Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

June 30, 2013

We Want To Live

Wild Mustangs In Arizona
Picture by John Harwood

Well the uplifting news days are now officially in limbo, as several stories came this morning that have put the fire back in my eyes.
Not everyone, I am sure, is passionate about Horses, some may fear them, others may
have no opinion either way, but then there are those of us, who grew up loving them and would not take kindly to anyone harming them, for any reason.
It is being reported that Apaches in Arizona are asking to be allowed to slaughter 4,000
wild horses on their Reservations because their people cannot afford to feed them and they can make a great deal of money if they do so.
You may remember that New Mexico is about to become the first US State to allow Horse Slaughtering and have a Slaughter House?
The two key factors to consider in this gut-wrenching conflict are:
that many, many horses will be killed for lack of food and they are living on land where the US Government should have no say.
Now, several thoughts come to mind:
Can some or all of these horses be adopted?
Can outsiders donate food for them?
Aside from the obvious ethical considerations in this issue, let us all think for a moment on this?
The proposed slaughter of these animals is to produce meat for humans to eat, an extremely disgusting thought.
What has not been made clear, or undisclosed deliberately, is that some of these Horses were previously used in Horse Racing, ( a blood sport/abomination that makes my blood boil ) and therefore were exposed regularly to various drugs making the human consumption of them not a terribly good idea.
My question is this, as an adamant horse lover, what gives anyone the right to murder all of these beautiful animals?
Yes, they are living and breeding on Native Reservations, which makes the whole issue somewhat cloudy and controversial because Native Reservations are supposed to be Sovereign Nations.
One explanation as to the reason that the Apaches or other Tribes would be so desperate to do this for purely economic reasons and that I have long complained about, is the nearly complete lack of interest by American humanitarians, philanthropists or just plain generous people, to donate or offer assistance to try to relieve some of the absolute poverty that exists on many, if not most, US Reservations.
I can speak with a bit of experience on this issue, having been to many of them personally.
Too many Americans with the means to make a difference, take their money to other Countries, why?
So, dear animal loving people, if we wish to prevent these 4,000 horses and          
many more that will surely follow them in these Western states from being slaughtered
for our next burger, we had better get involved in this and make our move now,
because this ugly issue will not be well resolved for either the animals or the Native people,
unless things change dramatically and soon.
Here are some stories to read, but only if you are able, as they do hurt:
Thousands Of Horses Could Starve On Reservations

June 23, 2013

Not A Time To Die

Jairo Mora Sandoval
Environmentalist Jairo Mora Sandoval
Picture credit: Didiher Chacón, director of WIDECAST

Being young should be a time of exploration, adventure and joyful discovery.
It is a time when many of us are at our highest intellectual, love and friendship peak.
But, one thing that it should never be, however, is a time to die or to be murdered.
This week on an island renowned the world over for its stunning beauty, an innocent young man just doing what he loved, protecting leatherback turtles, was murdered for being in the wrong place and opposing turtle poachers.
This ugly word, poachers, is getting way too much press any more and I for one, am sick of the way that these monsters have chosen to handle those who get in the way of their dirty little money business.
Jairo, an environmentalist and native of this place where he died, was a mere 26 years old and should have had a full lifetime ahead of him in a field where anyone can become a hero, at least as far as those who are saved are concerned.
In recent years, Costa Rica has been rumored to have become a place of potential danger for outsiders and going there for a vacation or a honeymoon could be risky.
The world that we live in today, has a new breed of hired killers and getting caught in their cross hairs, can and has proved fatal, as in Jairo’s case this week.
I have just signed this petition for him, would you please consider doing so as well?
No one should ever have to put their life at risk or be killed, for protecting animals.
And as today is, World Oceans Day, might we all take a moment to say a little prayer for all of those like this beautiful young man, who care so much and put their lives at great risk every day, to try to save Endangered wildlife on our planet?
Vaya Con Dios Jairo, may you go with God.

June 16, 2013

Courage Defined

A 2-3 year old African Mountain Gorilla
Picture credit: Kurt Ackermann

The last time that I talked about a movie, it was a terrific, positive experience for many of you, and you responded to it with glowing comments.
The movie from last night however, will not be the causation for a repeat of that.
I had seen this movie many years ago, when it first came out and was nearly unable to sit through it.
My reaction to the film again last night, was exactly the same.
The movie was " Gorillas in the Mist. "
The person that I share my life with had never seen it and I had recently recorded it.
I warned him before it began, of the content, but he wanted to see it.
So, with complete trepidation on my part, we did.
This story is pretty accurate in many ways, there were a few errors, but they were minor.
When I look at films like this my Anthro education clicks in.
The film for those who may not have seen it, is about Dian Fossey's nearly lifetime of work with Africa's Mountain or Silverback Gorillas.
The scenery is exquisite and the script is tight, but it is the wonderful personal relationships detailed in the movie, including the National Geographic photographer and her personal African guide, that make the otherwise extremely cruel subject of this film, almost bearable to watch.
But unfortunately the film also addressed her uneasy at times, frequently at odds, rocky relationship with her mentor Louis Leakey.
My initial, " over the top, " admiration for Louis Leakey at the beginning of my studies in Anthropology, was abruptly reversed after reading his wife Mary's Autobiography, " Disclosing the Past, " which sheds some rather unflattering light on his " indiscretions. "
The film is a cold, hard look at humanity at its worst and the poachers who will do anything to make money by stealing and/or murdering critically endangered animals,  namely Africa's Mountain Gorillas.
Dian Fossey was one of the most dedicated scientists ever, in her particular field of study and she should be an example to all of us for having the courage to do what was right, what she believed in, irregardless of the consequences.
The cast, the script, (from her book) and cinematography makes this an unforgettable, heart breaking film that is difficult to see, but is a must be told story.
Dian's life was important, what she did for animals was important, she must never be forgotten.
This is not a film for children, or those with tender, delicate hearts.

June 8, 2013

Why Not?

Reprinted with permission
Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

A friend had a picture and a posting this morning on her FB page that sent me to a very dark place.
(The above is not the picture, I was asked to pay $75 for that one and declined.)
This entire country has been ravaged for weeks by weather disasters of nearly biblical proportions, and the death toll has been overwhelming, but what many may not know or hear about, are all the animals who also died.
Seeing pictures of injured or dead animals has always cut right through my heart, but being the insatiable, " I need an answer person" that I have always been, my first thought seeing it was, why?
This did not need to happen.
So, here is my second question, for all of you designers, builders, and contractors, etc.
Why can't we have underground shelters for our animals?
For many of us, our animals are our families too.
I have lived in states from the East Coast to the West Coast, where severe weather events are normal, common, repeated occurrences and we always prepared for them as much as humanly possible.
So, for all of those people who live out in the country, on a ranch or a farm, and have animals, why not a place for them to be safe until the disaster passes?
Oklahoma and many other "tornado alley" states, often are able to give extensive warnings
of impending dangerous weather, so it could be possible that there would be time enough to save some, or even all animals on a farm or ranch?
I know that this sounds bizarre, but why not?

June 2, 2013

Monsters, Murders and Mayhem

The Beautiful African Bush Elephants

This subject has been avoided for as long as possible, for one very good reason, my emotions,  my opinions would not, could not, be considered unbiased in any way.
But when a Google Alert came a few days ago about this issue,  it could not be avoided any longer.
This subject must now be addressed because this time it is personal, it is on my doorstep.
The subject is Elephant Poaching  and the person who has been indicted, is from New Mexico.
This monster bought the Ivory Tusks from an African Poacher and then sold them to a person here in Florida.
Personally, I believe that they should all do hard prison time because they all have blood on their hands.
But neither the time, nor the fine, could ever be enough to satisfy me, for these heinous acts against innocent animals.
This animal in particular, is one of the most beloved in the world, which makes these assaults even more difficult to bear.
The penalties all involved in this incident will receive, that will actually be enforced, are putrid, to say the very least.
In case you are not aware, taking any parts from an Endangered Species, like these African Elephants, is a big time crime and the punishment should be harsh, painful enough to give the beastly persons involved in this sickening ugly market, pause to think at least.
But it is not.
What they are all, including the legal system, doing to not only Elephants, but to Rhinos as well, is besides being criminal, is immoral and despicable as well.
This slaughter will never stop, not until it hurts too much to continue the crime.
These innocents are being murdered for their body parts and the beastly people involved on all sides, care nothing for the bloodied carcasses they leave behind, only for the huge deposits into their bank accounts.
The numbers of animals who have already died in this tragic manner, is beyond staggering, it is nearly impossible to comprehend.
If only Humans had body parts that the animals could exploit.
I firmly believe in Karma and do expect that one day these monsters will meet theirs, but it will be too late for all of the dead animals missing their high priced body parts.
Knowing that the species of which I am part of, can do these things, makes me ashamed to be a Human.
Told you there would be no unbiased commentary on my part.
You can learn more here:

Our Florida Ghost~

 The Florida Ghost Orchid
(picture credit Mike Fournier)
There was a story in the news yesterday, that prompted me to introduce you to a plant here in Florida that is so rare, that people from all over the Globe come here hoping to see it, some even come hoping to steal it.
Few succeed at either.
This deliciously rare and stunning beauty, is called the  Ghost Orchid and it only grows deep in a swamp in South Florida on ancient trees, which makes it extremely difficult to experience in person.
A word of advice, the Ghost will not grow on your front porch in a pot, so unless you can replicate the exact conditions where it lives here, please don't murder it needlessly, it will not survive if you take it home.
A dedicated Florida Wildlife Officer has made the safety and security of the Ghost his mission in life, along with also watching over the most endangered mammal in America, the Florida Panther.
Ask me if would I love to have his job, you bet, in a heart beat.
He is the luckiest person on the Planet, in my opinion.
So now, about the Ghost Orchid, as some of you may know, this web site has a a page that is especially devoted to this spectacular flower/plant.
This page, by the way is the single most visited one on the entire web site!
My hope is that some, or perhaps many of you, will go and read about our Ghost Orchid.
Its stunning beauty has inspired a book, a movie and legions of hunters, followers and admirers from around the world.
There are simply not enough adjectives to describe its beauty, ethereal is often used, my personal choice is breathtaking.
So dear readers, come meet the Ghost Orchid, I promise you will be enraptured by its beauty:
The Ghost Orchid