goose, Common Brushtail Possum, Long-haired Rat, Agile Wallaby, European rabbit and the Common Wombat.

Dingoes often live in packs, usually with an alpha male and female plus their offspring of a couple of years. When hunting, they will use team work for larger animals. It has been observed when hunting large kangaroos that a lead dingo will chase the prey towards the waiting group where they can attack as a group. With smaller prey, a single dingo will catch it without assistance. Dingoes have become skilled at hunting livestock including sheep, cattle and sometimes goats. As with most prey, they will run it down and then bite it at the throat.

Because of the threat to livestock, they often come into conflict with humans. Shooting or baiting/poisoning by humans is the main threat to dingoes, which 2004 are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN conservation status. The laws vary around Australia but generally they are protected in national parks, World Heritage Sites and other conservation areas, but can be culled if they become a threat to other native species in these ares. Previously outside of these areas in the states of Victoria and Queensland, they are considered pests and land owners are encouraged to kill them. However in 2008, dingoes were officially declared a threatened species (in danger of extinction) in Victoria and are now protected. In the states of South Australia and Northern Territory, they can be killed if they are a threat to livestock. One group committed to dingo conservation can be found at

Some believe the extinction of the thylacine, Tasmanian devil and the Tasmanian Native-hen from mainland Australia is attributed to the dingo. It is argued that the dingo and thylacine were in competition for the same food sources and the thylacine lost out. It is believed that dingoes and Tasmanian devils both existed on mainland Australia until about 430 years ago. However these theories are hotly contested.

If you are wondering where the name dingo came from, it is believed to be from a misunderstood Aborigine name, “tingo” used by the people of Port Jackson for their camp dogs.

Dingo Medicine
Although in many parts of Australia, people have tried to eliminate the dingo, it’s relentlessness has ensured it’s success. Thus the dingo teaches us to be cautious but persistent in achieving our goals. Persistence can win out over talent. If you have been called by dingo, you need to be highly adaptive in order to succeed and survive.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Toms Shoes - Buy a pair and they donate a pair

Blake Mycoskie noticed something during a trip to Argentina in 2006. Many of the children didnt have shoes to protect their feet. He was inspired to do something to help. However the ideal of creating a charity, that would have to compete against all other causes for donations was the path he chose. Rather he created a shoe business that would donate a pair of shoes for every pair sold. Later that year he returned to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes

Shoes are important as in poor countries many children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realise their potential.

Now you can help make the word a better place by simply choosing TOMS for your next pair of shoes. Could it be any easier? To find a TOMS retailer, click here or visit to purchase online.

All plastics can now be recycled

Plastics are one of the most environmentally unfriendly products that exist.Plastics are generally made from petrochemicals (crude oil and natural gas) and require large amounts of energy (more burning of fossil fuels) to produce the final plastic product. Once the plastic item has served it's purpose, unfortunately a lot of it ends up in land fill as less than 10% of plastic trash is recycled, compared to almost 90% of metals.

Of the plastics that were recycled, a lot of past recycling techniques simply involved breaking down the plastic into a less useful plastic. In other words, while a glass bottle can be recycled to a new glass bottle, the same is not possible for a plastic bottle. However, thanks to new technology, this is no longer the case.

It started as a garage project in 1992 and is now four (USA, UK, China and Austria) of the most advanced plastics recycling facilities on the planet that can recycle any type of plastic back to a similar form to that created initially using crude oil. The man to thank is Mike Biddle and his company MBA Polymers (

Who better to tell you about the company and the process than the man himself:

You can show your support by purchasing recycled plastic products. Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A History Lesson for all Americans - The Indian Wars are not over

Throughout our lives we learn about different people, minorities, cultures or whole countries which have suffered at the hands of others. In school in Australia I read about the mistreatment of the Aborigines when English settlers arrived a couple of hundred years ago. A reoccuring topic in news and current affaairs is the poverty in African countries contrasted with the excessiveness of Western countries. The Dalai Lama is recognised as fighting for the plight of the Tibetans.

In the last 100 years positive changes have happened giving equal rights in many countries to people regardless of race or sexuality such as the legislation recognising gay marriage in various countries, the end of apartheid in South Africa and the civil right movement in the USA.
However there is one group of people who seem to gain little attention. Although the USA has progressed so far with the rights of African American, another demographic has very little voice. Before the English settled the USA, the land was home to the Native American Indians. Suffering the fate of other native people of countries claimed by Britain, their position today has hardly improved.

There is a growing misconception in American society that most Indian tribes have struck it rich with the establishment of Indian casinos. Another rather persistent belief is that many Indians receive a monthly stipend. Neither of these is true. Suicide is a major concern amongst American Indians. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that, from 1999 to 2004 suicide ranked as the second leading cause of death for those from age of 10 to 34. Among American Indian youth attending Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in 2001, 16% had attempted suicide in the 12 months preceding the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

In the battle for land throughout the years, reservations such as Pine Ridge were given to the American Indians. However the state of life on these reservations is bleak. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says the rate of poverty for American Indians living on reservations is three times the national average. Additionally, Over 90,000 American Indian families are homeless or under-housed.

According to "A Survey of Grant Giving by American Indian Foundations and Organizations" by Native Americans in Philanthropy, the needs of reservation Indians are so great that even if the total annual American Indian gaming revenue in the country could be divided equally among all reservations, the amount distributed per person would still not be enough to raise American Indian per capita income (currently $11,259) to anywhere near the national average of $21,587. Of the more than 560 Indian nations, only 224 are involved in gaming. Many tribes may never participate in gaming because of their geographic location in rural, unpopulated areas.

A report issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights stated one in five homes on reservations lack complete plumbing facilities and less than 50% are connected to the public sewer system. This has lead to the creation of numerous health and environmental hazards. Additionally, Over 30% of American Indian families live in overcrowded housing and 18 percent are severely overcrowded with 25-30 individuals sharing a single home. These rates are over six times the national average.

Aaron Huey, a Seattle based, freelance photographer wanted to photograph poverty in America. His journey led him to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the struggle of the native Lakota people -- appalling, and largely ignored -- compelled him to refocus. After five years of work, his haunting photos intertwine with a shocking history lesson in this bold, courageous talk from TEDxDU. This is a history lesson all Americans should take:

The Indian Wars are not over and to follow or support the current progress of Aaron Huey's campaign to have to treaties honored, please visit his website

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

US Residential Heating Oil - it's future and involvement with the environment

This will be my first winter in The U.S.A. and there is talk about turning the thermostat on. There is also talk about the price of heating oil. For an Australian this is unfamiliar. In winter we rely on heaters and reverse cycle air conditioning for winter warmth, all powered via electricity. Recently Heating Oil Shopper, a Web publishing company that specializes in information about oil production and consumption, particularly as it relates to the business and environmental impacts of oil sent me an article.

The article discusses where the Heating Oil is sourced from, future sources and possible environmental impacts. All information sources are clearly referenced and the argument is fair and even-sided.

Click here to read the article.

Some interesting points to note are:
- Canada is the top source of U.S. crude oil imports as of June 2011, with Saudi Arabia being  the second highest supplier.
- President Barack Obama has increased domestic crude oil production by 60% since last year
- Republican Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann is proposing increased drilling in the Everglades ( a rich subtropical wetlands in southern Florida with a rich and vibrant ecosystem)
- Only 12% of oil found in the ocean is from oil spills, the rest is from natural seepage, often not due to any human action
- Drilling for oil isn't the only part of the process that can have an environmental impact. The search for oil can have devastating effects on marine life such as whales.

The End of the World is before 2012?

I recently came across this video that predicted the end of the world, well the end of life as we know it, earlier than the popular view of 2012. The video starts with analysising the Mayan calender and calculates that the Mayan Calender comes to an end on the 28th October, 2011. At this point there is meant to be a major shift in consciousness of all living things on the planet.

This is followed by examining the American Indian Hopi Prophecy of the Red and Blue Star Kachina's. They link this to some comets that seem to be circling around Earth. One in particular named Comet Elenin has aligned with the earth and another heavenly body three times on the dates corredsponding with the major earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand and Japan. The next alignment is due around 17th October, 2011.

The next section starts to prophesize what will happen after these events. This is where it gets a little crazy. It predicts another world war, the collapse of the US Dollar and the Euro, the uniting of all countries under one government, currency and religion and then an alien attack. The video's supporting website supplies supporting signs on the following page:

The end result is believed to be humanity as a whole will shift from a material focus to a more spiritual and humanitarian way of life. This happens by an increased number of natural disatsters and tragedies which force people to realise what their Higher Self truly values. The merit in this can be seen from people's changes in view following past disasters ie. family, community, etc. There also does seem to be an increase in the frequency of floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. which supports the arguement.

Is the end of the world (as we know it) only a few weeks away? You be the judge by watching the video and visiting their website

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Discussing a Clean Energy Future

On 13th September 18 bills were tabled in Australian parliament covering the Clean Energy Future Package including financially penalising the major carbon polluters in the country. As experienced in the past it is not unusual for large companies to throw large sums at money to confuse an issue with propaganda. It makes sense for them to challenge the introduction of a carbon tax as for them it would have a financial impact, be another expense if they were to continue polluting the atmosphere as they currently do. However one of the aims of the carbon tax is to encourage these large polluting companies to be pro-active in finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Unfortunately not all companies are seeing this as a door of opportunity.

The time has got to come when companies, governments and decision makers realise that taking short sighted actions now to obtain economic security is not going be of long term long term if it is at the detriment of the environment and the climate. If the environment continues to deteriorate more finances will be needed in the future to deal with environmental issues, health care, resource acquirement and disaster relief further unbalancing the economy. As the famous American Indian proverbs states;

“Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

Australia is not the first country to implement a price on carbon. In Europe 31 countries have had a penalty applied to polluters since 2005. In the USA, 23 states have a price on pollution. China will run a pilot in five ‘low carbon’ provinces as part of its current five year plan, and India already has a coal tax that works similarly to a carbon price. Even Australia’s neighbor, New Zealand has already priced pollution.

One of the concerns is that the cost of living will increase for an average household. Australian Treasury believes the average household will see an increase of $9.90 a week. For low income earners and pensioners this may be significant but there are two measures that have been introduced as part of the Clean Energy Future Package to soften the impact of these price rises. Firstly, the tax-free threshold will be more than tripled from $6,000 to $18,200. Suddenly about one million people won’t need to pay income tax or file a tax return. People earning less than $80,000 per year will also receive a tax cutoff about $300 per year. Secondly, pensioners and self-funded retirees, as well as family payment recipients and other allowance recipients will see their payments increase. Some people may be better off.
Besides as per this chart, a majority of the price increase is from electricity and gas usage. This is a great opportunity for households to also be proactive about cutting their carbon foot print. This is an opportunity for greatness, not a punishment!

Trying to find legitimate arguments against the carbon tax is a challenge. The arguments seem to be focused on insulting PM Julia Gillard personally or pointing out corruption in other countries related to the running of pollution monitoring. Corruption is evident in many industries and is hardly an argument to support not working towards a better environment.

Now is the time for Australia to take action and head towards a greener future. WWF has a great video regarding the issue. Click here to view it (If you are a fan of a good looking firefighter, there is a pleasant addition for you). WWF invites you to discuss the issue with your colleagues, neighbors or friends by hosting a morning tea. Click here to get a poster to promote your morning tea, the video for you to play, a pamphlet to hand out and a Q&A for you (in case you get asked any questions that the video doesn’t answer). Best of all there are some yummy some cake and gingerbread recipes! Just remember when discussing both sides of the argument don’t just look at what each side is saying but ask the question, “Why would they want to say that?”

Another great video to check out:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Animal Of The Week: Jaguar

The jaguar is the third largest of the Big Cats, smaller only to the lion and tiger. One source of confusion for some is the differences between a jaguar and a leopard as they are both similar looking spotted big cats. Firstly you would find a jaguar in the Americas from Southern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Leopards, on the other hand, are found are found in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The build of a jaguar tends to be more stocky and muscular than that of the leopard. Spots on both jaguars and leopards will vary from individual to individual as well as between species but in general, the jaguar coat has larger rosettes in smaller numbers. The rosettes usually are darker, have thicker lines, and enclose smaller spots. The leopard's coat has smaller, fainter rosettes in larger numbers. Leopard rosettes usually don't enclose spots. However one similarity is melanism, the condition which makes the coat appear black. In both species, the rosettes can sometimes be seen in the right light.
A melanistic jaguar occurs in about 3-6% of the population. Although melanistic jaguars appear all black, under the right light you will see the black rosettes over a black background. Whereas some mutations may disadvantage animals in the wild, this variation in colour does not seem to, hence the commonness of the trait.

Evidence exists that there is also a colony of non-native melanistic jaguars or leopards inhabiting the rainforests around Sydney, Australia. A local report compiled statements from over 450 individuals recounting their stories of sighting large black cats in the area and confidential NSW Government documents regarding the matter proved wildlife authorities were so concerned about the big cats and the danger to humans, they commissioned an expert to catch it. Click here to read the Sydney Morning Herald story.

Jaguars play an important role in the rainforest ecosystems in which they live. Being a predator at the top of the food chain (apex predator) they ensure that numbers of the animals they prey on are kept under control. When hunting they are stalk and ambush predators and will willingly go into water if necessary. Once they catch their prey they use their strong jaws to crush the skull, an unusual technique for cats. Their choice of prey has been identified as up to about 87 different animals including caiman (a form of small alligator), deer, capybara, tapirs, peccaries, dogs, foxes, anacondas, frogs, mice, birds, fish, sloths, monkeys, turtles and armadillos. Some jaguars will also take domestic livestock, including adult cattle and horses. Jaguars, like all big cats (except lions) are solitary animals only coming together to mate throughout the year or when a female is raising cubs.

Jaguars are listed as Near Threatened by IUCN. Their range still remains large but is reducing due to deforestation. Direct human actions are also causing a decrease in jaguar numbers. International trade in jaguars and their parts is illegal but poachers are still an issue. Jaguars can often come off second best when they come in to conflict with local farmers or ranchers defending their livestock.

Jaguar Medicine
The jaguar has been respected by many cultures through time including the ancient civilizations of the Mayans and Aztecs. It was a animal revered for it’s power and stealth. One Mayan myth discusses how the jaguar would watch over humans looking for any dishonourable behaviour. Jaguar would devour individuals, either in real life or in dreams, bring justice for their misdeeds.

Jaguar medicine reminds us that we must use our power for the greatest good, just as jaguar does, using it’s power to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. We must show compassion, behaviour impeccably and live with integrity. In other words, listen to your higher self rather than the ego and use your personal power for obtaining your highest potential.