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BROCCOLI & QUINOA BREAKFAST PATTIES | VEGAN MONDAY #TRYVEGAN ©

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BROCCOLI & QUINOA BREAKFAST PATTIES | VEGAN MONDAY #TRYVEGAN©

Good morning world, and welcome to another #TryVegan recipe. Every Monday and Friday we release on this news site to hundreds and thousands of readers, and many more subscribers (around the globe) a ‘Try Vegan recipe’ Furthermore every day we also release a vegan and/or vegetarian recipe via our main Facebook page hereto: TRY VEGGIE OR VEGAN. Monday and Friday’s vegan recipes are aimed at those that are still wanting to try, but unsure, so why not dedicate two days of the week where you’re meat and dairy free for two of them days?

As we explain every week all recipes are aimed at everyone. We covert recipes from our readers, we share recipes from third parties, and we also make our own recipes. (Stay tuned for the new and tasty French Fries – you’ll be gagging for more). Moreover NO animal died in the making of any recipe that is 100% vegan. Anyway lets crack on.

Broccoli is probably not something you’d imagine ever eating for breakfast. However if that simple yet crucial healthy green vegetable is mixed with other plant based materials and served up with refreshing drinks you’ll never know. Did you know: Broccoli actually helps to ‘fight off cancer cells’ however it doesn’t cure cancer, nor has it ever cured any cancerous illness that I am aware of. If it helps to prevent cancers though from forming, then get it down you fast.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1 handful Green onions
1 cup Mixture of broccoli and carrots
1 1/2 tsp Onion powder
2 tsp Parsley
1 Parsley
Refrigerated
2 Flax eggs
Canned goods
1/2 Vegetable bouillon
2 cups Vegetable broth, low sodium

1 Vegan sour cream
1 cup Quinoa, cooked
1 Salt and pepper
2 tbsp Coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Bread crumbs, gluten free

“THAT’S AL YOU NEED”

RECIPE:

Rinse quinoa thoroughly then place in a sauce pan with 2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth and 1/2 vegetable bouillon (optional). Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes. The quinoa will absorb all the broth. In a large bowl add 1 cup quinoa, shredded broccoli and carrots, flax eggs, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, 2 tbsp of oil, and salt and pepper to taste, mix until well combined. Drizzle a little coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil over a fry pan. Make palm size balls out of the mixture. Place on fry pan and flatten with a spatula. Cook on both sides 2-3 minutes or until crisp golden brown then place on a plate lined with a paper towel to catch any oil drippings. Do not over saturate with oil. Once cooked enjoy right away and top with vegan sour cream and parsley.
Store in an airtight container, will last in the fridge for up to 5 days, maybe a little longer. Enjoy!

“SOMETHING GOOD TO DRINK MAYBE?”

As with all healthy breakfasts its always good to have a health drink too (with plenty of clear water). While we do like to advocate for non-dairy I myself have noticed among many vegan recipes there is an awful amount of water missing. Water is an incredibly important fluid for humans – and without it you die, simple as. I myself drink over 3.4 liters of water everyday and have done for years. You’ll know when you’re hydrated because your urine will be clear and non-smelly (that’s a good sign).

Dehydration is a leading cause for many diseases, infections, bowel problems and even serious illnesses forming. Furthermore a significantly low water intake can affect your concentration, reduce your alertness, increase irritability, mood swings, and has even been proven in students to lower their grade results. Why though?

Basically your brain needs water, to be precise your body and brain needs at least 2.6 liters of [clear water] every single day. Students trialed with a low water intake were shown to have poor exam results. Students trialed with a good water intake were proven to have near top grades. Water increases your brain function, wards of tiredness, water is so damn good for you – many of us still fail to drink enough. I find that strange.

You know many armed forces combatants that used to present themselves to me with common illnesses I’d allow them to speak then send them off, my simple order was please drink for 48 hours up to and over NOTHING BUT CLEAR WATER. You may find this difficult to digest but your immune system needs water to fend off bugs. Without it you’ll be coming down with bug after bug. Over a decade ago I read a book from an imprisoned general practitioner in Asia. He was a Human Rights Activist. Furthermore he was also a (GP).

Unfortunately he had all of his medicines removed from him, when sent to prison. Within his cell were a number of men that were suffering from serious ulcers and illnesses. Dr Batmanghelidj cleaned the ulcers with water that the guards provided to him, and asked the men to drink water every few hour until the infections cleared up until they were 100% hydrated.

The ulcers cleared up in under one week!. Meanwhile the other men that were presenting themselves to Dr Batmanghelidj were all exhibiting common and some serious illnesses. Dr Batmanghelidj later found out that them men were all being denied water. Once provided with water their symptoms and illnesses went away. You can read Dr Batmanghelidj’s book here and please do purchase it. There are no magical cures for cancers, or other ‘serious illnesses’. However a good intake of water actually increases one good thing in your body – being that of your immune system.

“ONCE YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS IN WORKING ORDER – SO ARE YOU”

“THAT’S BASIC AND STRAIGHT FORWARD MEDICINE WITHOUT THE MED’S”

BREAKFAST HEALTH SHAKE

This recipe was submitted to myself from a wonderful woman that’s actually incredibly healthy. Could it be the water? The shake is called the ‘MEAN GREEN’ and its filled with many antioxidants too.

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick of Celery
Half a Cucumber
1 half of a Lemon
1 handful of Spinach
1 handful of cos Lettuce
1 Pear (skin included), 3-4 rings of pineapple
1 big cup of CLEAR water and just a handful of ice cubes

Add to this a teaspoon of flax seeds

RECIPE:

Take all your prepared ingredients above, add them to a blender, and blitz for about twenty seconds or until the mixture is smooth. Please note when adding ice cubes you may need to blend for a little longer, and shake the blender about a bit depending on the size of the ice cubes.

That’s it folks. Your morning breakfast and drink has been written – now all you need to do is make it, serve, and consume.

Have a nice day and, don’t forget to check the video out below ON WATER!

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Master of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science. 

 

 

ENDANGERED SPECIES MONDAY | SUNDASCIURUS HIPPURUS

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ENDANGERED SPECIES MONDAY | SUNDASCIURUS HIPPURUS

This Mondays (E.S.P) post – [Endangered Species watch Post] I am documenting on the horse tailed squirrel, scientifically identified as Sundasciurus hippurus. (Image: Horse tailed squirrel. Credits: Con Foley)

Listed as [near threatened] the species was first discovered back in 1831 by French Dr Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (15 April 1772 – 19 June 1844) who was a French naturalist who established the principle of “unity of composition”. He was a colleague of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and expanded and defended Lamarck’s evolutionary theories.

Geoffroy’s scientific views had a transcendental flavor (unlike Lamarck’s materialistic views) and were similar to those of German morphologists like Lorenz Oken. He believed in the underlying unity of organismal design, and the possibility of the transmutation of species in time, amassing evidence for his claims through research in comparative anatomy, paleontology, and embryology.

Dr Geoffroy ‘allegedly’ named the squirrel ‘the horse tailed squirrel’ because the squirrels tail resembled that of a horse tail, although even I myself find that somewhat difficult to digest, as in all due honesty the tail looks more like a bushy tail, which horses don’t really host. Horses tend to have long, slender and non-bushy tails, while others do host a type of busy but lose tail. I could be wrong?!

While as yet I cannot prove this, I do believe that Dr Geoffroy may have named the squirrel after a wild dwarf Asiatic horse endemic to South East Asia – that as yet we environmentalists have as yet to discover more about, furthermore that species of horse is likely to be extinct.

Moving on and (as explained) the horse tailed squirrel has been listed as [near threatened]. From 1996-2012 the species was placed into the category of [lower risk/least concern]. Lower risk/least concern is defined as: A taxon is Least Concern when it has been evaluated against the criteria and does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

International Animal Rescue Foundation Asian Environmental Scientists have been studying this species (among others) and can confirm from camera traps that the mammal’s populations are still declining significantly. However to what extent we’re still unsure.

As yet there have been ‘no reported extinctions’ within anyone of the species endemic countries being: Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatera); Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak) and Thailand. Since 2012 environmental fauna scientists have tried in vain to establish a mean population count, unfortunately as yet we (the organisation) and non-related organisations cannot determine a true population count.

Back in 2004 Dr’s Han and Giman pers. comm stated that the species was common, furthermore there was no evidence to prove the species was severely fragmented, or nearing endangered. The species prefers to inhabits lowland forests, however is also located in secondary forests too. Scientists reported that within these secondary forests species populations were on the decline. 

Unlike your normal European squirrel the species can commonly be  located at ground level foraging for food ranging from nuts, fruits, seeds and insects. Interestingly the species is diurnal (again unlike the European squirrel). Diurnal means the species will be active either during the day or night. Whereas the European squirrel is normally pretty active during the daytime, then rests during the night. 

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Image: Horse tailed squirrel: Photographer unknown

While the species ‘often lives within the trees’, horse tailed squirrels will spend a majority of their time at ground level. It has been suggested that one of the reasons for low densities of this species in Malaysian tropical rain forest is competition from the great variety of other arboreal vertebrates (such as birds, and especially primates) for food, especially fruits and leaves, which are among the food items preferred by squirrels. 

There are by few very few threats actually known, however don’t take that as positive news. The species is threatened by habitat loss due to logging and agricultural conversion. I expect the first extinctions are likely to be witnessed within Malaysia (based on past and current research). Malaysian deforestation and palm oil plantations all pose a very high threat to the horse tailed squirrel as well as many other species of flora and fauna. 

Nearly 60% of Malaysia is still covered with natural rain forest, unfortunately much of Malaysia forests are devoted to cash crop plantations, particularly oil palm and rubber, with tree crops occupying 17% of Malaysia’s land area. These are ideally suited to Malaysia’s hot, wet, and humid climate.

While many of us are aware of ‘palm oil devastation’ which is probably by far the biggest threat to a wide number of animals and plants – including the horse tailed squirrel. I would also like to point out to many non-meat and dairy consumers (I.e: Vegans), that while coconut plantations are for now considerably small. These plantations are still being developed and farmed within areas that once saw pristine green forests – now nothing more than a brown churned up heap of land growing and harvesting coconuts too.

In Malaysia, coconut is the fourth important industrial crop after oil palm, rubber and paddy in terms of total planted area. It is also one of the oldest agro-based industries. As an industry, coconut contributes very little to the overall economy of Malaysia (contribution to export earnings of about 0.08% in 2006).

Recent competition with oil palm for land has also resulted in the decline of the total area under coconut cultivation: in 2001, the area was about 151,000 ha and this has gradually decreased to the acreage of 109,185 ha in 2007. Based on the estimates given under the 9th Malaysia Plan, it is anticipated that the acreage will consolidate to around 80,000 ha by 2010. However regardless of this ‘alleged decline’ most if not all coconut plantations are farmed within forests where species such as the horse tailed squirrel is inhabiting

The species is found in several protected areas, including Pasoh Forest Reserve. Environmentalists state the need for further comparative study on this species’ abundance, density and distribution and its relationship to forest structure or habitat quality, spatially and temporally, in hill dipterocarp forest of Malaysia is greatly needed.

For now the future of the horse tailed squirrel is uncertain. I’m doubtful the species will remain extant within Malaysia for much longer – with possible localized extinctions witnessed here soon. More research needs to be undertaken on the species, furthermore we also need to research just how much ‘pristine green forest is being converted for fruit, cereal crops, oils and plant milk crops’ rather than just palm oil. While I find palm oil agriculture incredibly concerning. Knowing that anyone of our vegan, vegetable and fruit crops is originating from areas where animals are being killed – is just as concerning too.

Thank you for reading. 

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M. 

Master of Environmental Botanical & Human Science.

(Environmental, Botanical & Human Scientist). 

FRENCH TOFU QUICHE | VEGAN VENDREDI #TRYVEGAN.

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FRENCH TOFU QUICHE | VEGAN FRIDAY #TRYVEGAN

This Friday’s vegan recipe is now out, and what a good way to end the week off with a French tofu quiche, and of course a nice Ampelidae 2012 Marigny-neuf Chardonnay (vegan friendly wine).

For those of you that may be new to our news-site, every Monday and Friday we host to hundreds of thousands of people around the globe a #TryVegan recipe. Meanwhile on our main Facebook page: Vegan and Vegetarian Foods to Promote Healthy Living we host every single day a vegan and/or vegetarian recipe that’s aimed at thousands of readers worldwide.

A few weeks a go we ditched the ‘go vegan’ hashtag as personally we believe this is demanding. We believe in encouraging people to ‘try vegan or vegetarian recipes’ rather than pushing our own beliefs down other peoples throats. We’ve listened to hundreds and thousands of our supporters over the years that dislike this form of education.

Furthermore we’ve also changed many of the recipes that we produce from things such as bowls or plates of just green vegetables – to mouthwatering, and tantalizing recipes for all the family. We’re producing soaps, liquid soaps, aromas, educating and will soon be hosting our live healthy eating channel – that is 100% non-animal harm. How cool is that!?

Okay so lets begin. The following recipe is French, the ingredients are easy to purchase from your local food store, although the wine you may need to order from a specialist or online. Should you experience any problems please do get back to one of the admins via the main link above. Apart from that have a great weekend, and don’t forget to check the video out below for a quick and simple sweet to go with your dinner too.

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST

~3 medium-large potatoes (3 cups grated)
2 Tbsp melted vegan butter (or sub olive oil with varied results)
1/4 tsp sea salt and cracked black pepper

FILLING

12.3 ounces extra firm silken tofu, patted dry
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp hummus
Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
3 1/2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 leeks, thinly sliced and thoroughly cleaned and dried (or sub 1 medium onion, diced)
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup chopped broccoli

RECIPE:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and lightly spritz a 9.5 inch pie pan with non-stick spray. Grate potatoes and measure out 3 cups. Then transfer to a clean towel and firmly squeeze out excess moisture. Add to pie dish and drizzle with melted vegan butter and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then use fingers press into the pan and up the sides to form an even layer. Bake for 22-27 minutes or until golden brown all over. Set aside. While crust is baking, prep veggies and garlic and add to a baking sheet. Toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and a healthy pinch each salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place in the 450 degree oven with the crust. When you take out the crust, lower heat to 400 and continue baking until soft and golden brown (a total of 20-30 minutes). Set aside and lower oven heat to 375 degrees.

To prepare tofu filling, add drained tofu to a food processor with nutritional yeast, hummus, and a heaping 1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper. Set aside. Remove veggies from oven, add to a mixing bowl and top with the tofu mixture. Toss to coat, then add to the crust and spread into an even layer. Bake quiche at 375 degrees for a total of 30–40 minutes or until then top appears golden brown and firm. If the crust begins to get too brown, loosely tent the edges with foil. Let cool briefly and then serve with fresh herbs or green onion. Store leftovers loosely covered in the fridge for up to two days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350 oven.

“Bon appétit”

Don’t forget to serve with a nice vegan French wine. You should today be able to locate a good wine seller that is trading in both vegan and non-vegan wines. Try to shop at a wine merchants, rather than a grocery store as you’ll most likely not locate a single vegan wine at all. Wine merchants are always best. Finally if you’re looking to impress the friends and family or just yourself and partner, then please do check the vegan French sweet out below via the video. Enjoy your weekend.

Dr Jose C. Depre – PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Master of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science. 

 

ENDANGERED SPECIES FRIDAY: PTILINOPUS CORALENSIS | ATOLL FRUIT DOVE.

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ENDANGERED SPECIES FRIDAY: PTILINOPUS CORALENSIS | ATOLL FRUIT DOVE 

This Friday’s Endangered Species Post brushes up on a species of bird that many of you may never have heard of. The atoll fruit dove, that’s listed as (near threatened) is unfortunately nearing extinction within its endemic wild. Image: Atoll Fruit Dove, credits, Steve Smith.

Endemic to French Polynesia, the species was formally identified back in 1848 by Dr Titian Ramsay Peale (November 2, 1799 – March 13, 1885) who was an American artist, naturalist, entomologist, and photographer. He was the sixteenth child and youngest son of noted American naturalist Charles Willson Peale. He is sometimes referred to as Titian Ramsey Peale II to distinguish him from his older brother with the same name who was a favorite of their father and who died at age 18 in 1798.

From 1988 the atoll fruit dove was previously listed as lower risk/least concern, data from that period showed no reasonable justification for the bird to be listed as threatened due to the species being heavily populated throughout the French Polynesia islands. Unfortunately things have drastically changed since the the late 1980’s. French Polynesia is now home to many French and non-French citizens, all of which are gradually threatening the atoll fruit doves habitat – and many other animals too.

Data records prove that from the 1980’s right through to the new millennium the species did live a pretty undisturbed life. However come 2004 the atoll fruit doves habitat and their existence took a turn for the worse. From 2004-2016 the species was (re-listed as near threatened). Populations are still decreasing, and from what we are aware of to date, there has been no official records kept that can prove the current population size which we do find rather strange. French Polynesia isn’t exactly your largest island on the planet.

What does near threatened mean though? Below I’ve extracted a paragraph from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature that will help you understand more about this ‘category‘.

“A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

Scientifically identified as Ptilinopus coralensis, the species is widespread throughout the islands of the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia. It is likely to occur at low densities throughout its range as its preferred food resources are scarce. In a recent survey it was found to be uncommon on five out of eight islands visited, but others have found it to be abundant on some atolls which have remained free from the ravages of introduced predators.

Scientists haven’t as located any ‘sub-populations’, however have confirmed that there is a ‘continuous decline of mature individuals on the island examined’ however as yet we still don’t know to what extent other than a 30% drop in populations have been recorded.

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Image: (Google Image Search): Atoll fruit dove (Credits: Geoff Jones 2014)

The atoll fruit dove is the world’s only dove in the tropical Pacific that has adapted exclusively to low coral atolls. It lives in forests and abandoned coconut plantations. It mainly feeds on insects and seeds, usually on the ground. This species also eats the leaves of the “tafano” or “kahaia” (Guettarda speciosa ) trees with odorous flowers.

THREATS

Predation by introduced rats (particularly black rat Rattus rattus) is a threat on a small number of atolls and the species is vulnerable to habitat destruction including the exploitation of coconut plantations. The species is also reported to be rather tame, and is rare on inhabited islands, so hunting may also be a threat.

Although the species is commonly known throughout the French Polynesian islands – there is still to date very little known about the bird. The issue with coconut plantation/exploitation has always been somewhat of a concern for myself and the team. In a sense its no different to be honest than the palm oil trade (however in this case, its coconut farming that is placing the species in danger to some extent!).

I am working with a number of conservationists on the French Polynesia islands that are keeping me updated on this issue overseas, as well as the cruel and barbaric dog and cat meat trade. For now our main priority is to ensure that we undertake a census in relation to the current atoll fruit dove population, examine the threats, and work how to minimize them threats (Etc).. ..Unfortunately though I cannot provide any further up to date information relating to this bird and whether the specie will be extinct soon.

Dr Jose Carlos Depre: PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M

Master of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science. 

Chief Environmental Officer and CEO. 

 

SHOULD ALL HUNTERS BE SCREENED BY MENTAL HEALTH?

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SHOULD ALL HUNTERS BE SCREENED BY MENTAL HEALTH?

Over the past five years I’ve noticed a worrying increase in the number of youth trophy hunters that are holidaying with their parents to Southern Africa for trophy hunting excursions. Some people may assume I’m being over-cautious or simply trying to stop the younger generation from undertaking a sport or so called tradition that they and their families enjoy.

Far from it; moreover I don’t believe its just the youth, that, in my eyes “would benefit from mental health screening”, but, instead all would be wannabe hunters, youth and adult, (basically anyone that wishes to acquire a hunting permit and firearms licence) to kill African wildlife and local wildlife endemic to their own country. Installing such strong and mandatory protocol – removes and/or bans mentally unstable individuals and sadists from out continent, temporarily or permanently. 

Most if not all young hunters are American – standing at some 14 million and counting; furthermore there are few if any ‘requirements or checks carried out’ on the American youth or adult that applies for a hunting permit and firearms license within all states of America that could be hosting underlying mental health problems.

Today I witnessed yet again another hunter no older than ten years of age, holding a high-powered firearm, which to me on a professional note – I do find quite concerning – especially when a routine check of that individual showed up only one year of training. On researching the boy, his home town, hunting and firearm requirements . This ten year old child had to demonstrate that he was capable of handling a firearm, as well as being knowledgeable on firearm health and safety regulations.

Finally the young man “in America” must hunt with an adult over 21 years of age who’s holding a full clean hunting licence (none of which was being followed in the video). Now in relation to checks regarding “mental health screening”, the only checks that are undertaken are on those American citizens that have been “confirmed as mentally unwell/unstable, or are at risk of hurting themselves or others”.

Unfortunately under American law it does not state that all hunters must undergo a mental health check every six months to a year to rule out mental health problems ranging from depression, anxiety attacks, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post‑traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder (among many other clinical problems).

After much research, I’ve located that ‘in a number of states of America’ there are no laws or requirements whatsoever aimed at those wanting to hunt or apply for a firearms license. That I find incredibly worrying, if not bordering absolute crazy. A firearm in a sense is no different to a vehicle. Both are dangerous in the wrong untrained and unstable hands, and both can kill if due care and attention is not practiced.

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Image: Two American 10 year old’s kill giraffe

Meanwhile most American states host a ‘minimum age requirement’ to apply for a hunting licence, and firearms permit. The lowest minimum age is (ten years of age in some states) – again I find that very concerning, especially when the human brain is still developing from the ages of 1-21 years of age.

Fortunately most states though require some form of ‘education on handling and using a firearm’ with ‘firearms safety being a must’. Unfortunately this is not a requirement within a ‘few states’ from which any child of any age can apply for a hunting and firearms licence. Within them few states there are no laws whatsoever that state you have to undergo any form of firearms training and safety course, or even education on handling and using a firearm, furthermore there are no mandatory mental health checks!

So theoretically speaking we could have a large number of children and young adults hunting in Southern Africa that have no professional training whatsoever on how to use a firearm, not forgetting anyone of them hunters that could be hosting underlying mental health conditions such as: Generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post‑traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, psychotic depression, personality disorders, or even eating disorders, or children that are living within a ‘dysfunctional family setup’. 

The minimum age that I myself could locate throughout all the American states listed here was (10 years of age and 12 years of age). Other state age requirements ranged from (16 years of age and 21 year of age). As you can see in the link above there are also some states that have no minimum age requirement, and within other states the only real requirements are that the young hunter is accompanied by a ‘qualified adult hunter’, or hunts within ‘a group of mixed age qualified hunters hunting a certain species’.

When scanning through all state requirements and those that hosted nothing more than word of mouth from an adult there wasn’t under any circumstances any form of mental health screening. The only concerns relating to mental health ‘were aimed at those that had been diagnosed with a serious mental health problem’ however even then the law states these individuals mustn’t be discriminated against. Another major concern was that very few state requirements undertook any form of background checks on the wannabe youth or near adult hunter.

So again, theoretically speaking, we could have in Southern Africa any child from the age of 10 years to 12 years. or near adult, that have committed anti social, and violent crimes or are hosting underlying mental health conditions, with little if any firearms training, hunting animals with high powered rifles. Furthermore if anyone of them youths or young adults were traumatized once killing a large animal it could exacerbate any underlying mental health problem thus seeing a potential crime being committed on the continent or once back home. As a specialist I’m absolutely gobsmacked that the United States Government haven’t as yet implemented more tougher and stringent firearm safety protocol.

While most states do require you to undergo a hunting education course, many of these courses can now be undertake online, from the comfort of your own home for as little as $25.00USD. There is no one monitoring the student to ensure they don’t cheat, there is no one with the student to ensure errors can be corrected, and finally once the course has been concluded – you can even print your own certificate off (should you pass that is). Most of these courses do not require you to attend a real live class (with instructor) to prove you’re capable of handling a firearm, and have grasped all the safety aspects of that firearm. Again I find that deeply worrying!

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Image: Female lion hunter shows no respect whatsoever

So as explained above, within the past five years there has been a large spike in the number of young hunters entering Southern Africa. Most dangerous game hunts take place within South Africa where there is an abundance of heavily populated dangerous game. However when in South Africa the young are now hunting larger, and much dangerous animals, down to big yet friendly animals such as giraffes, rather than smaller animals in their own country. While this may not seem concerning; its very concerning if we have young and near adult hunters with little training (or no training) running amok in Southern Africa that (could be hosting underlying mental health problems).

Since 1966, the National Rifle Association has urged the federal government to address the problem of mental illness and violence. As we noted then, “the time is at hand to seek means by which society can identify, treat and temporarily isolate such individuals,” because “elimination of the instrument by which these crimes are committed cannot arrest the ravages of a psychotic murderer.”.

More recently, the NRA has supported legislation to ensure that appropriate records of those who have been judged mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to mental institutions be made available for use in firearms transfer background checks. The NRA will support any reasonable step to fix America’s broken mental health system without intruding on the constitutional rights of Americans?

What the NRA is forgetting though, is that they’re only supporting legislation from which an ‘individual has been diagnosed with a mental illness’, rather than all individuals that could be harboring symptoms of mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse that haven’t as yet surfaced. As a professional and qualified neurologist, I find that incredibly concerning, that anyone who’s not undergone a routine mental health check – can apply for a hunting and firearms licence. Furthermore if symptoms of any underlying mental illness begin to surface and, rage out of control – can end in abuse, or worst case scenario – suicide or murder.

Meanwhile, while this area of regulation is not being monitored professionally then it is within my professional opinion (and that of other experts) that all countries on the African continent ban any youth and adult that hasn’t undergone a full psychiatric screening appointment. There is no harm in visiting a domestic psychiatrist or mental health community worker. Furthermore if there is an underlying condition found, that condition or symptoms can be professionally treated thus helping the individual, and eliminating any identified symptoms or an illness from becoming worse.

Another concern that I myself located within the federal laws of America is listed below for your information:

“A person cannot be federally disqualified from owning a gun based simply on a psychiatrist’s diagnosis, a doctor’s referral, or the opinion of a law enforcement officer, let alone based on getting a drug prescription or seeking mental health treatment. Doing so would actually discourage troubled people from getting the help they need”

I find that statement absolutely ludicrous. A psychiatrists diagnoses for instance is a professional diagnoses based on his or her expert findings; furthermore a psychiatrist has to undergo over twelve years of professional medical training in most cases. So why an individual that has for instance been diagnosed with a personality disorder cannot be federally disqualified for I don’t know. That itself is off the entire “stupid scale”.

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Image: 2014 states on unintentional firearms accidents on increasing 

If this is how the NRA truly work then we seriously have major problems. Moreover how many individuals are there in America that have underlying mental problems, or have been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from depression, schizophrenia, manic depression, post traumatic stress disorder holding a full hunting and firearms licence – or been granted one with no checks based on the NRA and U.S. governments screening regulations? I am not under any circumstances, whatsoever trying to discriminate here, however if an individual is “clinically and mentally unstable” then providing a firearms and hunting license is a recipe for disaster.

Finally its in the interests of the psychiatrist and, the patient once a diagnoses (or degree of concern) has been made to then follow that report up, report to the individuals personal practitioner and help that individual ‘before a hunting or firearms licence is granted’. I’m somewhat perplexed as to why this area of ‘regulation’ would discourage troubled people from getting the help they need.

Furthermore under no circumstances should anyone be firing any form of firearm or operating anything ‘dangerous’, while under the influence of any medication that can induce sedation, drowsiness, lethargy, depression, mood swings, and agitation (among many mother prescription side effects). So again, in my professional opinion no government in anyone of the trophy hunting countries on the continent of Africa should be permitting any foreigner to hunt if they are under the influence of any type of medication, and not just psychotic medicines, as well as being diagnosed with a clinical mental health illness/problem/or/disorder.

SOURCE: https://www.nraila.org/articles/20130124/mental-health-and-firearms

Meanwhile, while mental health screening is indeed of a major concern, so to is that of uneducated, poorly trained or non-trained young hunters. To date there is (coincidentally) no database that reports on the number of youth hunting deaths in America. Furthermore trying to locate any statistics in relation to foreign African hunting deaths and accidents is like searching for a needle in a hay stack. That doesn’t though mean there isn’t any deaths or accidents, because there most certainly is!

Childhood gun and shooting accidents are not rare. They are one of the top ten leading causes of accidental death for all age groups outside of newborns and infants. Furthermore these known stats overtake those of adult hunting deaths. In 2007, there were 122 unintentional firearm deaths in children, and an additional 3,060 nonfatal gun and shooting accidents, which resulted in an estimated 1,375 children needing to be hospitalized for their injuries. Unintentional firearm deaths in children have remained at about the same levels since, with 114 deaths in children and teens less than age 18 in 2010.

How many childhood hunting accidents are there? That is hard to say (as explained), as there doesn’t seem to be a national database with hunting accident statistics. The Hunter Incident Clearinghouse of the International Hunter Education Association, which hasn’t been updated recently, reports 27 hunting-related shooting accidents in 2007 in children and teens less than 18 years old. This includes at least one death, a 14-year-old in Georgia who was unintentionally shot in the chest by another 14-year-old (who had completed a hunting education class) while they were hunting squirrels.

In 2006, the Hunter Incident Clearinghouse reported 3 deaths and 38 hunting-related shooting accidents in kids and teens. The youngest was just 5-years-old. To get more recent hunting accident statistics, you will likely have to go to each state’s wildlife conservation agency and try to find it (which is exactly what I’m doing.)

The National Shooting Sports Foundation likes to tout hunting accident statistics that rank hunting injuries as somewhere between playing billiards and bowling and much less than playing golf and tennis. To put this kind of thinking into perspective, though, compared to playing golf and tennis, isn’t a hunting injury that involves a shooting much more likely to be fatal? And it is these types of hunting-related shooting accidents that people are concerned about.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take your kids hunting. You just want to do it as safely as possible to help reduce your child’s risk of getting hurt and to avoid these types of hunting accidents and tragedies which have been reported in the last few years:

  1. A 14-year-old in Calaveras County, California who died after he was unintentionally shot by a 16-year-old while they were hunting.
  2. A 17-year-old in Anderson County, South Carolina who died after she was unintentionally shot in the back by her stepfather with his high-powered rifle as they hunted deer.
  3. A 10-year-old in Cache County, Utah who died after he was unintentionally shot by a hunting companion who was removing his rifle from the front of a four-wheeler, when it fired.
  4. A 16-year-old from Exeter, California who died while hunting with family and friends after he was unintentionally shot when he wandered in front of the other hunters.
  5. A 14-year-old from Palisade, Colorado who died after he was shot in the chest while bow hunting with his father.
  6. A 12-year-old in Stephens County, Oklahoma who was hospitalized after his 10-year-old brother unintentionally shot him in his backside after he tripped and fell with a gun in his hand while hunting.
  7. A 15-year-old in Minot, North Dakota who died while hunting with his father during the opening weekend of deer season.
  8. A man near Butte, Montana who was in a critical condition after he was unintentionally shot in the abdomen by a 13-year-old in his hunting party who was unloading his rifle.

Keep in mind that these incidents don’t include the perhaps even more common scenario of when a child or teen unintentionally shoots an adult in his hunting party. This happened recently when a 12-year-old shot a man he was hunting with in Iowa when his shotgun accidentally went off.

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Image: Read more here: https://everytownresearch.org/reports/innocents_lost/

All of these reports are freely available (and there are hundreds). Furthermore these deaths and few accidents could have been avoided – had the young children been professionally educated, and monitored. Furthermore increasing the hunting age limit from 10-16 years of age (in most states) to above 18 years of age. Meanwhile in other states where there are no laws, or even the whiff of any gun control regulation, actually introducing such regulations and laws, and as stated above (ensuring that no one applies for a hunting permit or firearms license until 18 years of age or over).

SOURCE: 

International Hunter Education Association. Hunter Incident Clearinghouse. 2007 Incident Summary. Accessed January 2013.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports and Injury Mortality Reports. Accessed December 2012.
Study Guide for California Hunter Education Certificate. Accessed January 2013.

Keeping to the mental health side of things – back in 2010 the United Kingdom witnessed one of its worst firearms crimes seen since the Dunblane school massacre. Mr Derrick Bird whom fulfilled all the rifle and gun ownership laws (the strongest gun laws on the planet), as well as passing mental health assessments, shot dead 12 people, injuring a further 11 individuals, before taking his own life. The question is why did he decide that day to open up his gun cabinet and rampage through Cumbria killing many (and himself)?

WHY DID DERRICK BIRD KILL 12 PEOPLE BACK IN 2010?

First lets take a look at how Mr Bird was able to qualify for a gun and hunting licence. Getting a licence is a long and complicated business. Every stage of the process is designed to reduce the likelihood of a gun falling into the wrong hands. It starts with an application form which asks specific questions about why the individual wants a gun, telling them they need to show “good reason”.

The criteria are tougher for firearms than shotguns because weapons that fire bullets must only be used for specific purposes in specific places. These would include deer stalking or sports shooting on an approved range. In contrast, shotguns tend to be used in more general rural circumstances, such as by farmers who are protecting livestock from foxes – and police recognise that landowners need guns for pest control.

Independent referees provide confidential character statements in which they are expected to answer in detail about the applicant’s ‘mental state, home life and attitude towards guns’. Officers check the Police National Computer for a criminal record and they speak to the applicant’s GP for evidence of alcoholism, drug abuse or signs of personality disorder. Social services can also be asked for reasons to turn down an applicant. Finally, senior officers must be sure that prospective shotgun holders have a secure location for the weapon, typically a dedicated gun cabinet. Each certificate is valid for five years.

Mr Bird passed all the criteria for gun ownership, including a mental health examination, and drug and alcohol abuse surveys. Social services also assessed the applicant and stated that Mr Bird was in full state of mind, with no obvious signs of violence, nor was there any cause for concern relating to mental health problems.

However something changed, and that was Mr Birds mental health, which deteriorated rapidly resulting in 12 people being shot dead at point blank range, including a further two dozen more injuries. To date no one really knows for sure why Mr Bird decided that day in June 2010 to go on a killing spree.

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Image: Mr Bird’s victims all shot at point blank range 

However when Forensic Psychiatrists eventually delved deeper into Mr Birds past life right up to the day he began killing, then unearthed many ‘stress factors’. We know that stress can if not relieved lead to various forms of mental health problems, breakdowns or overloads to the point that an individual eventually explodes. It was stated that Mr Bird reached a ‘stress tipping point’ thus seeing no way out. From there he then killed, before taking his own life.

There has been speculation that Bird may have had a grudge against people associated with the Sellafield nuclear power plant that he worked for as a joiner, resigning in 1990 due to an allegation of theft of wood from the plant (stress 1). He was subsequently convicted, and given a 12-month suspended sentence. Three of the dead were former employees although there is no evidence that any were involved with his resignation.

Terry Kennedy, a fellow taxi driver who described himself as one of Bird’s best friends, and was wounded by Bird, has claimed that Bird had a relationship with a Thai girl he met on holiday in Pattaya, Thailand. It has been further claimed by another friend of Bird that he had sent £1,000 to the girl, who subsequently ended their relationship via a text message; he added that Bird had been “made a fool out of” (stress 2).

It has also been speculated that Bird had been involved with a family dispute over his father’s will. The speculation was heightened when it was revealed that Bird had targeted both his twin, David, and the family’s solicitor, Kevin Commons, in his attacks, killing both (stress 3). 

Police investigating the killings have also found that Bird was the subject of an ongoing tax investigation by HM Revenue and Customs for tax evasion and the threat of possible future prosecution and punishment might have contributed to his action (stress 4). According to Mark Cooper, a fellow taxi driver who had known him for 15 years, Bird had accumulated £60,000 in a secret bank account and was worried he would be sent to prison for hiding the cash from HM Revenue & Customs.

So we know of four ‘speculated stresses’ that may have built up and up in Mr Birds personal life, of which its highly likely he eventually saw red, removed the firearms from his cabinet and killed 12 people before killing himself. However prior to these killings Mr Bird was seen as a stable, easy going, and nice chap, fun loving, was “one of the lads”, and socialized like any other individual. Unfortunately all four speculated stresses are what Police believe eventually led to Mr Bird going on a killing rampage.

Under U.K. law every five years a gun holder must reapply for a firearms license. The same checks, interviews and examinations are undertaken during every re-application for that license. These checks are there to ensure that both the firearms holder is stable, and to ensure the public are kept safe.

In today’s society bullying, mental health problems, anti social behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, pier pressure, violence, murder, rape, family problems, divorce and unemployment Etc are on the increase. These problems are not just confined to the United States neither. While in the United Kingdom Mr Bird had undergone various aptitude checks, mental health and social service checks, these checks are not being carried out on the millions of young and adult American trophy hunters.

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Image: Press report of Birds rampage 

Furthermore as explained above there have been a wide number of people killed by gun owners – and gun owners that haven’t undergone the correct or even adequate training. So the number of questions remain are: Why are these checks not being carried out, how long is it going to be before we see a stressed out trophy hunting teenager or, young adult going on the rampage in Southern Africa or America, why are no mental health checks and more than professional firearms training not being carried out in America before young hunters visit the African continent?

Every month now I am witnessing younger adults hunting in Southern Africa using a wide range of high powered firearms. On researching these children I find they are still at school. Furthermore on going through their ‘open public Facebook and Twitter accounts’ I am reading various problems from pier pressure, family relation problems, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, school pressure, down to personal relationship problems too.

Finally when researching through every single gun shooting in the U.K. and the U.S. you eventually find that all of these shooters were emotionally and mentally to some degree unstable. In my personal and expert opinion its now time we either banned American hunters from Southern Africa that haven’t undergone the strict training and mental health checks, we increase the trophy hunting age from 16 to 21, we ban minor hunting, or we ban Americans from entering Africa that wish to hunt? 

I have written an incredibly long document to each Environmental Affairs Ministry in Southern Africa and every single United States Senator. We need this area of lax gun and animal welfare laws tightened immediately. Enough is enough. In my humble opinion all hunters must be screened by mental health, doing so will see a decrease in hunting accidents, hunting gun crimes, and an improvement in animal welfare and rights laws – with far less animals slaughtered at the hands of sadists.

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Master of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science. 

 

Vegan Monday | Vegan French Dip Sandwiches | #TryVegan.

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VEGAN FRENCH DIP SANDWICHES

Vegan Lundi

Every Monday and Friday – International Animal Rescue Foundation hosts a #TRYVEGAN recipe. We scan recipes from around the globe, convert them, the pubic send recipes to us to convert, or we simply publish our own recipes or that of third parties. We’ve made a small change to our hash-tag as we believe, in a way the “#GOVEGAN” tag is demanding, so we’ve changed that to #TRYVEGAN. What’s the harm in trying? Every Monday and Friday (two days a week) going completely meat, dairy and other animal products free from your normal diet.

Furthermore we’re not in the habit of publishing trash, such as plates of plain lettuce leaves, carrots, spinage or general boring recipes from which there is no goodness whatsoever, nutrients, fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals. Vegan foods must never be boring, and all you’re doing is removing the animal products and replacing that with a non-animal product. Today we’ve a small French recipe which is actually a rather tasty dish in France known as ‘dip sandwiches’. The meat of course has been removed. Try it, you’ll be amazed at just how tasty and filling this simple, easy to make dish is. I would advise to make your own French bread, alternatively, pick out some granary, gluten free French bread from your local continental farmers market.

INGREDIENTS: 

2 tbsps olive oil (divided)
1 onions (medium, sliced into half rings)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
3 portobello caps (about 20 oz. total, cleaned and sliced into thin strips)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional, but highly recommended)
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 inches sandwich rolls (or baguette sections, sliced open) [Please do try French bread]
horseradish mustard

RECIPE:

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and place over medium-low heat. Add onion and toss a few times to coat with oil. Allow to cook until caramelized, about 20 minutes, flipping occasionally. Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes more. Transfer onions and garlic to a plate. Coat skillet with another tablespoon of oil and raise heat to medium. Add mushroom strips. Avoid overcrowding the skillet. A little overlapping is okay, but work in multiple batches if needed (I needed two), adding a bit of oil between batches if needed. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook 5 minutes more on opposite sides. Return onions to skillet and add broth, soy sauce, Worchestershire sauce, thyme, liquid smoke and pepper. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Slather the insides of rolls with horseradish mustard. Use a slotted spoon to remove onions and mushrooms from skillet, pressing lightly to squeeze out any excess juice. Divide onions and mushrooms into rolls. Pour cooking liquid into a small bowl and serve with sandwiches, for dipping.

“IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE”

And if you want a sweet after, and think you’ve got what it takes to be a ‘French cook’ – which is pretty easy. Why not try French Vegan Gingerbread Toast Sticks. 

ENJOY AND HAVE A NICE DAY. 

Dr Jose C. Depre. 

Endangered Species Monday | Tasmanian Devil | Sarcophilus harrisii.

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ENDANGERED SPECIES MONDAY | TASMANIAN DEVIL

This Mondays endangered species watch post (ESP) is dedicated to the Tasmanian devil, an endangered carnivorous marsupial that’s roughly the same size as a small domesticated canine. (Image credits: Bicheno Tasmania tourism)

The Tasmanian devil was formally identified back in 1841 by ‘French’ Dr Pierre Boitard (27 April 1787 Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire – 1859) whom was a French botanist and geologist. As well as describing and classifying the Tasmanian devil, he is notable for his fictional natural history Paris avant les hommes (Paris Before Man), published posthumously in 1861, which described a prehistoric ape-like human ancestor living in the region of Paris. He also wrote Curiosités d’histoire naturelle et astronomie amusante, Réalités fantastiques, Voyages dans les planètes, Manuel du naturaliste préparateur ou l’art d’empailler les animaux et de conserver les végétaux et les minéraux, and Manuel d’entomologie etc.

Listed as (endangered), and scientifically identified as Sarcophilus harrisii. Back in 1996 conservation scientists undertook further research on the species thus concluding the species was of ‘lower risk’. Unfortunately since 1996 – things have changed dramatically on the Australian continent. From the middle 1990’s conservationists estimated the mean mature individual total as being – 130,00-150,000 mature individuals.

Spotlighting sightings of Tasmanian devils across the state have declined significantly since the emergence of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) in the mid-1990s: by 27% by early 2004, by 41% by early 2006, by 53% by early 2007, and by 64% by early 2008. The decline was significantly sharper in regions where DFTD had been reported earliest, such that in north-east Tasmania, mean sightings have declined by 95% from 1992-1995 to 2005-2007, with no indication of recovery or plateau in decline.

Comparison of mark-recapture results in the same area from the mid-1980s and 2007 supports this finding. At the Freycinet peninsula, on the east coast of Tasmania, where the population has been monitored through trapping from 1999 to the present, the population has declined by at least 60% since the disease was first detected in 2001 and the adult population still appears to be halving annually. Other indicators of devil abundance, such as road kills, predation on stock, and carrion removal, also support this conclusion of a substantial decline.

Surveys conducted back in 2007 ‘estimate the (mature) Tasmanian devil populations to be standing 25,000 being the highest estimate’; this equates to around 50,000 individuals. However back in 2004 conservationists stated the (mature populations) could be as low as 21,000 mature individuals. Conservationists have confirmed that due to the rapid spread of Devil Facial Tumor Disease, and other threats such as road accidents and predator kills – acknowledging these provisos, the best estimate of total population size based on current evidence thus lies within the range of 10,000-25,000 mature individuals. Based on threats, gestation, life span this therefore qualifies the species to be entered into [endangered category].

13 Feb 2011, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia --- Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) being treated by scientist for DFTD, Devil Facial Tumor Disease. This is a cancer that is spread by biting or physical contact from one animal to another, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Australia. --- Image by © Dave Wattsl/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis

13 Feb 2011, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia — Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) being treated by scientist for DFTD, Devil Facial Tumor Disease. This is a cancer that is spread by biting or physical contact from one animal to another, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Australia. — Image by © Dave Wattsl/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis.

In North-Western Australia Tasmanian devil populations are estimated to be standing at between (3,000-12,500 individuals). Meanwhile – in Eastern South Western Australia populations are said to be standing at 7,000 12,500 individuals.

Other trapping work by the Department of Primary Industry and Water (DPIW) Save the Tasmanian Devil Program broadly support these predictions for DFTD-free regions. However, in central and eastern regions, marked population declines have been detected, in association with the earlier reports of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), subsequent to the time of the Jones and Rose survey. The north-west region is thus now thought to support the highest population densities.

The species is not known to be seriously or severely fragmented, however populations on the decline and fast, primarily due to Devil Facial Tumor Disease.

THREATS

Current evidence suggests that DFTD is an infectious, widespread disease, so that any attempt to delineate boundaries between affected and unaffected locations is likely to be outdated swiftly. DFTD has been associated with local population declines of up to 89% since first reported (Hawkins et al. 2006, McCallum et al. 2007), indicated by long-term spotlighting data, widespread trapping and laboratory results. The declines, and the prevalence of the disease, have not eased off in any monitoring sites, and DFTD is present even in very low density areas.

It is estimated that the adult population is approximately halving annually on the Freycinet peninsula with extinction predicted at this site 10-15 years after disease arrival. Declines were most marked in areas where the disease had been reported earliest, in north-eastern and central eastern Tasmania.

Mean spotlighting sightings of Tasmanian devils per 10 km route, obtained from across the core Tasmanian devil range (eastern and north-western Tasmania), have declined by 53% since the first report of DFTD-like symptoms in 1996. The most immediately threatened location is thought to be the region where DFTD was reported prior to 2003: across 15,000 km² of eastern Tasmania.

By 2005, the Devil Disease Project Team had confirmed DFTD in individuals found across 36,000 km² of eastern and central Tasmania. DFTD is now confirmed across more than 60% of the devil’s overall distribution, and there is evidence for continued geographical spread of the disease, so that Tasmanian devils across between 51% and 100% of Tasmania may be, or have already been, subject to >90% declines in a ten-year period. The currently affected region covers the majority of the formerly high-density eastern management unit, involving what was perhaps around 80% of the total population.

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Image: Tasmanian devil killed by car/with suspected DFTD.

DTFD has resulted in the progressive loss of first the older adults from the population and then the younger adults so that populations are comprised of one and two year old’s. As female devils usually breed for the first time at age two, they may not successfully raise a litter before they die of DFTD. An increase in precocial breeding indicates some compensatory response, but as yet this appears to have been insufficient to counter mortality.

DFTD behaves like a frequency-dependent disease, probably because the majority of the injurious biting, which is the type of contact most likely to lead to disease transmission, occurs between adults during the mating season. Frequency-dependent diseases, which are typically sexually transmitted, can lead to extinction. Because transmission occurs between the sexes at mating irrespective of population density, these types of diseases lack a threshold density below which they become extinct.

Cannibalism is considered fairly common in Tasmanian devils and renders the species particularly vulnerable to disease transmission. However, modes of transmission of DFTD are not as yet known.

ROAD KILLS:

A recent three-year study of roadkill frequency on the main roads of Tasmania estimated 2,205 Tasmanian devils are killed on roads annually. This suggests that 2-3.% of the total Tasmanian devil population are killed on roads (based on an estimated population of 60,000–90,000 individuals at the time of the survey). The roaded parts of Tasmania closely match the core distribution area for Tasmanian devils.

Roadkill was attributed as the cause of up to 50% and 20% of Tasmanian devil death during a recording period of 17 months at Cradle Mountain and 12 months at Freycinet National Parks, respectively. Local extinction and a similar rate of population decline at Cradle Mountain indicates that roadkill can cause local extinction, in which the road becomes a local sink. Future impact is likely to remain at the same level.

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Image: Paper cutting relating to 3 year study of fauna road kill

DOG KILLS:

Reports of about 50 devils killed per year by poorly controlled dogs are served from about 20 dog owners. There is no obligation or incentive for such reports, and generally some hesitance even among those providing them, so the real figures are more likely of the order of several hundred devils killed by dogs each year.

FOXES:

There have been spasmodic, small-scale introductions of the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) into Tasmania since early European colonisation. Early incursions were sometimes efforts at acclimatisation and others for short-term hunting. More recently, there has been at least one accidental incursion (from a container ship in 1998) and credible reports of a concerted, malicious campaign of introduction.

Hard evidence (confirmed scats, carcasses) of foxes has been found in the north-west and northern and southern midlands. Credible sighting reports have come from most of the eastern half of the State including the central highlands and the far north-west, mostly areas where Tasmanian devil populations are suppressed by DFTD.

A commonly held view has been that the abundance of Tasmanian devils has prevented fox establishment through interference competition, either aggressive exclusion or predation on denned juveniles. Red Foxes and Tasmanian devils share preferences for den sites and habitat, and are of a similar size. Tasmanian devils abundance is likely to slow, if not prevent, fox establishment.

It is possible that foxes have been present in Tasmania for many decades at sub-detectable levels, and that a degree of ecological release has occurred due to DFTD, with foxes increasing to detectable numbers. The current impact of the Red Fox has been quantified, and it is unlikely that fox numbers are currently at a level to impose a measurable impact.

A decline in Tasmanian devils number may create a short to medium-term surplus of food, for example carrion; ideal for fox establishment. Fox establishment may cause both direct and indirect effects on Tasmanian devils. Direct effects include (reciprocal) killing by then abundant foxes of then rare juvenile devils at dens while the female forages.

Fox establishment may also cause ecosystem disruptions through changes in other species – a feature of foxes on mainland Australia and something that might then also indirectly affect Tasmanian devils. Tasmania has the potential to hold up to 250,000 foxes (based on modelling of habitat preferences and densities in south-east mainland Australian) which could replace most medium- to large-sized marsupial carnivores.

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Image: Red foxes have been reported to prey on Tasmanian devils/Other Marsupials. 

PERSECUTION: 

In the past, persecution of the Tasmanian devil has been very high throughout settled parts of Tasmania, and is thought to have brought about very low numbers at times. Through the 1980s and 1990s, systematic poisoning in many sheep-growing areas (particularly fine-wool with its reliance on merinos) was widespread and probably killed in excess of 5000 devils per year. In the 1990s, control permits were occasionally issued to individuals who were able to argue that Tasmanian devils were pests (e.g. killing valuable lambs).

Current persecution is much reduced, but can still be locally intense with in excess of 500 devils thought to be killed per year. However, this is reducing since devil numbers have declined. While the small amount of current persecution is likely to persist it is unlikely to constitute a major threat unless the Tasmanian devil population becomes extremely small and fragmented.

LOW GENETIC DIVERSITY: 

Dr Jones in 2004 found the genetic diversity of Tasmanian devils to be low relative to many Australian marsupials as well as placental carnivores. This was consistent with an island founder effect, but previous marked reductions in population size may also have played a role. Low genetic diversity can reduce population viability, and resistance to disease.

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Image: Tasmanian devil (photographer unknown).

Tasmanian devils normally eat birds, snakes, fish, reptiles and insects. Furthermore its not uncommon to witness the species feasting on dead carrion. Female devils will mate with dominant males, who fight to gain their attention. Three weeks after conception, the females ‘can’ give birth to up to FIFTY BABIES, called joeys, although some reports state between 20-30 joeys. These extremely tiny joeys scramble to attach themselves to one of the four available teats in the mother’s pouch. Gestation is around 21 days.

For now the future is uncertain with regards to the Tasmanian devil. The species hosts a large number of natural threats, as well as roadkill accidents, human persecution and (DFTD). For now populations are considered to be generally high, although not that high for the species to qualify as vulnerable, or even near threatened. There are a number of Australian marsupials facing many threats, despite the continent being inhabited at some 10% by humans, or to be precise – 768,685 km2.

While I myself cannot state for certain what the future may hold for the Tasmanian devil – for now based on the large number of threats and continued population declines – its highly likely that come 2026 we’ll be seeing yet another Australian extinction occurring under our noses, and that is the sad reality of life from which our wildlife is facing today.

One thing is for sure though – never underestimate the DEVIL – they’re not called devils for nothing and have a rather cute temper too. Welcome to the planets largest carnivorousness marsupial. The Tasmanian devil

Thank you for reading. 

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Master Scientist of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science

CYPRUS: WELCOME TO THE SONGBIRD KILLING FIELDS.

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WELCOME TO THE CYPRUS KILLING FIELDS

Just over a week ago, while walking through the local woodland gardens, I noticed a little European robin that just happened to perch next to a fence no more than a few meters in front of me. I was taken aback because, this was the first robin sighting in as many years, today its actually quite rare to spot them, and while I embraced the moment, it dawned on me, why wasn’t I witnessing more of these beautiful birds within the wild?.

Robins normally head south to winter on the Continent, joining other robins passing through in the autumn on their way from Scandinavia and northern continental Europe. Interestingly, it has been shown that many migrating robins are faithful to both their summer and winter territories, which may be many hundreds of kilometers apart. Regardless of where they migrate though I myself and many other conservationist’s are seeing fewer and fewer robins and other song birds.

Every day when I awake I spend a few minutes trying to identify the number of songbirds singing within the wild within the confines of my garden. One can normally identify each individual species of bird by its unique signature melody. As a young boy it was almost difficult to identify more than a handful due to so many songbird species inhabiting the local areas. Today I can identify no more than two or three if that, and in relation to the rare sightings of robins and songbirds – this tells me only one thing – we’re losing our songbirds at an alarming rate!.

Its estimated every year that a staggering TWENTY SEVEN MILLION songbirds are slaughtered on the Mediterranean. Songbirds are unfortunately ending up on the plates of many Cypriots – to the tune of some 1.3 million, of which this number is increasing every year. Cyprus like every country hosts a wide range of traditional and culinary delights. However this culinary tradition must come to an abrupt end – very soon across the entire Mediterranean (not just Cyprus), failing this mass songbird extinctions will occur.

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Image: Poached robin, (inset) ambelopoulia song bird delicacy. 

Unfortunately one of them so called ‘traditional culinary delights’ is that of boiled songbirds. And please don’t for one minute think I’m singling out Cyprus here. My own country hosts a number of nauseating traditional foods that sees ducks, geese even swans butchered to provide Foie Gras and, songbirds too. Germany sells a number of robin dishes, while Malta is an even bigger offender killing hundreds of thousands of birds every year just to provide a so called “traditional food” for the locals and foreigners. Songbirds are vanishing from the Mediterranean, and the rate at which they’re being eaten is very likely to push many species into extinction in the next decade.

Cyprus has a plethora of customs due to its long history and tradition and numerous distinctive dishes for visitors to taste. The best place to do this is in one of the many traditional tavernas dotted around the island’s attractive villages, where one could order a selection of Cyprus dishes such as koupepia, souvla, kolokasi, pourgouri, seftalies and makaronia tou fournou to name just a few. For the ultimate gastronomic experience in Cyprus, the best way to try all of these and more in one sitting is as ‘mezedes’, a selection of more than 20 vegetable and meat dishes – make sure you are hungry as food will be plentiful.

However while all of these dishes may sound, look and even taste nice, a large minority of individuals on the island of Cyprus (not all), indulge in the local and traditional delicacy of boiled or grilled songbirds. Back in 1974 the government of Cyprus was lobbied and pressured to ban songbird trapping, and poaching. Today its currently still illegal to trap songbirds (as seen in the image above). While these laws prohibit anyone from illegally trapping, killing and serving up ambelopoulia – the law is very rarely enforced, which does concern us dearly. Furthermore what’s the point in having laws in place (since the 1970’s) if you’re not going to follow through with them?

AMBELOPOULIA

Mention ambelopoulia to a songbird – and it sends shivers through them, (well not literally); ambelopoulia is though the main Cyprus culinary delight – of which songbirds are pickled, roasted, grilled or boiled served with a number of vegetables or sweet fruit sauces. The traditional food normally involves boiling songbirds. The two common species of birds eaten are that of blackcaps and European robins – which is probably why I’m seeing fewer songbirds every year.

As a result almost 2,418,000 birds across the whole of Cyprus were estimated to have been killed during 2010. According to a BirdLife Cyprus report released in 2014, over 1.5 million migrating songbirds are killed annually, and the number is increasing each year. In 2015 it was estimated that over 2 million birds were killed including over 800,000 on the British Territories. Now there are new reports issued this year by various bird groups that confirm we are losing a staggering 27 million songbirds every year on the Mediterranean – many of which are killed for human delicacies.

Songbirds are trapped, killed, trafficked and consumed within many European countries. Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Russia, Malta, and of course Cyprus – all of which is mostly illegal. What makes matters even worse (in relation to Cyprus) is that a large number of songbirds are actually killed on the local British military bases on the island, so why are the Brits allowing this dare I ask?. Birdlife Cyprus stated in a report this year: “Over 800,000 birds were trapped and killed illegally on a British military base in Cyprus last autumn, according to the latest research by the RSPB and BirdLife Cyprus”. 

Organised crime gangs are running this illegal practice on an ‘industrial scale’, which is estimated by the Cypriot authorities to earn criminals on the island 15 million Euros every year. Survey data from BirdLife Cyprus and other organisations have recorded over 150 species of bird which have become trapped in mist nets or on lime-sticks (pictured below). More than half of these species are of conservation concern. On a positive note, the results from 2015 show that there’s been a stop to the ‘annual increases’ of the last five years in numbers of birds killed on British Territory, thanks to various measures taken to tackle the problem by the Base authorities. The numbers however remain around record-breaking levels, with levels of illegal killing still far worse on British Territory than in the Republic of Cyprus.

The trappers defend their activity by citing the practice as traditional Cypriot food gathering and claiming that this has been an important source of protein for the natives for many thousands of years, even though the practice has been illegal since 1974. BirdLife Cyprus has identified restaurants as the main culprits as they provide the financial incentives. The enthusiasm Cypriots and many other visitors to the island have for this delicacy despite its illegality has resulted in the development of a very profitable industry.

Poaching for ambelopoulia has been on the rise in recent years, involving by 2011 a “mafia-like operation” that include poachers, dealers, exporters, and restaurant operators that participate in the illegal business estimated to be worth about 5 million euro at that time (2011). The birds reportedly sell for five euros each and it is estimated by Cypriot authorities to have earned criminals on the island 15 million euro in 2015.

LIME STICKS

Cypriot poachers illegally poach songbirds using a number of methods. One of them (seen pictured below) are lime sticks. The use of lime sticks is ‘strictly illegal’, however as explained above, despite laws in place on the island local authorities still turn a blind eye.

Lime sticks are a simple but particularly cruel and indiscriminate method of trapping birds. ‘Twigs’ are covered with a sticky ‘lime’ or ‘glue’ (in Cyprus trappers traditionally used a concentrate made from boiled Syrian plums) and are placed wherever birds can be tempted to perch. This could be in natural vegetation like bushes or trees, or sometimes lime sticks are pushed into the ends of bamboo poles. And as you guessed – once the bird lands on the lime stick they are stuck fast.

The more the bird struggles, the more it becomes entangled within the sticky like natural/unnatural substance. Songbirds die a horrific death, struggling for hours before being crushed to death by poachers, or dying of extreme exhaustion and stress. Just in one area (such as local gardens alone), its estimated that ‘hundreds of lime sticks are set up to catch as many birds as possible’. More than TWO MILLION songbirds are illegally poached using this method of trapping – which is cruel, painful, and totally barbaric.

LIMESTICK

Image: Lanius collurio (Red Backed Shrike) trapped using a lime stick. 

In Cyprus alone its “estimated that some one million songbirds are caught using this method of illegal trapping. Most of the sticks are set up within residents gardens – which makes policing even more difficult. One must also think – how is it even possible for every single home within Cyprus to be monitored by the local authorities?.

Lime sticks are so effective because when a bird lands its legs bend causing two flexor tendons to tighten which ‘lock’ the toes around a perch. This involuntary reflex (designed to stop perched birds falling while they sleep) means that the bird in effect presses down hard into the ‘lime’ as soon as it makes contact with it. Birds become stuck immediately. As they flutter to free themselves their wings, head, and even beak will often become stuck too.

“TRAPPERS RIP THE BIRDS FROM THE LIME STICK AND CRUSH THEM TO DEATH”

Birds caught on lime sticks are unable to get free and hang helplessly – often for hours – until the trapper comes and literally rips them off the stick and crushes them to death.

Article 9 of the European Birds Directive (2009/147/EC, formerly 79/409/EEC), states that trapping methods that are non-selective or are used for large-scale capture or killing of birds are prohibited in European Member States. This includes lime sticks, and their manufacture, sale, ownership, and use is therefore illegal across the EU. Unfortunately while this horrific method of trapping may indeed be illegal – poachers are still getting away with murder.

MIST NETS

I’ve spent a number of years living on the small island of Malta (on and off) and, a number of years trying to destroy these bloody nets with the help of many local and overseas activists. Mist nets are just as cruel and barbaric as lime sticks, although I must state that birds are caught instantly, and killed there and then – nevertheless their deaths are still horrific.

Mist nets are often use by poachers on the island of Cyprus to catch a larger number of birds, meanwhile these very same poachers will also have lime sticks deployed within key areas. So it kind if gives you a little more insight into just how greedy poachers and buyers have become. Furthermore the rate at which we’re losing songbirds – and the levels of poaching increasing, what’s next when extinction finally does occur. Mist nets are also used within Spain, France, Romania, and Germany (among many other EU countries).

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Image: Mist nest. Inset is the local delicacy of Cyprus. 

Its estimated (just in Cyprus alone), hundreds of thousands of birds are caught and brutally slaughtered within mist nets every year, and with over a million more using lime sticks – and with laws rarely enforced on the island of Cyprus, will we be seeing a colossal extinction soon of migrating songbirds? I hate to say this, but unless laws are enforced and action is taken against poachers on a larger scale – extinctions will occur.

International Animal Rescue Foundation France has thus far located a total of 139 restaurants on the island of Cyprus, of which we have uncovered out of them 139 some 24 which are selling illegally ambelopoulia. I.A.R.F.F believe that the number of restaurants illegally trading ambelopoulia is much greater than 24. Furthermore due to the dish being so popular and craved after, its highly likely that the ‘majority’ of restaurants are trading ambelopoulia. International Animal Rescue Foundation France are calling on all tourists to please BOYCOTT all Cyprus restaurants that are trading openly this vile and cruel so called delicacy.

The birds sell for approximately CY2.00. One tourist stated: “Consumers are encouraged to swallow the bird whole”. On a plate you’re normally served in between four to five songbirds, and a number of other dishes too. If you are a tourist please, please do not indulge in this delicacy, and report the restaurant immediately to the local police. Another tourist that visited the area of Laxia, stated: “Laxia is somewhat of a favorite with the police, mayor and local mafia. So if there’s anything illegal going on you’ll probably find it there”. From what we are aware locals don’t encourage you to swallow the dead boiled bird[s] whole, however it wouldn’t be somewhat of a shock if this was factual.

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Image: Poached songbirds confiscated from poachers on the UK armed forces base. 

“WHY ARE SONG BIRDS IMPORTANT?”

Songbirds are an incredibly important species of bird consisting of over 159 separate species that are endemic mostly to Europe, and as far away as Asia, America, Canada and Africa. While eating them may seem “important or traditional”, scientifically speaking you’re actually harming the environment, and removing yet another food chain link that many other species of animals depend on.

For management purposes, songbirds are part of a group called “land birds,” species that rely mainly on terrestrial habitats and some vegetated wetlands. Songbirds eat a wide variety of foods, including insects, seeds, berries, nectar, and fruit. If we lose our songbirds there will be a dramatic increase of insects, and an alarming decrease in foods that we humans also require.

Furthermore we and other animals need songbirds to continue the spread of plant, fruit and vegetable seeds to ensure that we and animals don’t go hungry. The same applies to fruit trees and bushes too. Many songbirds pollinate fruit trees and bushes – of which them plants and trees provides humans and animals fruits and berries. Finally as explained above – many songbirds are also a vital bird crop pollinator – should extinction occur, then we’ve lost a massive pollinating species that we humans and animals rely on. Are you ready to pollinate crops by hand, or prepared to pay higher prices for fruit and vegetables?

Reptiles, snakes, lizards, and even marine species such as sharks eat songbirds which are part of their diet. No songbirds means a drastic decline of food prey for reptiles, snakes, lizards, marine and amphibious species. So while you may not think songbirds are important – they truly are. Because the trapping methods are non-selective, 150+ species are known to have been caught in the traps. More than a third (58 species) of these are species of conservation concern, including the lesser kestrel, which is vulnerable to global extinction.

Extinction here is really not an option and, we must do more to preserve and secure our songbirds habitat and them too. There are many links and a handful of videos within this article, plus many alarming facts. Please share, and please help us and many other groups defend Mother Natures songbirds. If you see a trap or mist net, please report it. If you can destroy them traps without harm coming to yourself, then please do so. You can even call on us and other groups to destroy these illegal traps too.

“EXTINCTION IS NOT AN OPTION”

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Thank you for reading. 

Dr Jose Carlos Depre. 

Environmental, Botanical & Human Scientist  

PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Monday | Braised Tofu With Mushrooms Taiwanese Vegan Style.

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Vegan Monday | Braised Tofu With Mushrooms Taiwanese Vegan Style.

Every Monday and Friday we release on this site a vegan or vegetarian recipe for hundreds of thousands of readers across the globe during the last six months of the year. Furthermore we also release everyday via our main Facebook page a vegan or veggie recipe. Vegan Monday’s and Fridays are aimed at everyone, to encourage our readers twice a week to at least try a meat free or dairy free diet. We’re not forcing our beliefs or diet whatever you wish to call it onto you, however we’re giving you the option to at least try, and why not?

Today’s environment is heating up and fast. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has predicted a 2-3oc temperature rise globally come 2050-2100, and the main reason for this rise is due to massive methane and carbon pollutants entering the atmosphere. So we believe its in our interests and, yours to at least try to reduce the effects of climate change by opting for one or two days a week (meat and dairy free)?.

Over the past month we have been asked by many people around the world to provide recipes about tofu, or have been submitted meat recipes to change into meatless recipes. This Monday we’re going back to Asia briefly and next week we’re going to get our hands into some real European vegan and veggie recipes.

BRAISED TOFU WITH MUSHROOMS TAIWANESE STYLE

INGREDIENTS: 

  1. 500g fresh tofu
  2. 3 colours of peppers (half a pepper of each)
  3. A stick of celery or two
  4. Wood ear fungus, a handful
  5. A cup of dried shitake mushrooms
  6. One chopped spring onion
  7. A chili
  8. A thumb of ginger
  9. Sauce – 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp thick soy sauce, some sesame oil, corn flour and a vegetable stock cube, 2 tsp sugar (please check for palm oil, if added please try to leave out)
  10. One carrot shredded for topping
  11. A handful of shredded spinach for topping

INSTRUCTIONS:

Soak the dried mushrooms and wood ear fungus overnight in a cup of water (keep the water for the gravy/sauce).
Cut the tofu into small/medium triangles. Chop up the rest of the ingredients to your liking. In a small bowl make the sauce with the 2 soy sauces and the stock cube, the dried mushroom soaked water and use cornflour to thicken and 2 tsp of sugar. (Please leave the sugar out if catering for diabetics, or children).

Now quick fry all your peppers and celery,  for about 20 seconds in hot shallow oil. In the hot pan pour out the oil and add in some sesame oil, just about 2 tbsp. Put the tofu pieces in the hot pan and add a teaspoon of sugar to help the browning. Turn the tofu patiently until all your sides are browned and crispy. For a sugar alternative – please click the link here http://greatist.com/health/30-sugar-substitutes-any-and-every-possible-situation

When it looks ready, push the tofu to the side and add the other vegetables, stir with a bit more oil if you need it, also add a bit of soy sauce. Add the bowl of sauce you made, now braise the whole lot together for a couple of minutes so the sauce flavor combines into the tofu. Optionally add a dash of Worcester sauce and a sprig basil to serve, garnish with grated raw carrot and spinach!

I’m not a fan of tofu, (but that’s my opinion), however when I cooked this last night it was incredibly tasty, and infused with so many different tastes that slowly emit into ones mouth stimulating all the tastes buds, palate and finally brain. The tip is not to overcook these foods, as it will drain the flavor, and you’ll be left with a tasteless goop. You can add like I did sunflower seeds or mixed seeds to the top, and a handful of crushed pistachio. Don’t forget to check the quick and easy recipe out below via the video.

Have a nice day. 

Dr Jose C. Depre. 

Environmental, Botanical & Human Scientist. 

ENJOY

 

Endangered Species Monday | Potorous gilbertii – Back From The Brink Of Extinction.

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Endangered Species Monday | Potorous gilbertii

This Monday’s (ESP) post, I’ve decided to document a little more on Australia’s wildlife. This Monday I have dedicated this post to one of Australia’s most endangered marsupials. Commonly known as the Gilbert’s Potoroo. (Image Credit Parks and Wildlife Australia).

Identified as the worlds ‘rarest marsupial’, the species is scientifically known as the Potorous gilbertii. Listed as (critically endangered) the species was primarily identified back in 1841 by Dr John Gould FRS – 14 September 1804 – 3 February 1881) who was a British ornithologist and bird artist. He published a number of monographs on birds, illustrated by plates that he produced with the assistance of his wife, Elizabeth Gould, and several other artists including Edward Lear, Henry Constantine Richter, Joseph Wolf and William Matthew Hart.

Dr Gould has been considered the father of bird study in Australia and the Gould League in Australia is named after him. His identification of the birds now nicknamed “Darwin’s finches” played a role in the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Gould’s work is referenced in Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species.

Life hasn’t been at all easy for the P. gilbertii. It was only back in 2012 that conservation and environmental scientists (rediscovered) the species of which it was believed the marsupial had gone completely extinct within the wild. Endemic to Australia there is very little known in relation to when threats came about, increased and decreased. However I can state now; as small as populations are known – P. gilbertii’s populations are ‘currently stable within the wild’.

While though populations are stable, there are only thirty to forty actually known to be living within their endemic wild, so there is still a large amount of concern for the worlds most endangered marsupial. Back in early 1980’s the species had been listed as (completely extinct within the wild after studies from the 1800’s turned up nothing). Fortunately though environmental scientists went on the prowl and were not under any circumstances ready to write this species off whatsoever. They were technically looking for an animal that hadn’t been seen since the 1880’s-1990’s. Their work though eventually paid off.

“THEN CAME A BREAK THROUGH IN 1994”

Environmental scientists come 1992-1993 were ready to write the species off, call off all explorations and projects that were aimed at hopefully rediscovering the species. Fortunately though the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service persisted – and come 1994 a spotting was recorded. After so many years believing the Gilbert’s Potoroo had gone extinct, scientists discovered an extremely small population – to the joy of many. Finally there was hope, and today the species remains under full governmental protection.

Native to South-western and Western Australia the remaining populations was taken by three collectors between 1840 and 1879 in the vicinity of King George’s Sound (Albany), but exact locations are unknown. Skeletal material is common in cave deposits between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste. Sub-fossil skeletal specimens have been located in coastal sand dunes between these localities. It is currently restricted to Mt. Gardner promontory in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.

The entire population (consisting of 30-40 mature individuals) as explained above remains inhabits the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve of which they enjoy protection from the local parks wildlife board. While populations are identified as extremely small, mother will give birth to either 1-2 babies every year, normally its 2 babies. Like kangaroos the species has the ability to keep a second embryo in a state of diapause while the first embryo is growing. If the first baby does not go to term, a second baby starts growing right away.

Check out the Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group by clicking this link

Diapause is considered a rare phenomena – especially in kangaroos, although its been witnessed quite a lot over the past few years by European, British and Australian Zoologists. The last diapause event (that I’m aware of) was witnessed at the Taronga Zoological Gardens in Australia. You can read the story >here.< The gestation period for Gilbert’s potoroo is unknown, but is estimated to be similar to the long-nosed potoroo at 38 days.

Since so few are alive today, much of the reproductive cycle for Gilbert’s potoroo remains unknown. However, the main breeding period is thought to be November–December with similar breeding patterns to those of the long-nosed potoroo. Scientists have tried to breed them in captivity, but recent attempts have been unsuccessful, citing diet, incompatibility, and age as possible factors that influenced the lack of reproduction. Reproduction in the wild is thought to be progressing successfully as many females found in the wild are with young.

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Image: Gilbert’s Potoroo. Photographer Mr Dick Walker

In 2001, the Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group was formed to help in the education and public awareness of the potoroo. The group also helps with raising funds for the research and captive-breeding programs for Gilbert’s potoroo. In efforts to protect the remaining population, three Gilbert’s potoroos (one male and two females) were moved to Bald Island in August 2005, where they are free from predation. Since that time, an additional four potoroos have been sent to establish a breeding colony.

THREATS

Fire is the critical threat (present and future) to this species as the Mt. Gardner population is in an area of long unburnt and extremely fire prone vegetation, and a single fire event could potentially wipe out the species (except for the few individuals in captivity and on Bald Island). This species is in the prey size range of both feral cats and foxes, and both are known to exist in the Two Peoples Bay area, thus this species is likely threatened by these predators.

Maxwell et al. (1996) states that the reasons for the decline of the species are unknown. Predation by foxes has probably been significant. Changed fire regimes may have altered habitat and/or exacerbated fox and cat predation by destroying dense cover. Gilbert’s notes record it as “the constant companion” of Quokkas, Setonix brachyurus

Unlike Gilbert’s Potoroo, the Quokka, although declining, persists over much of its pre-settlement range. The difference has not been explained. Maxwell et al. (1996) and Courtenay and Friend (2004), suggest that dieback disease caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi threatens persisting populations by eliminating plant symbionts of hypogeal, mycorrhizal fungi which are the principal food of Gilbert’s Potoroos. Altering vegetation structure and eliminating plants that provide food are direct threats to this species.

For now and based on various accounts, research and up to data documentaries. The species is still in danger. As explained above a single large and sporadic fire within the species habitat – could kill off the entire identified populations, which would be a catastrophe. While there is minimal threat from predators such as foxes and feral cats – this could change. So the need for persistent monitoring is a must. Finally we have disease, with populations being so small at around 30-40, any single disease could like fires wipe the entire species out within a single week.

Within the article above I’ve included various links for your immediate attention and information, as well as a link to the main working group that is helping (and doing all they can) to preserve the species. Furthermore I’ve included a donation link for you to donate to the Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group. While I’m not entirely sure whether you can volunteer, there is a link on the main website below (highlighted: Volunteer Today). Just click the link, follow the instructions and, I’m confident someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Volunteer Today

Thank you for reading, please don’t forget after reading to share this article, and hit the like button too. 

Dr Jose Carlos Depre Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Environmental & Human Science

 

 

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