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WHY ARE WE STILL HUNTING RHINOS FOR | WHEN NO AMOUNT OF FUNDING HAS REDUCED POACHING?

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WHY ARE WE STILL HUNTING RHINO?

Why are foreign and native Africans still trophy hunting Rhinoceros for, when no amount of funding generated from these hunts has actively decreased poaching? Image credit: (Mrs Janice Hull, Limcroma South Africa).

Over five years ago I and a group of dangerous game hunters (DGH’s) were involved within a heated debate relating to the money allegedly generated from rhino hunting. The question I asked (and continue to ask) was: “Why are we still hunting rhino for when the money generated from these hunts doesn’t appear to be having any affect whatsoever on decreasing rhino poaching or increasing conservation efforts and security for African rhinos”? (Image above: Hunter – American Janice Hull).

The answer[s] I received were mixed opinions, abuse, and lies. I aimed this question at a number of professional hunters – (PH’s) working in South Africa, and Namibia most of which were American. While the vast majority of dangerous game hunters stated money raised from hunts was directed back into rhino conservation, I’m still after five years questioning where this money is actually going because rhino poaching is not decreasing whatsoever?

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Image Credit: Trophy hunter Mr Loddie Naymola

Since 2008 poachers have slaughtered a staggering 5,940 Rhinoceros – most of which have been poached within South Africa’s flagship park identified as the Kruger National Park. From the year of 2007 rhino poaching figures began increasing rapidly. A total of 13 rhino were bludgeoned to death in 2007. Meanwhile in 2009 South Africa lost a further 122 rhinos (due to poaching).

However come 2011 we really began to see poaching figures rise, come the end of December 2011 a whopping 448 rhinos had been slaughtered by poachers to fuel the Asian demand for pseudo rhino horn medicine. Come 2013 figures shot through the roof resulting in some 1,003 rhinos poached stated the Department of Environmental Affairs come 2013 December end. Then the largest stats were reported back in 2014 of which South Africa lost some 1,215 Rhinoceros to poachers. Yet ‘hunting revenue is preserving our ionic species’?.

Unfortunately at some point from 2014-2016 the Department of Environmental Affairs Minster Honorable Edna Molewa placed a complete ban on the public reporting of any rhino poaching figures, there was no reason as to why this ban was implemented, of which to date still remains in place. Coincidentally (2015’s poaching statistics) had decreased somewhat – of which come December 2015 some 1,175 rhinos had ‘allegedly been poached’. Isn’t that coincidental, a blanket ban on poaching figures is ordered, then come the next year a decrease is seen!.

SOURCE: POACHING STATISTICS.

The SOUTH AFRICAN DEFENCE WEB stated back in January 2016 that a ‘lack of rhino poaching information was negatively affecting anti poaching’. However despite the governmental blackout on rhino poaching incidents numerous organisations such as ‘Stop Rhino Poaching  and ‘Outraged South African Citizens against Poaching’ had reported via media, press and anti poaching reports a small rhino poaching decline.

However both of these organisations didn’t obtain their reports from the government, or did they?. So last years poaching stats could indeed be higher than what has been stated in the public domain. Furthermore both Facebook/Online groups/NGO’s share there statistics openly. So in all honesty there is no evidence whatsoever to prove a poaching decline from 2015 has occurred. Moreover and as explained – I myself find it awfully suspicious that since the 2015 poaching report blackout by the South African government – poaching stats just coincidentally decrease like that?.

Elise Daffue whom ‘allegedly runs some form of rhino intelligence group’ (on Facebook – identified as Stop Rhino Poaching), and not in the actual field, stated: “The drop in kills is testimony to the huge effort being made on the enforcement side. Environment Asset Protection strategies have been formulated and implemented over the past three years, guiding the strategic and operational plans nationally – from the ranger in the bush who detects the spoor to the prosecutor who fights that bail is denied. Keeping the numbers down depends entirely on good field work and reserve security, good investigations and good convictions”

While Elise Daffue has stated there was a drop in rhino poaching due to a “huge effort being made on the enforcement side” there remains no evidence whatsoever proving there has been a decline in rhino poaching from 2014-2015. Moreover if there is evidence where has this data come from?. Furthermore whenever we see hunters and ‘animal lovers mingling together’, regardless of what you state your organisation is and does – alarm bells begin ringing, especially coming close to the next CoP summit.

The Founder of Stop Rhino Poaching is friends with a hunter identified as Gustav Collins who runs the Mattaniah Game Reserve Furthermore Elise Daffue is also associated with the individual known as Simon James Naylor who is the Conservation Manager for Phinda Private Game Reserve of which has connections to various hunting organisations and the (WWF) that supports sustainable hunting of Rhinoceros within South Africa and Namibia. Finally (among many others) we have Mr Mark Lautenbach who works as a Specialist Freelance Guide at Ukuthula Lodge. Elise Daffue founder of Stop Rhino Poaching is also friends with a Department of Environmental Affairs worker, and numerous other governmental bodies, police and hunters.

While the above details may not seem overly important, when we’re trying to locate data on hunting statistics, money generated from these activities and more, suspicions are raised when we locate so called professional organisations that are connected to numerous hunting organisations; and institutions such as ‘petting farms’ I.e Ukutala Lodge that has connections with the canned hunting industry and, has featured in a (Blood Lion documentary).

So as one can see it all becomes rather confusing when all we want is upfront and honest answers, however when we ask questions and later find out there are numerous connections to the hunting and possibly ‘pseudo hunting trade’ will we even obtain a serious, straightforward and honest answer? When we’re lied to by hunters, how can we possibly trust Non-Governmental Organisations that are aligned to the very people whom are lying, and are hunting our rhinos while pretending to be so called conservationists? Moreover we (the organisation) do not believe there has been any decline whatsoever relating to rhino poaching. We do though believe that this so called ‘decline may be playing a role in this months CoP17 Summit’ relating to rhino horn legislation. 

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Image Credit: European trophy hunter, Mr Dennis Schemmel

Back in July 2016 it was reported that Rhinoceros poaching was finally without a doubt at ‘tipping point’. South Africa has seen the largest poaching rates recorded at some 72% from 2011-2015. Namibia recorded a loss of 10.8% from 2012-2015. Zimbabwe recorded a loss of 3.1% from 2012-2015. Kenya has recorded a loss of 4.4% from 2012-2015. Finally ‘other African range states mainly in Central Africa’ recorded a loss of 2.5% from 2012-2015.

While its been reported that some 25,000 Rhinoceros remain on the African continent – a depressing near six thousand have been poached all over the continent from 2012-2015. Yet hunting revenue from one of Africa’s most expensive game animals is allegedly reducing poaching? How is this possible, when we’ve lost so many rhinos, and reports from the Global Initiative have confirmed ‘rhinos are at tipping point’.?  Furthermore how can the hunting community continue to state that revenue from rhino hunting is helping to secure the rhinos future when 1. It clearly isn’t due to poaching statistics increasing, and 2. The majority of hunters today are now supporting an international rhino horn trade ban lift?

The Global Initiative stated: “Dozens more rhino have been shot in so-called “pseudo-hunts”. Across Europe, castles and museums have been raided by criminal gangs in search of rhino horn trophies. And in the United States, businessmen, antique dealers – even a former rodeo star and a university professor – have been implicated in the illicit trade”. Driven by seemingly insatiable demand in Southeast Asia and China, rhino horn has become a black market commodity rivalling gold and platinum in value.

SOURCE: GLOBAL INITIATIVE.

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Image: Female rhino hunter, origin of hunter unknown and name. South Africa?

To date there has been very little forthcoming information in relation to revenue generated from African rhino hunts, and where exactly this hunting money is going. Furthermore with rhino poaching still increasing, and tipping points now recorded by ‘various trusted organisations’ the question must now be raised why are we still hunting Rhinoceros?

From the 1940’s tiger hunting was common among many international and local tourists in India. However so too was tiger poaching. It was alleged that revenue from tiger hunting was actually helping to preserve the tiger species and other mammals too. Unfortunately this turned out to be complete codswallop. Then in 1973, the Indian government finally under the orders of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi banned tiger hunting due to so many tigers being poached – and legally hunted at the same time. Had Prime Minister Indira Gandhi not instigated ‘Project Tiger’, the tiger would have gone extinct way back in the 1970’s.

SOURCE: PROJECT TIGER.

In the last 50 years the tiger population in Asia has plummeted from 100,000 to about 5,000. The number of tigers is dangerously low, and the conservation of the world’s remaining tigers is of global concern. Now, in this volume, 40 world authorities on tigers from Asia, Europe, and North America have summarized and identified the management, conservation, and research needs for this endangered species. Before Project Tiger was implemented tiger populations were being hammered. The same identical hunting and poaching behavior before Project Tiger can now be witnessed in Africa – primarily in South Africa where rhinos are also being hammered both by hunters, poachers and pseudo hunters. Does that ring alarm bells among the many FAKE NGO’S out there?

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa undertook various searches relating to rhino hunting and revenue generated from these hunts within South Africa. What we found was from 2005-2015 a total of 330 ‘White Rhinoceros’ had been legally hunted from 2005-2015. The minimum hunting price was exactly $50,000(USD). While the maximum hunting price was exactly $150,000(USD). It was found that from 2005-2015 and based on the assumption these were (white rhino hunts only) and, taking into consideration the minimum price first. Revenue generated from rhino hunting at the price of $50,000(USD) resulted in an estimated total $181,500,000 million – that’s $181 million(USD) raised from hunting. Meanwhile, and taking into consideration the highest price (being $150,000(USD) a total of $554,500,000 million was generated.

While we cannot place these two equations together and provide a factual sum because we don’t know how many rhinos were legally hunted at each individual price, the sheer fact that millions of dollars has been generated from 2005-2015 should be enough to explain that something isn’t quite right here. Furthermore these figures are based on the assumption these were white rhino hunts,

MINIMUM HUNTING PRICE: 2005-2015 = $181,500,000 million(USD)

MAXIMUM HUNTING PRICE: 2005-2015 = $554,500,000 million(USD)

SOURCE: HUNTING REVENUE.

SOURCE: REPORT TROPHY HUNTING.

To date (and as you can see within the sourced links above) there still hasn’t been a single reliable report that confirms just how much money is being made from trophy hunting in South Africa. The only so called reliable report (which is about as reliable as a chocolate teapot) and, being the only report to surface thus far stated that $200 million(USD) was generated from the years of 2010-2011 (in regards to all South African trophy hunts)? Who number crunched these figures, who even dared to come up with such an absurd low revenue income? I would also like to remind hunting organisations, just because you don’t have to tell us what you’re making, we can contact other organisations/institutions, locate prices, we can phone and email. Eventually we’ll find the truth!

Now either our expert eyes and our mathematical friends are missing something here, or journalists media and the pro trade lobby are forgetting that despite hunting revenue being made pubic. Environmental Scientists can research CITES trophy hunting statistics, then locate the common maximum and minimum price, and the number of rhino trophy heads exported/imported. So as one can read above just from the years of (2005-2015 – millions was made just from Rhinoceros hunting). Moreover who ever came up with the 2010-2011 sum of $200 million USD clearly is missing a lot of money off here, and needs to undertake a mathematical course too?

Rhinoceros hunting is by far the biggest money maker within the hunting business (most of this money is made in South Africa which hosts the largest rhino populations on the planet). Furthermore it just seems too coincidental that from 2010-2011 literally every hunting organisation that’s promoting/advertising rhino hunts has mysteriously removed their prices.

Trophy hunting of rhino is strictly regulated. Every year a total of five (black rhino) can legally be hunted within each of Namibia and South Africa, which totals to a maximum of (ten) per year – five per country. Furthermore in South Africa and Namibia one white rhino can be hunted by one hunter per year – that’s one rhino per hunter every year. Unfortunately there remains no further hunting revenue and data from the years of 2014. Its been estimated by the National Geographic based on the United States Fish and Wildlife report that the United States imported a total of 328 white rhino trophies from South Africa from the years of 2005-2014. Meanwhile a total of 7 white rhino were hunted and subsequently imported to the United States from Namibia from the years of 2005-2014.

SOURCE: NAT GEO HUNTING DATA.

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Image Credit: Rhino hunter Alexander Tseytlin

Black rhino hunts have provoked much controversy over the past five years mainly because black rhinos are actually listed as (critically endangered), hence why only five black rhinos can be hunted per year in South Africa and Namibia. Since 1996-2011 the species has been listed as near extinct on the International Union for the Conservation of Natures Red List. Fortunately due to ‘private farming conservation efforts (not wild efforts) the species has allegedly and gradually increased (primarily due to hunting?)’. Both private and wild populations are believed to be increasing within South Africa and Namibia placing the total species population count from 2010 at 4,880 black rhinos.

SOURCE: IUCN BLACK RHINO.

The only reports that we ourselves can offer in regards to black rhino trophy is that of media and press reports that have documented on large scale bidding for black rhino hunts. In January 2014, Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 for a permit to hunt and kill a black rhino in Namibia (Source: Corey Knowlton). Back in June 2016 Namibia offered up three of its black rhinos to trophy hunters. While the price has not been documented its most likely be in the region of just over $1 million(USD) for the three Black Rhinoceros (Source: Namibia black rhino hunt).

Meanwhile back in 1996 a game rancher named John Hume paid about $200,000 for three pairs of endangered black rhinos from the wildlife department of the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Among them was a male who would come to be called “Number 65,” and whose death would play a central role in the debate about conservation.

When the black rhino bull arrived, Hume’s farm manager — a burly Zimbabwean named Geoff York whose typical mode of dress is army boots and a pair of purple shorts — tranquilized him, clipped two notches in his left ear and two in the right, and gave him a number: 65. Mr John Hume later picked Mr Peter Thormahlen to organize the killing of ‘number 65’. The price was set at a $25,000 deposit on a $150,000 fee for a seven-day hunt.

Most of that would go to John Hume – the very man that is today advocating for an international legalized trade in rhino horn and has connections to a wide number of organisations such as, WWF, IUCN, CITES, The Department of Environmental Affairs and numerous other figures. Then on July 23rd 2005 Thormahlen and his client with John Hume tagging along proceeded on foot. Suddenly the rhino noticed them and rose from the dirt. The client pulled the trigger, and the first bullet pierced Number 65’s skull. The rhino, still standing, turned. A second bullet hit, and the rhino dropped dead. (Source: John Hume Rhino Hunt).

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Source: The Sacrifice, please click the source tag for more info

As you can read there is a staggering amount of money parting hands to hunt both black and white rhino. Yet poaching is still skyrocketing? South Africa has lost from 2008 almost 6,000 rhinos to poachers. Back in 2014 Namibia lost a total of 24 rhinos to poaching, then come 2015 a whopping 60 rhinos were poached. (Source: Poaching stats Namibia).

So the question still remains just what exactly is all this money going towards, can each professional hunting organisation prove to me, my organisation and the public that the money generated from rhino hunting is indeed being used to fund anti poaching operations, security, conservation, education, awareness and horn poisoning? (Etc).

While I’ve been extremely silent on this issue too since 2011 I’m going to make it pubic now. I dislike the fact that a ‘prominent South African game hunter’ is involved with the Rhino Orphanage. Back in 2011 we (the organisation) were going to submit funding for scales and equipment, however when running a trace on whom ran the main website, down to a trace on that individuals Facebook page, and more we later discovered a ‘silent partner’ that is hunting many of the big five..

..So who do we trust when it comes to facts and figures? How can we trust anyone that is stating hunting is indeed increasing rhino numbers when literally every individual and organisation are in someway aligned to one another in South Africa and over the borders? Can the Rhino Orphanage and its ‘affiliate’s’ also prove that every single rhino that’s been saved has been released back into a reserve, and not hunted for sport that clearly from this entire document has proved – no amount of hunting whatsoever is increasing rhino populations!

Hunting operations are indeed expensive. While the price of a hunt may indeed seem high. One also has to take into consideration what the farmer and/or professional hunter has to pay for too. Upkeep of land, maintenance of vehicles and buildings, fuel, service charges for gas, electricity, water, and rent Etc, food and beverages for the visiting hunters, guest house uses, damages to guest houses, travel, firearms (among many other bills). Then of course comes anti poaching being the last bill. Some of this expense can be viewed below.

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Image: Hunting Charges (Source: IFAW)

While we know that Rhinoceros trophy hunting is indeed expensive, poaching is unfortunately still increasing in various African countries, please do check the sourced links out above, and read that data carefully. The image above with source proves that no big five farmer is taking every single dollar or euro that’s advertises rhino hunting on their site or allows rhino hunting on their property.

So the question remains why are we still hunting rhino for? The question I’ve answered. Rhino hunting is nothing more than a overpaid sport that does nothing whatsoever for conservation and, is not under any circumstances whatsoever contributing to decreasing poaching. All these millions if not billions being made yet here we are still seeing rhinos poached. Finally, and the very best question of them all. If hunting revenue from rhino hunts is not decreasing poaching, how the hell is a so called sustainable rhino horn trade going to decrease poaching? Same money – same prices – going nowhere!

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 and Human Scientist. 

 

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MASSACRE IN MOROCCO.

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MASSACRE IN MOROCCO

From December 2015 to March 2016 Moroccan governmental officials within the city of Ksar el-Kebir have slaughtered many thousands of stray dogs with single or multiple shots to the head and body using live rounds. Some media and press reports have stated that the slaughter only went on for one day during December 2016, others state two days.

Fortunately International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa hosts a total of eighteen environmental activists within the African country, all of which have confirmed the slaughter has been ongoing from December 2015 and, is still ongoing today September 2016. However for now the cull is mostly over.

The nighttime killings have decreased significantly since the media began publishing on the mass culling of stray dogs and cats, and partially due to many street dogs now wiped clean off the streets of Ksar el-Kebir and within other Moroccan cities such as the Medina quarter – until next year of course.

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Image: One of many dogs killed by men gunmen. 

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has learnt that the French Government in Europe are partially supporting the annual culling operation identified as ‘Street Animal Welfare’, although there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of welfare practiced here.

Sources have explained to us that most if not all of the local street dogs were shot using live rounds by inexperienced gunmen on the back of jeeps or 4×4’s. Moreover sources within the Moroccan capital of Rabat stated that poisons had been laid down to kill street dogs and cats too. The deaths were reported as horrific and nowhere near humane!

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Image: Moroccan teenager showing love and compassion to a stray dog.  

From December to date most of the killings have occurred at night which is when the vast majority of street dogs are active. (I.A.R.F.A) learnt that the Moroccan Government ordered the killings due to concerns of ‘rabies’ within the country, and because of an influx of tourists this year too. The Rabat capital ordered dog wardens to pin posters up relating to rabies, as well as hand them out to the locals (as can be seen below).

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Image: Rabies info in French and Arabic. 

The Ksar El Kebir Government ordered this years killings on the 22nd March 2016, although there is much evidence to show the killings began in December 2015. Nonetheless many dogs were slaughtered this year prompting the global population of animal lovers to kick up a wild frenzy, and why should’t they? Morocco isn’t learning here from its mistakes, instead every year they order inexperienced gunmen at nighttime to shoot hundreds of dogs a night (during the dated culling period).

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Image: Dead dogs dumped onto the back of a 4×4 in Morocco.

Local authorities, in an ironic attempt to curb the number of starving canines, are sought to kill dogs, adults and puppies alike. These actions are as inhuman as they are expensive for the taxpayers. What’s more, there are numerous studies and expert assessments available from the best international specialists in public health, which demonstrate that this approach is totally inefficient. However despite the best efforts of everyone trying to halt this massacre – the bloody slaughter continued.

Its been estimated that in the Moroccan town of Casablanca, some 15,000+ street dogs are killed every-year. So one would kind of think that instead of killing stray dogs the authorities would at least try to humanly control the increasing stray dog population and, slow any rabies virus from emerging, seemingly not, every year more and more dogs are massacred in the most brutal and barbaric manners you could think of.

Morocco is a predominantly French Muslim/Muslim/Islamic African country of which the Holy Quran states the following in relation to animals that share the same quarters as us, socialize with us, and roam with us (Etc.):

“There is not an animal (that lives) on the Earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities, like you.” (Sura 13 Aya 15).

Furthermore another interesting quote from the Holy Quran is that about ‘mistreatment of animals’. The Holy Quran states the following:

“It is related from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah, once saw a donkey which had been branded on its face and he said, “May Allah curse the one who branded it.” (Muslim)”

While I’m not going to become embroiled within some religious debate, I do find it grossly contradictory that so called ‘Muslims that follow the holy scriptures of the Quran would then violate that holy book or anyone of the alleged recited peaceful verses’?

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Image: Hundreds of dogs shot dead violating the Quran’s scripture. 

The majority of the killings took place in Ksar-el-kebir of which some 110,000 people inhabit. Furthermore about 160km’s away from ksar-el-kebir in Rabut public workers took to the streets killing more dogs.

Further, in Marrakech, local city authorities opted for the poisoning as procedure. Same for Salé, Skhirat Kenitra [Rabat-Salé-Kenitra] and Nador [Oriental Region] says Loubna El Mourabite Kettani, a militant of the animal cause, adding that poisoning can affect even the dogs that have owners, as the poisoned bait is scattered randomly in neighborhoods.

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa, The World Health Organisation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the International Alliance for Rabies Control ‘strictly advises’ local authorities worldwide to sterilize and vaccinate dogs in order to reduce their population and combat rabies. However as you can see every year throughout various Moroccan cites and towns the local authorities opt for killing dogs at point blank range, with live rounds or just poison baits, however things may be on the turn (please keep reading).

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Image: Muslim’s do love dogs, sadly ‘a minority don’t’.

Zineb Bouchikhi, ONSSA’s communications officer, said that: “stray dogs that do not have owners, given the danger they pose to public health, are eliminated by local authorities as part of the national strategy against rabies. Dogs which have owners, in turn, are vaccinated annually by ONSSA officers in rural and peri-urban areas. In urban areas, private veterinarians are in charge of this operation.”

In the period from 2010 to 2015, an average of 90 000 owned dogs were vaccinated by the veterinary services of ONSSA in different regions of Morocco. However, there are no statistics on stray dogs slaughtered by local authorities each year. (How coincidental is that?).

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa, local and international charitable organisations believe in capture, vaccinate, sterilize, de-worm and relax in the area of origin, is the best scientific, ethical and sustainable approach to preserve human and animal health. Shooting dogs though is not controlling the problem which is clear to see due to annual shootings every year.

Furthermore the cost of shooting dogs will heavily outweigh the cost of vaccination. Concerning-ly due to the press and media picking up on these mass and brutally horrific culls it will only bring a bad name to Morocco thus reducing tourism, finance, increasing poverty, unemployment and crime.

Trap: (Trap, neuter and release) is practiced in India, Turkey, America and Canada and has enabled eradication of rabies in a few years. In Morocco, including Essaouira and Taghazout, similar experiments were carried out. These are examples to generalize nationally. So if (TNR) works why are the local authorities still shooting dogs dead at some 15,000-25,000 a year annually?

Half of the domestic dogs and strays stay in residential areas, close to the forest or the sea. Meanwhile they rule the streets in the night finding food near the garbage containers or outside houses in the suburbs. In the early morning they leave to find a more calm place to sleep, usually in the forest. Strays mostly shy away from humans who use to throw stones at them as a protection.

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Image: A watch dog in Sekkala.

Concluding I can state now: An initiative has been launched as of [Wed 30 Mar 2016] in Rabat jointly by RAPAD and Adan association in collaboration with municipal councilors of Rabat for the creation of a pilot project for the benefit of canine and feline stray populations. The associations of the capital [Rabat] aspire to make it a successful alternative experience to convince both the state government departments and elected officials to abandon slaughter.

For now though I’ll leave you with this video as a shocking reminder to the ongoing crisis in the African country of Morocco. We (the organisation) hope to never see such a sickening image of barbaric brutality again.

Dr Jose Carlos Depre 

Chief Executive Officer | Director 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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