Sunday, 29 November 2015

Roaring for Cecil

Yesterday, November 28th, we marched through central London and roared for Cecil. The famous lion was murdered by a trophy hunter earlier this year but left a legacy and opened the lid on canned hunting of lions. The story went global and helped us in our plight to raise awareness around the unethical killing of lions. They are literally bred for the bullet and live in confined spaces, raised from cubs after being separated from their mothers at a very vulnerable age. Then, semi-tame are chosen off a menu by rich trophy hunters and are then released only to be shot. They are also killed for chinese medicine for a very high price. This terrible business is booming in South Africa where the demands are met by lion farmers willing to make easy money. They say it's for conservation .... sadly it is just about cash and fulfilling the egos of the wealthy who think it is okay to kill our natural heritage. Well, it is not okay. 

Lions are apex predators and they are essential to the ecology in Africa. Killing a male can wipe out generations as when a lion is taken, another, perhaps with weaker genes, will move in to a pride and kill the cubs. Over time this can have terrible effects on the overall health and wellbeing of a pride. Females are also used as production machines and whilst removed from their young will be thrown back in to oestrus and in some cases producing cubs two or three times a year. This would not happen naturally, in the wild. The cubs do not develop as they should, either. Hand reared, they are raised only to be killed a couple of years later. Still, it does not end there...Trophy hunters prefer a mature male so will hire someone to seek out one in the wild... due to the handsome mane, showing strong genes. The reason behind this is so they can hang the head on their wall and boast to their friends about the large, aggressive lion they have hunted. It is a lie. The lions are sometimes sedated and are use to humans so, more often than not will face their killer head on. Otherwise, they are lured by bate to an area where they make an easier target, like Cecil. Cecil was first shot with an arrow which caused him considerable suffering for about 40 hours before he was killed with a bullet. He had a family and was the subject of researchers and brought in many tourists as he was the perfect speciman representing these magnificent animals.

This industry is corrupt, untruthful and destroying our wildlife as we know it. The breeders and trophy hunters argue that it's for the sake of conservation and restores balance within the ecosystem. This treatment of lions has nothing to do with preservation. If all was above board then why are the breeders so concerned with the truth being revealed? Under-cover reporters have been threatened and filming is banned within many breeding operations. So... begs the question, "What are they hiding?" Trophy hunters are aggressive and have no compassion for the animals they are killing. Thousands of dollars/pounds are pumped in to this practise.  I have only touched the surface of the industry, it is so corrupt and the governments are seemingly siding with this dishonourable business. It is a disgrace and raising awareness needs to be amplified around the globe. 

This is why we march and are the voices for the voiceless. Governments need to sit up and take notice of the cruel practise that is Canned Hunting. There will be no lions left in the wild if this continues. This will dramatically change the landscape of Africa and have a detrimental effect on all other beings. Lions have a purpose and are not there to be exploited and slaughtered. Lions need to be listed as endangered before it is too late.

I have said this before, but a world without lions in the wild is unthinkable. They touch the core of the human psyche and evoke emotions in all of us. They command respect and are noble, wise, majestic and social cats. That said, why would anyone in their right mind ever want to harm one? 


To be continued ...


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Dark is Light

Sun Over Mountain

A Poem ...

The universe spins,
Then it all comes back again,
That drudgery from past,
Chaining and wanton,
The key is in faith,
But this is no stream,
It is a deep, dark lake.
Amongst the ruins of yesterday,
The roots of altruism,
An insatiable force of will,
Let it pass.
Irreverence follows treachery,
To gain strength with every vibration,
Equanimity is burning and compelling,
Tremulous, tenous and quivering.
Emotional bleeding beyond compare,
Fragility meets core,
treading the mill of fate,
Sustaining the passion,
Progress with faith.
Baggage embroiled,
Its time to surge forwards,
To trust and liberate.
Colours, light and glory,
Ensnare me with your spell,
Beguiling and wanton, 
Enraptured with life.
Let the night release its stars,
As the darkness waits,
Thereupon the lights have their turn to shine bright.

Photograph and words by Helen Ratcliff.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Voices In The Rain...

The heavens opened and shed tears throughout the duration of our plight to raise awareness and ask governments to consider, seriously, the value they place on protecting wildlife. Issues need to be heard and action must be taken to save our PRECIOUS animals. Elephants and rhinos have a purpose on this earth to preserve and shape the landscapes within which humans are supported - by them. They guide us and we kill them. We break their Spirits and lead them to a life of persecution.
 This global March for elephants and rhinos is the biggest event to have happened, EVER, for the voiceless. Once again...we have marched to preserve our natural heritage and to be their voice. We have a responsibility as the (so-called) intelligent and compassionate human race to save these  animals from extinction
 If elephants and rhinos could speak ( our) language, what would they say? "This earth has been ours to roam for millions of years. Why should we have to fight for our existence... We are not unlike humans with our sense of self. We feel pain, both physical and emotional".

#04/10/14. #InternationalAnimalDay.
#Elephants #Rhinos #Wild #Save #Nature 

Photographs by Helen Ratcliff

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Autumnal foraging ...

Hurry up and take the picture ... I have nuts to collect ... it's my busiest season...

I love the Autumn. There is something about this time of year which, for me, evokes so much nostalgia. The earthy aromas filling the air, the coolness on the cheeks, and the activity ... sending us all, including the wildlife, in to a gathering frenzy. It seems to be the only time that we all connect and that anachronistic feeling of inequality and difference, disappears. It is the season of harvest, colour and abundance.

Yesterday, I went out walking across the common, to one of my favourite spots, by the pond. Here, this time of year, emits so much pleasure .. I saw a giant fish jump out of the water (no fishing allowed, so they grow to enormous size) sadly, was not quick enough to get the shot, but was a wonderful surprise, nevertheless. Then, the great blue heron emerged from the trees and swept his magnificent wings up to launch .... then proceeded to hunch himself, quietly on the bank. 

The Great Blue Heron

With an arousal of sheer delight, I captured the image ...

I was sitting cross-legged on the ground, with the seasonal sun bathing me in Autumn glory. People were stopping to chat and swap stories about their dogs and experiences with the great blue, himself. The heron is well-known in the area and appears to thrive on the attention. His movement was balletic yet prehistoric. Showing grace and wisdom, although slightly top heavy. This guy has alot of wing but sustains such composure. There's an irrepressible flow in his flight and unquestionable respect for his manner. I felt very privileged to be graced with his swift presence.

The Heron Takes Off ...

What would the embers of summer be without an ethereal visit from the squirrel. The skittish and comical behaviour which always brings a smile. Humanely collecting nuts in his little hands and swimming through the air at such speed. The lightness of foot and tail disperse disdain and elicit a change in heart. Again, graceful movement gathers the rewards of the season and glides off towards the trees ... 

Taking the leap ...

Meanwhile the pond livens up once more and a flurry of activity arises amongst the ducks ... the splash-landings and waggish behaviour that always brings a chuckle .. The drakes surround the duck as she reflects on her shiny beak in to the mirroring water. Most instinctively ... she keeps the boys at wings length and shakes off the drops of water after her not-so-elegant landing.

Duck reflects ...

So ... to that end, here's to the seasonal blaze of glory. Autumn.

"Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

- George Eliot -