I have been meaning to put fingers to the key board for some time now. What with the new job, learning curves and juggling time... I have not really had the opportunity. That said, I do continue to collect pictures and snippets of life a long the way. Stashing information and knowledge to reach this point where I feel it is time to flex the writing muscles.
There have naturally been highs and lows. I am truly enjoying the job at present and have met new and interesting people and characters. I feel an uncanny parallel to the job I had with English National Ballet. Working within an environment where people support and nourish each other with inspiration and creativity. Everyone is busy and productive. I like the vibe. On breaks we chat and swap stories in the staff room (a little like the Green room at ENB), huddled in big sofas and cushions... I think I can safely say, there is a (long absent) sense of belonging.
Each day brings brushes with nature and tales from the wild. In the garden, a baby fox spends most afternoons playing. On one occasion, The cub was sitting out there all alone. Mum had clearly gone foraging. I like to think that Mum knew instinctively that it was safe for her cub to be left. knowing this, I was very careful not to touch it - although very tempting. It was so innocent. The trust combined with naïve curiosity, was endearing and beautiful. However, I feared for the little cubs safety. As I embraced this precious moment and looked straight in to the eyes of innocence, I knew that this little fella had many challenges to face and lessons to learn and would probably look at me through different eyes in the future. But, for now, this was a fine 'spring' engagement.
Looking in to the face of innocence happened upon me again, last week. Whilst sitting in the garden, next to the holly tree, a little 'down' ball of fluff dropped on to the ground, after falling out of a nest. Surprised, I chased my tail for a couple of seconds before deciding to do something to help. Scooping the baby bird up gently into my hands, instilled a sense of ineffability. This innocent creature stood in my hand... yet, I felt powerless. It was not scared and seemed relaxed with me. Then, I began to search for the nest. I suspected Mum would not be far away and this gave me a jolt of responsibility towards the helpless little bird. Surging forwards in to the centre of the large holly tree, carefully avoiding leaf scratches. I looked up and around but could not see the nest. Adult Great Tits started circling the tree on the outside. Chirping with intent. Realising this distress for the birds - especially Mum, I placed the 'down' bundle on a relatively high branch and swiftly made my exit. I settled back down on the grass and hoped that Mum and baby would be reunited. The experiences with such innocence left me wondering about intervention. I think my decision gave the chick a chance of survival against the local and resident carnivores, although, perhaps not starvation. As the chick called out for Mum, I believed nature would take its natural course. Reassuring as this sounds, I had some doubts. I wished that I could have done more. Unlike the fox cub, this little one probably had a different fate mapped out.
Every day I walk to work along the river side. This is thinking and exercise time. Sometimes, I stop and take photographs and embrace the weather changes, light, colours and life. Inspiration is never far away. These walks are an important part of my day. And, together with moments in the garden, can be visually and spiritually rewarding...
Sun verses Storm
Cloud Drifting over Albert Bridge
On a more serious note... The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has won an award of £500,000 grant from Google's Global Impact Awards, to install 'state-of-the-art cameras' in Tsavo National Park, Kenya. A deponent method of capturing unsuspecting poachers in action. This is to enable rangers to catch intruders by transmitted images. The cameras can also detect vehicles from vibrations and, by triangulation, can pinpoint areas of imminent danger. Special 'high tech' sensors respond to alien activity. These cameras will be discretely placed in poacher hotspots and should effectively save hundreds of endangered species.
One rhino is killed by poachers every eleven hours. This is two rhinos a day. At this rate, without intervention, the species will most definitely be extinct within a matter of a few years. The same applies to lions and numerous other exotic animals.
A massive public surge of response has helped considerably to raise these funds by signing a petition - myself included. Small gestures by individuals really can make a difference. So ... keep this in your mind... More than 1,000 rhinos have been killed in Africa in just eighteen months - Think about it. This massacre of our animals must stop. Otherwise, it will be too late.
Still, more news comes in of Canned Hunting. It is a growing industry. Reports have shown shocking figures of growth. Business is booming. Between 2006 and 2011, 4,062 lions were exported, a one hundred and twenty two percent increase. Mostly, these are wealthy trophy hunters, but the boundaries are disappearing and Asia is a massive importer of lion parts. Poachers have a large part in canned hunting - selling to the demanding market. Recently, The Guardian's reporter, Patrick Barkham, investigated the practises of some of the 160 South African farms that legally breed lions and other wild animals for the purpose of being shot by hunters.
Lions bred for canned hunting are generally kept in cages and then released just a few days before the hunt. The King of The Jungle reduced to a hopeless, scared, confused and easy target for some ignorant .... to get his ego tweaked.
The chairman of the South African Predator Breeders' Association, argues that the canned hunts are an acceptable practise. He believes that the 'caring' public have been beguiled by the likes of "The Lion King" and other cartoons. Thankfully, some of us are swayed more by the sick reality than Walt Disney. And... some of us are trying to reach out and make a difference. The lions found a place in my heart long before cartoons...
Today, There are around 32,000 African lions, a figure which has seen a disturbing decline. This has earned them a "vulnerable" classification by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Breeders are claiming their businesses are legitimate. I disagree. There is no question. Canned hunting is barbaric, inhumane and unethical. Apparently, breeders are removing the cubs from their mothers before weaning, so that the lioness goes back in to oestrous (although their excuse is that the mother's milk has dried up). In the wild this would be called infanticide, where the alpha male will kill the cubs to see his own genes have a chance. Once the cubs are out of the picture, the female instinctively becomes sexually receptive again. On the farms, they remove the cubs to be hand-raised for the next line of targets. They are turning them out like hotcakes and killing them off for fun and pleasure.
Sadly, it is legal to bring lion carcasses back to Britain as a trophy (or any where in Europe or North America). Trophy hunters love the adrenalin rush, however, they pay for a sure thing... Some, are paying up to £25,000 for a killing holiday - the kids go along too. Great... a new generation of killers! Also, I read recently, that some hunters will pay £50,000 to kill a lion in its natural habitat. In Tanzania, some of the locals must see this as an easy buck and can be persuaded to take convincing trophy hunters out to the lions. Basically, a price-tag is hanging over the head of every lion.
Now that the tiger has been classified critically endangered, the Asian misconception of healing properties within the animal parts has swiftly been shifted over to the lions. So... "vulnerable?" Perhaps for the present time, but it will only be a matter of short years before they too, will be classified critically endangered, or worse, extinct in the wild.
On the subject of tigers, four have recently been found dead, within very close proximity of each other, in India. Animal experts have considered the possibility of infanticide, but the evidence speaks volumes of poisoning. All young tigers just wiped out. This is just a small slither of the greater picture. Tigers are vanishing in front of our eyes. The Poachers shoot them and set traps - some tigers are left in agony to die, pointlessly. A waste. I am filled with grief and sadness, just writing these words. Furthermore, these events continue around the world, wolves and bears suffer the same in Alaska. It is all about ego and money. Without education, or intervention of some means, these amazing wild animals will cease to exist.
So... when is it right to intervene? Is there such a thing as divine intervention? I say "Yes". Last night I watched the first part of a documentary about Siberian tigers. The crew and locals, in Russia, tracked three Siberian tiger cubs across a national park. Through bitterly cold snow storms they endeavoured to rescue the cubs as their mother had been killed by poachers. They, at only four months old, managed miraculously to stay alive, against the odds. Without the intervention of kindness and knowledge, these cubs would surely have died. On this occasion, it was the right thing to do. These innocent animals deserved a chance at life and would be rehabilitated back to the wild, after a year of nurturing, nourishment and preparation for release, by devoted animal lovers. Within this harsh and unforgiving landscape, there are only four hundred Siberian tigers roaming in the wild, and it is of the highest importance to preserve such a fine species.
Meanwhile... back at home, my own intervention saw a baby bird reunited with its mother. Phew! I did good. The fox cub continues to play in the garden as Mum looks on... The river glistens in the hazy light and all is at peace. I dream of a world where all animals have a fair chance at survival and live to inspire more tales from the wild. May the miracles prevail and, although deities are supernatural - we, as humans, need to have more faith in our own divine ability. The ability to preserve and nurture... not to kill.