Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

July 29, 2015

A Horror of a Human

Cecil the beloved Lion in Africa
Picture credit: Unknown

What can be going on in the deranged, twisted mind of this absolute monster?
This gutless Dentist, Walter Palmer, from Minnesota not only finds pleasure in killing, but is also a repeat offender.
His latest victim, that he reportedly paid $55,000 to hunt, was a much beloved Lion and local celebrity at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Africa.
These are the words of the TV News story, not mine:
 “This man lured the Lion out of the safety of a sanctuary, then shot him with a crossbow and after tracking him for more than a day,  finished him off and skinned him.”

The beautiful black-maned Lion called Cecil, was quite accustomed to human interaction, so likely felt no danger, or fear.
He was basically a pet to the world, a hero, a star to be adored.
He could not have understood that he was about to be killed and to be hung on a wall, the wall of a sinister, vile human.
They say that Cecil had cubs and that they will be killed by which other Lion is next in line for dominance of the Pride.
My hope is if that some group will step up/in to remove them to a safe place, before that is allowed to occur.
As I write these terrible words to you, my chest is tight and I can barely breathe.
And if all of this was not enough of a horror, this is not the first time for this coward to murder and lie.
In 2008, this same monster also killed a black bear and lied after doing just about the same thing, he did to Cecil, hunting, killing, and lying.
Or, hunting, killing, lying, then posing and smiling.
There is valid concern, that the backlash from his vile acts, may not end just his business, but that someone in the area may take this rage/anger towards him one step further.
To quote ABC and others,  ” He has become the most hated man on the internet.”
Hearing the story and the expected Global shock, anguish, and repulsion, makes this only a tiny bit easier to bear.
What joy, what pleasure, can you Mr. Palmer, find in this despicable kind of behavior?
It is only my opinion, but it seems that some of our species have never really evolved from the hunter-gather stage and feel compelled by a dark/deep need to regularly hunt and kill a wild animal.
The difference is, this was not a wild animal, but a much adored and loved “pet.”
How much of a challenge could there have been in basically killing something that had no instincts for survival?
Dear Doctor Palmer, a Global wish for you, is the same end to your life, that you gave this beautiful, remarkable, beloved creature, because you truly are a Horror of a Human.
Places to learn more:
Walter Palmer
Cecil the lion’s killer revealed as American dentist
American Hunter Killed Cecil, Beloved Lion That Was Lured Out of Its Sanctuary
Cecil the lion’s killer in hiding as global anger reaches Minnesota hometown
Zimbabwean officials: American man wanted in killing of Cecil the lion

July 22, 2015

Wiley’s Whims!

Our magnificent Florida Panther
Photo credit:
Florida Panther page

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a whim is:
” a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind.”

Lately, it appears that Nick Wiley is having a turn of the mind, or rethinking many things, including, Panthers, Black Bears, to hunt or not to hunt and the true core meaning of the agency that he is the head of,  the  FWC,  or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
If you are Nick Wiley, rethinking can and does mean many things.
He has recently had secret meetings without other consul, other than that of a South Florida Rancher named Liesa Priddy, who was appointed to the Commission by Governor Scott in 2012 for the usual 5 year term, and together they decided that a new plan should be put in place for what until now has been the most critically Endangered Mammal in the country and who also happens to be our State Mammal, the Florida Panther.
The reaction to the news of the covert meeting between these two and their new plan, prompted an instant state-wide outrage and further discussion was put off until September.
For the past 20-30 years, people and groups all over this state have done everything to save and protect and preserve this beautiful animal and the idea of reducing, changing or even God Forbid, eliminating any/all protections for them, is making Floridians see red, blood-red.
If you would like to talk to Nick about his new plan for the Florida Panther, you can reach him at:
(850) 488-4676

Many are fearing that the fate of the Panther may soon follow the same path as the recently doomed and set to be hunted in October, Florida Black Bear.
I got chills when I read a remark by Wiley, in one of the stories below, saying that they will not be hunting the Panther, they may just need to shoot one occasionally.
Just three short years ago, this same man swore on the phone to me, after I called raising hell over the 8 Black Bears that had been killed in Orlando when stupid people, did stupid things, that they would never be hunted!
Right now, the news and reaction to Wiley’s new plan, has been as expected, causing many to now question just who he has become and if the welfare of the states wildlife really are still his top priority.
When the leader of a large Government Agency such as this, has secret/covert meetings and makes decisions with no inclusion of those who know more about the subject, it is not a very good sign.
Has Wiley decided to take his life in a new direction and is he preparing himself for the day when he will leave the Agency and go into business with those whose opinions he clearly seems to value so much right now?
What ever his future may hold, right now what worries those of us here who truly do love and respect Florida’s Wildlife, the biggest question is, does Nick Wiley need to find employment elsewhere?
At this moment, many in Florida would give a resounding YES to that question because the lives of our precious wildlife here should NOT be subject to Wiley’s Whims!
Places to learn more:
Florida panthers better learn to duck
FWC Revisits Florida Panther Recovery Plan
Does Florida have enough panthers?
Improving Prospects for Florida’s Panthers
Florida Panthers Are Plentiful Enough, State Officials Say
Over scientists’ objections, rancher pushes panther policy
State suggests review of Florida panther status

July 21, 2015

Armadillo Awareness

A Nine-banded armadillo in the green swamp in Central Florida
Picture credit: http://www.birdphotos.com

On our local ABC News this morning, came a story that sent shivers down my spine, once again.
Unless you live in the Southwest or Florida, you may have never heard of, or seen an Armadillo.
The images on TV this morning were both familiar and disturbing, they were of Armadillos, the affected victims,along with the fact that there have been 9 new cases of Leprosy reported here in the Orlando area in just the past six months.
Normal they said, was 10 per year, so think we may be in trouble here…
I have known about this disease since 1990, when we went on Vacation to Oahu.
We had asked about going over to Molokai and several people at our Hotel said, that it once was the Island of Lepers, and we probably should not go.
Not knowing anything about the disease or the history of the Island, we decided not to go.
It seemed that at that time in 1990, the stigma had remained there, somewhat, although the disease was not officially any longer considered a threat.
In fact, it had been Globally eradicated by that time, it had been reported.
Recently I wrote about the wonderful Priest, Father Damien, who went to Molokai and devoted his life to caring for those afflicted with Leprosy before eventually succumbing to the disease:https://tahtonka.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/father-damien-the-apostle-of-the-lepers/
Leprosy is transferred by bacteria, and at the present time, only two life forms carry it, Humans and Armadillos.
I learned today, that when Armadillos came to this Continent, they did not carry the disease, from which I would deduce, that we gave it to them.
We are still in the process of questioning, whether or not pets can contract the disease from being on the same land as Armadillos.
Have made calls to the CDC and several other agencies this morning, as well as to the Dr. mentioned in the story.
When conclusive feedback is received, it will be put in another posting, as I do not wish to delay this vital/critical information for those of you who are living in this area,  as we are, with Armadillos, while waiting…
Places to learn more:

Yes, You Can Get Leprosy From an Armadillo
Floridians urged to avoid leprosy-infected armadillos
Experts warn Floridians to steer clear of armadillos to avoid leprosy exposure
Leprosy cases on rise in Florida


July 16, 2015

Holding on~

miamibluemichellewisnieski                schaus22
A Miami Blue Butterfly                                                        A Schaus Swallowtail Butterfly
Photo credit: FWC/M.Wisnieski                                        Photo credit: FWS

At first glance this morning, the first story  below,  gave rise to a tiny hope for two critically endangered, if not already extinct Florida Butterflies, but alas, upon reading it, the two that I had been hoping this pertained to, were not even mentioned in it.
So, is this good news  nonetheless, absolutely.
South Florida is at long last, cutting way back/down on its use of pesticides in controlling mosquitos.
But we need to do it here, there and everywhere and always, from this day forward, if we hope to continue to see the entire range of pollinators, amphibians and countless other fragile and environmentally susceptible creatures in Florida.
The two aforementioned Butterflies, The Miami Blue   and  The Schaus Swallowtail are both teetering on extinction, thanks to countless decades of failure to understand, respect and appreciate the absolutely devastating effect that pesticides have on all Insects, all Humans, everything.
The excessive Global overuse of Pesticides for whatever purpose, will in the end, end us all.
We simply must stop their use, as every living thing on our planet, is depending on it.
These lethal toxins are being used by any and all, for every problem, with no thought or consideration,  to their Global long-term effects.
Other than the obvious deleterious effect of the pesticides, a new marauder, the invasive Iguana,which is definitely, not indigenous, has been  personally killing off the Miami Blue Butterflies, by eating the very plants  that they lay their eggs on, the gray nickerbean, etc.,  on their last known refuge on Bahia Honda, in the Keys.
We had seen these out of control creatures walking the streets of Miami on each of our trips down to the Keys.

*Before completing this posting, I needed to confirm the status of the Miami Blue, and after a quick call to UF and speaking with Dr. Jaret Daniels, it is my great joy to relay his message that yes, the Miami Blue is still alive and living at the Key West National Refuge.

So, thankfully, it would seem, that these two Butterflies are indeed, still holding on.
Places to learn more:
Mosquito spraying in South Florida scaled back to protect rare butterflies
Butterfly Monitoring
Invaders in Paradise
Schaus Swallowtail Emergency
Threatened butterfly vanishes from Florida refuge
The ant, the butterfly and their chemical warfare with an oregano plant

July 13, 2015

Marjory, Miccosukees and Memories

Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1983, canoeing with a Miccosukee Tribal member
at the Miccosukee Cultural Center in the Everglades, near Forty mile Bend.
Photo credit: Florida State Archives

Our beloved Everglades are about to be put under siege and attack once again from greedy, selfish developers and oil mongers.
After the myriad of deceitful, destructive insults that have been inflicted on one of the most incredibly beautiful places in the entire state of Florida, causing frequently irreparable harm, to the fragile wildlife and environment, now they want to drill for oil in the Everglades.
At some point the secret, silent, pay offs to all who seek to make this happen, will stop as the money runs out, and when there is nothing left here but sand, what will it all mean?
The Everglades Ecosystem and its surrounding area are so critical, to so many species of animals and plants, that it is hard to conceive in advance, the level and depth of damage that this most recent proposal can and will bring with it to the love of Marjory’s life.
I for one, am glad that she is not alive to see what soon may become of what she fought most of her life to preserve and protect.
As expected, Audubon of Florida and numerous concerned individuals and Environmental groups are outraged and alarmed at what could happen here.
The gist of this latest assault on the pristine Everglades is this:
The Kanter family has owned a great deal of land, namely 20,000 acres, in this area for more than 50 years and had thought to build a city there one day, but, that did not come to fruition.
This beautiful place remained quietly unmolested until just recently, when a great deal of interest and money suddenly began  swirling around the Everglades and this powerful Real Estate family, who stand to make a great deal of money either way.
If they sell the land to Florida, they make money, if they drill they make money.
Either way they win and Florida, our fragile wildlife and the Everglades Ecosystem loses, big time!
It is an ironic tragedy, that one of the reference places listed below comes from the very same paper where Marjory and her father both once worked, the Miami Herald.

Places to learn more:
Oil well proposed for Broward Everglades
Search for Everglades oil could move near Broward suburbs
Miami firm applies to drill for oil in Everglades
The Everglades Ecosystem
Marjory Stoneman Douglas

July 6, 2015

A Sturgeon Warning

An Ancient Gulf Sturgeon
Photo credit: USFWS

This will be quite brief/abrupt and to the point.
We had an unnecessary tragedy here over the Holiday weekend.
A 5-year-old child was killed by a Gulf Sturgeon jumping into the boat she and her family were in.
It happened on the Suwannee River near Tallahassee in the Florida Panhandle.
For those of you who have been here for a while, you are probably aware of my personal website:
I only mention it because for quite a few years now, I have been writing about the possibility of this very event happening and warning people about it:

There are signs in the area that tell those who wish to go out on the River about the Gulf  Sturgeon and the potential dangers that exist there.
Either these people were not from the area, or perhaps may not have seen the Warning signs.
Regardless, a child is gone and her mother and brother are in the hospital.
This is a VERY BIG fish and when and if, it lands in your boat, or God forbid on you, the result will most certainly be tragic, as it was in this case.
Please take a look at the Sturgeon page above, if you are thinking of boating in this most beautiful place.
This is the time when the fish are most active and as our local news pointed out, the River was low, making it even more likely  to occur.

My prayers are with this family, my hope is that this never has to happen again.
Please, please, stay safe whenever you are visiting, vacationing, or just out with your family having fun in a new area.
When ever you are in a new or unfamiliar place, always do ask questions of those who are there to protect you,  or those who may already be there,  about local safety precautions.
Even one child is too many to lose to such a terrible accident.
This Ancient Fish has no idea that he can harm us, he is just doing what he and his Ancestors have always done on the Suwannee River.
Places to learn more:
Leaping Sturgeon strikes 5-year-old on Suwannee River killing Florida toddler
Girl killed by sturgeon jumping while boating: Not isolated incident in Florida
Leaping sturgeon kills child in Florida
FWC: Girl, 5, killed after being struck by jumping sturgeon in boat
Jaylon Rippy 5, dead, Colleen Harvey, 42, 9-year-old child injured when sturgeon jumps into boat on the Suwannee River in Lake City, Florida

July 4, 2015

Global Tentacles

Giraffe Cave Art at the NamibRand Nature Reserve
Picture credit: Namibnat

At first glance this morning, this news appeared to be a positive move, made by someone who had their heart and their power, in the right place, and was a cause for tremendous joy.
But then after reading further and seeking secondary and other stories for reference, it seems that all is not as it appears.
Paul Allen, the Billionaire philanthropist, who is seemingly strongly supportive of protecting Endangered Wildlife, has several not so nice personal blemishes, that must also be considered before we proceed to give him his Best Global Humanitarian Award.
Mr. Allen has introduced a measure to get on the Fall Ballots in Washington State, that will put a hurting on those who use the World’s  most at risk wildlife to make a dirty income.
The measure, called Inititive 1401, has already reached, thanks to all of his volunteers in the field, the necessary number to get on to the Ballot in November.

This is a great thing.
What I am having trouble with, is the dark side of his company Vulcan and his sister Jody, who was the CEO, and has just stepped down after some very ugly issues about wildlife  poaching and sexual harassment were brought to light by accusers who work for Allen’s company.
I will not go fully into these things, as they are well presented in the links below.
What I am interested in pointing out here is this.
When very rich, very powerful people make the news and receive gushing accolades without the public or the press, doing more than just a little background digging into the facts, bad things can happen.
In this case, Allen, who has passionately promoted this initiative in Washington, to save and protect wildlife, seems awesome, but something here is not right, and  it all smells just a little rank, when you learn that he has regularly taken African Safaris and owns Tourist Lodges in Botswana.

Now add to this, the fact that his Company Vulcan,  formerly run by his sister, has been taken to court and accused of smuggling, poaching and more.
All too often, people like Allen and his sister, are unlike you and me, frequently kept safely in a cocoon, so that the scandals, or dirt runs off of them and does not stain their pristine, public images.
My concern and primary reason for writing about this today is, that it would be so much easier to believe Allen and all the others who claim to be truly concerned about the welfare of Endangered Wildlife, if there was not so damn much money involved in all of this.

If, as you do so passionately profess Mr. Allen, you truly do wish to protect Endangered African Wildlife, may I suggest that you dispose of your African Tourist Lodges and suspend your Safari trips?
It would be wonderful to see those with so much wealth, using it to personally educate and enlighten the rest of the world to what is happening to the precious few wild animals that we have left, before they are all gone.
We absolutely must take this message out to the schools, to the young, who will become our next generation of protectors.
Sadly, access to excessive money can turn even the best people’s heads the wrong way and there is just too much at stake here.
The treacherous arms of Global Smugglers and Wildlife Traffickers can have very long tentacles, some are even said to be attached to Global Mobsters, that just may reach into even safe corners, including those of the well protected, well insulated, excessively wealthy.
Places to learn more:
Washington Rare Species Trafficking Measure, Initiative 1401 (2015)
Global Efforts to Stop Illicit Wildlife Trade: Are They Enough?
China Promises an End to Its Ivory Trade, While Some U.S. Politicians Pander to Wildlife Traffickers
Paul Allen: Seeking unbroken tall bones?
Paul Allen’s sister steps away from managing $17 bln fortune
Seahawks owner Paul Allen, sister settle as bodyguards claim smuggling, bribery
War threatens existence of wildlife species in South Sudan
Washington State Initiative Aims to Protect Iconic Animals Threatened With Extinction
Paul Allen bankrolls initiative to ban rare-species trafficking