Check Out these Amazing Bat Facts on National Bat Appreciation Day!

Sound Wave Bat - Urban Hermits

Hi all,

It has been brought to my attention that today, Sunday, April 17th is National Bat Appreciation Day. Bats are often depicted as creepy creatures who exist in a nocturnal world opposite to our own. However, they are fascinating and important parts of the ecosystems they inhabit. Unfortunately, they also face many challenges that threaten their populations. Don’t take it from me, though, check out these amazing bat facts from Bat Conservation International!

Perhaps, someday I’ll pay a visit to Bracken Cave.

Cheers!

 

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NRA-Sponsored NBC Sports Show Kills Elephant for Entertainment

American network, NBC, aired a big-game episode on their sports channel of NRA-sponsored Under Wild Skies that depicted the host shooting an elephant multiple times, and finally between the eyes. As many know, elephants are listed as both a threatened and endangered species under the endangered species act. By supporting the show, NBC, the NRA, and the show’s sponsors have undermined everything that conservationists have accomplished with elephants by promoting the trophy killing of the endangered species on their program.

A backlash started this week after articles on the issue were published by the Huffington Post and Daily Mail UK that brought attention to the fairly new television series. Hundreds of comments can still be seen at NBC’s facebook page. The network remained silent, posting trivial tv agendas in an attempt to disengage the furious viewers. Many have stated that the television show should be canceled or a boycott would ensue, others stating that the network should make amends by donating to an elephant conservation. However, instead of responding in a tasteful manner, the network released a heartless statement with the Los Angeles Times

In response to public outcry, NBC Sports Network has decided not to rebroadcast this particular episode, but will continue to air “Under Wild Skies.”

“We’ve listened to our viewers and will not air that particular episode of ‘Under Wild Skies’ again. We’re also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process because this content should not have aired,” the network said in a statement. “While this form of hunting is legal, we understand that many viewers find it objectionable. As a result we are taking an aggressive approach towards objectionable content within future episodes of ‘Under Wild Skies’ and other series.”

Media has hit a new low. As you can see, the network has taken an unapologetic tone and has dismissed the act. Commercial hunting of the species will be illegal this coming year. NBC is sticking with their argument that the killing was legal at the time, but provide no mention of the moral and ethical considerations.
The host of Under Wild Skies claims in an interview that big-game hunting helps poor areas in Africa. The show’s facebook page has also released photos of what it claims is the elephant meat being delegated to locals in Botswana. One image’s caption states, “Hungry people, who rely on the meat harvested from their villages quota of elephant.”

This quota claim happens to be a reflection of corrupt politics. Quotas are desperately used to entice income from big-game hunters, when other systems for income could be introduced that protect and conserve species. Conservationist Dereck Joubert has argued that,

“Hunting contributed much less to the economy of Botswana than it reported. In fact it added less that 0.27% to the GDP. The Wildlife Management Association (Hunters) said that it added P60M a year ($6M) but at least 80% of that stayed in US or Swiss bank accounts and the number, when we investigated. was a turnover number not a taxable profit number, so in essence hunting in Botswana earned less than one high end eco tourism camp.  In fact one acre of land in prime location under hunting versus under tourism at much more environmental impact generated roughly 1,300% LESS income for government and communities. Less income leads to more poverty and increased poaching.”

At the end of a day, a kill is a kill. Whether this act was done legally or illegally is irrelevant. There is one less elephant in the wild for the sake of entertainment.

Greg Hughes, Senior Vice President, Communications, NBC Sports Group, has responded to viewer complaints with a similarly disconnected message:

Hughes, Greg (NBCUniversal) <greg.hughes@nbcuni.com>

Thanks for writing to us.
We take viewer feedback seriously, and we will not air that particular episode of Under Wild Skies again. We’re also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process.
While this form of hunting is legal, we understand many find it objectionable.
Thanks again for your concern.

You can write your thoughts on NBC social media pages or contact NBC executives and PR personnel directly at their public emails –

jim.bell@nbcuni.com,
Rick.Cordella@nbcuni.com,
Sam.Flood@nbcuni.com,
Greg.Hughes@nbcuni.com,
Mark.Lazarus@nbcuni.com,
Jon.Litner@nbcuni.com,
John.Miller@nbcuni.com,
Jon.Miller@nbcuni.com,
David.Pietrycha@nbcuni.com,
Robert.Simmelkjaer@nbcuni.com,
Gary.Zenkel@nbcuni.com,

Here is a petition to remove the show, already with 47,000 supporters.
On the bright side, it is wonderful to see the general public passionately taking protest. We can all do our part to change things for the better. Pressure in numbers is a powerful tool.

Black Bear Cubs in Action

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has taken in 16 orphaned black bear cubs this year. They can be seen live on the link below having a great time in the center’s newly created Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. The space was made possible by donations and help from supporters. The Center’s President Ed Clark commented that the bears ““…have very strong personalities. Some of them are timid and want to be left alone, others are bossy and want to run the show. We see them wrestling together. They just received a little water bowl earlier this week, and their favorite things seems to be dumping it and then sitting in the bowl.”

Great work! The cubs are truly a joy to observe in all of their adorable and clumsy rough-housing.

Watch them here!
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Screenshot of cubs playing at The Wildlife Center of Virginia

Sources: The Wildlife Center of Virginia, 2013; Cubs on Camera, Connie Stevens, WVTF Radio, 29 May 2013;

Support Elephants – iWorry March

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has created the campaign iWorry, a global effort to bring awareness to protecting elephants. At the current rate of poaching, African Elephants could face extinction in the wild by 2025.

Take a look at the website and join a peaceful march in one of 15 cities around the world on Friday 4th October. You can also show your support by joining the digital march for elephants if you are unable to attend the march!

Jane Goodall and TACARE

Inspiring TED Talk by Jane Goodall, speaking about TACARE, a community-centered conservation and development program that partners with communities near Gombe Stream National Park.

Source: TED Talks, June 2007

Inspiration – We Are Their Heroes by Jim Willis

If you worry that you have not made a difference, you have,
for only those who do not worry about it have not.
If you feel overwhelmed, if the weight of problems is too heavy to bear,
remember it is a shared burden
and the strength of numbers can accomplish much.

If you think society and government are blind,
it only serves to remind that we need to change
one mind at a time, one law after another.
We effect change by cooperation, not by isolation.

If you consider that we cannot save them all,
and what difference does one make?,
you ought to know the joy of the one who is saved.
Mourn those we cannot save, it is a eulogy to their being.
Do not let their loss be in vain.

Be kind to yourself, remember your needs
and those of your family and friends of every species.
If you give everything, what will you have left for yourself,
or for them?
Strive to be happy and healthy. You are needed.
Achieving balance in life is a lifelong struggle.
We who help those who do not have all that they need
should be among the most grateful for what we have.

Be proud of your accomplishments, not your opinions.
The quality of your efforts is more important than the quantity.
Forgive your own deficiencies – sometimes your caring is sufficient.
Everyone can do something, it is up to you to do the thing you can.
A kind word and a gentle touch can change a life.

If anger wells up within you, because people are the problem,
remember your humanity and that people are also the solution.
Concentrate on specific needs, pay attention to the individual –
they make up the whole.
See beyond the unlovable, the unattractive,
the impure and the wounded –
see that their spirit is as deserving as the rest. Help them heal.
Their eyes are windows to their soul
and the mirror of your sincerity.

All species, all beings, share this Earth in a chain of life.
Care more about what makes us alike than what separates us.
Policies, rules and regulations are not infallible.
Apply them judiciously, interpret them wisely.
No decision based purely on money is ever the right one.

Listen to your heart. Sometimes we have to do that which
we are most afraid of.
Be true to yourself and your beliefs.
Family may abandon you,
friends may disappoint you, strangers will ridicule you.
People shun what they do not understand.
Help them to understand – kindly, softly, gently.

Those who do not respect all life are to be pitied.
Often the wrongdoer is as in need of help as his victims.
Forgive, then teach by example.
Educate yourself or you cannot hope to teach others.
No action based in hatred is ever right
and anger drowns out wisdom.

Yours may be a voice crying in the wilderness,
make it a voice to be respected.
Listen more than you talk, be courteous and reliable.
Learn to ask for help. Never waiver from the truth.
Know that it takes a lot of strength to cry
And with every defeat, we learn.

All Creation celebrates that which is in its own best interest.
The Children are our hope – nurture them.
Nature is our legacy – protect it.
The Animals are our brethren – learn from them.

Your rewards will not be material, but they will be meaningful,
and the courage of your convictions can survive anything.
We are small boats cast adrift on a cruel sea,
but someday the tide will turn toward a safe harbor.
No matter how dark the storm clouds,
or deep the pain of heartbreak – never forget:
We are their heroes.

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Source: Jim Willis, We Are Their Heroes, Pieces of My Heart, 2001

Image Source: L.Korany, Flickr, February 2012

My Birthday Present: A Rhino Named Maxwell

I used to laugh at the absurd lyrics of the old time Gayla Peevey tune “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. Well, for my birthday, I got a rhinoceros. It was a gift from my fellow Urban Hermit, Lauren. His name is Maxwell. He is a blind orphan who was rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Fund, a wonderful nonprofit that rescues orphaned and endangered animals in Kenya’s wilderness. I am now one of his adoptive parents and will receive updates on his progress. Here is an enjoyable post. They have a particular focus on the African Elephant, which has unfortunately become increasing threatened recently. Take some time to explore the site and their mission and if you are interested, considering fostering one of these wonderful creatures!

My boy, Maxwell!

Image Source: Cat Y., tripadvisor.ca, Oct 2012

Mark and Lauren Go Places – The Great Lakes Zoological Society

Mark and I visited the Great Lakes Zoological Society last month in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The astounding reptilian, amphibian, and avian rescue is a wonderful family destination and educational center for all ages. The GLZS’ mission is to “promote conservation, the importance of a balanced ecosystem, and how to coexist with wildlife; as well as serving as a rescue and recovery center for injured, neglected, and unwanted reptiles [amphibians, and birds].”

I was truly impressed by the effort to give each animal a beautiful and spacious enclosure. It came as a relief after being accustomed to seeing various snakes, lizards, turtles, and birds in cages too compact for physical and mental health. The resident parrots even sit on large branches in the open, free to move as they please (which isn’t an issue with visitors since they mostly stay on their gyms). Volunteers and interns care for the animals with a passion. They would share their extensive knowledge of the individual animals, often allowing the children to touch the head of a tortoise or the back of a small snake.

The Great Lakes Zoological Society is a 503(c)(3) nonprofit. It offers a variety of sponsorship, summer camp, volunteer, and event opportunities. A must see and a great place to support if you are interested in the welfare of all animals!

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The rescue’s male Crocodile Monitor, Mahuru.

 

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Mahuru basks on his tree!

 

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The resident Greenwing Macaws– Scarlet preens Charlie!

 

Image Source: A. Fulmer, July 2013

Are You Buying Ethical Gifts? Infographic

Below is a pretty powerful infographic about humans taking advantage of animals for materialism. This graphic speaks not only of animal parts, but also covers wood forested for products that are home to various species.

Source: Late Late Gifts, Visually, 19 June 2013;

Kenya – Potential for Upping Poaching Fines x25

Good news for some of the world’s largest endangered land mammals: The Kenyan parliament has approved emergency measures to counter the poaching crisis that should lead to higher penalties for poachers.

“The passing of this bill is a huge victory, it is the strongest message from the Government of Kenya on the commitment to preserve our national heritage. MPs today voted for Kenya to restore her position as a global leader in wildlife conservation,” said Paula Kahumbu, the Executive Director of Kenya-based NGO, WildlifeDirect.

However, Cachu Ganya, made a statement to fellow legislators, “Kenya’s elephants declined from 160,000 in 1960s to 16,000 in 1989 due to poaching. Today Kenya is home to only 38,500 elephants and 1,025 rhinos. These animals are a major tourism attraction and anyone who threatens them is committing economic sabotage and should be treated as such.” This obvious monetary value placed on the animals is one motivator for the increased fines and jail time. Regardless, it is a celebratory event for conservationists. Ganya advocated for fines to raise to $120,000 and up to 15 years in jail, a respective raise by 25 and 7 to the current law.

An elephant or rhino can survive the removal of a tusk or horn, yet most poachers decapitate their victims or chainsaw too close to the skin. Some conservation programs are carefully removing these to eliminating the appeal for poaching.

If you are interested in supporting orphaned elephants and rhinos, please view my previous post about fostering.

Photo by Brent Stirton – “Dehorned to deter poachers, a tame northern white rhino, one of only seven of the subspecies known to survive, grazes under the watch of rangers from Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy.”

Image Source: “Rhino Wars”, National Geographic, March 2013

Source: Jeremy Hance, Mongabay, May 29 2013; Save the Rhino, 2013