2009-04-25

Walking with Lions - The Letters of George Adamson

Dedicated to George Adamson
1906-1989
The Father of Lions

Sometimes I write articles about those issues concerning the threat to already endangered species. My concern for the greater world around me stemmed from the work of two people. George and Joy Adamson. In this post I have chosen to focus on the work of George Adamson in his later years at Kora National Reserve and a series of letters he had written between 1982 until his tragic death in 1989 when he was shot by Somali Bandits. Joy too in 1980 had been murdered by a disgruntled servant - despite this both George and Joy Adamson left a lasting legacy for generations of conservationists. I can name another who fought and died for the love of her cherished Mountain Gorillas. Dian Fossey too was murdered for her daring to risk everything to protect Digit and the others from poachers. Today the Gorillas still exist thanks to her dedication. In Kenya and in South Africa too - a new generation of dedicated conservationists work to save endangered species through rewilding projects. George Adamson pioneered rewilding long before anyone else had ever proposed to do so.

Through his work at Kora both captive raised Lions and Leopards were successfully returned to the wild. In his letter of May 1982 George wrote of the successful reintroduction of the original captive lions back into the wild and of the conflict with herders and the deadly Coopertox cattle dip which was frequently used to poison off the lions and other predators.

By the end of 1980, all of the original lions which had come with us from out of captivity had been sucessfully rehabilitated and had gone off to do their own thing, inspite of always being well fed at Kampi ya Simba. Some had crossed over the Tana River which forms the Northern Boundary of the reserve, others had made their way down along the river into country inhabited by tribesmen and their livestock.

Once out of the reserve the lions become vunerable to poachers and reprisals by stock owners. No doubt, some have been killed or poisoned for these reasons. Unfortunately, there is no control over the sale and distribution of "Coopertox" Cattle dip which is a deadly poison which can be and is used illegally to poison lions and other predators.

Within the same letter he takes the reader into the life of the lions he was in contact with. In this excerpt Adamson writes of (then) five year old Koretta and her bad habit of neglecting her cubs. The caring for those same cubs by three year old Naja and of his thoughts that perhaps their wild mate Blakantan had been responsible for eating Koretta's first litter -

...Koretta was not a good mother, prone to easy seduction by Blakantan the wild lion, leading to the neglect of the cubs. Naja, three years old, a much smaller lioness has two cubs Fritz & Fitz aged nine months. She is an excellent and selfless mother. Without her help none of Koretta's cubs would have survived.

Often, even when hungry, she would carry meat to the cubs even before satisfying her own needs. As if to make up for her earlier irresponsible behaviou,r Koretta with an abundant supply of milk, would give all the cubs a feed. At one time, I entertained the suspicion that Blakantan was responsible for the loss of Koretta's first litter of four beautiful cubs and that he had killed and eaten them!

I though seriously of getting rid of him but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. It was as well that I did so, as he has turned out to be a model and indulgent father, allowing the cubs to rough-house him, pull his tail and bite his ears. Although shy and suspicious of humans, he is gaining confidence and often comes to the camp with the others and fairly shakes the place with his mighty roars at night. Always he chooses a position where the echoes off the hills can be heard to best advantage. Perhaps he likes to hear his own voice or maybe wishes to intimidate his visitors?

Each and every letter tells of successes and failures. The conflict with poachers, authorities and of loss. These letters walked me into the world of the man who walked with lions. I walked with him through his words and was taken into his world and that of his beloved lions. Take a moment if you can to read one of those letters. I know I will return time and time again and take a walk once more with the Father of Lions.
Walking with Lions

2009-04-24

Continuing on A Sense of Wonder - A Global Competition


I had an email today from Patricia at Abyssal Plain that just seriously made my day. The Environmental Protection Agency in the USA has announced its third annual Sense of Wonder Competition and this time its gone GLOBAL. Patricia has put up a really detailed post about this competition so I'll let her tell you all about this fantastic opportunity to get a team (minimum of 2 people) of different ages together eg Grandparents and grandchildren Mums,Dads and kids. Friends of different age groups. Get Creative with photography,poetry, essays and dance (and it doesn't have to have people in it). This is about your sense of wonder with the natural world - so go for it. The kids and I have already chosen our image. Inaya took the photo with Michelle in the image - so Mum has to do the writing part. We're doing this for fun and because we all love nature. The girls are so exciting about it. Deadline for entries is the 10th of June 2009. SPREAD THE WORD TO YOUR FRIENDS,FAMILY AND CONTACTS.


I was having a sense of wonder in several ways. The first was yesterday when my poor Mum came down to tell me she had discovered an unwanted marsupial visitor living in her old outhouse. The possum was vanquished with a couple of good whacks with my trusty cattle stick. The image of the tree above is what possums do to our forest night after night. Yet again I have to set several traps. The next was today when we were visited by a hoard of turkeys who decided that hanging around my house and garden was a really great idea. That's them in the top photo..The third sense of wonder was Maggie jumping up onto an old log and crowing like a rooster. She does that every time the turkeys show up. They were crossing our driveway after being in the garden when Maggie decided to play the part of farm boss and tell those turkeys to get on their way. It's not May ....yet otherwise I'd be looking for a gun and helping myself to some nice plump turkeys for the dinner table..yum. Then there was this sense of wonder...
My darling Jersey River. There she is happily enjoying a big feed of new grass and whatever those weeds are she's eating. I raised her right from birth my first baby calf that I nearly lost in the first ten days of her life. Now she is all grown up despite all her problems and she is keeping me waiting! She was supposed to be due around now but not much is going on. Of course nature has its timing
Things are slowly happening as in very slowly. Poor River looks like a big barrel with all that calf inside and probably too much good grass on top. I don't think she really cares - not from this picture. Anyway go over to Patricia's blog and seriously think about entering that great competition. We are and all just for fun that's what matters - that and the environment we share with the creatures that live on our farm and then some.

2009-04-23

Remembering the Fallen - (And the War nobody talks about)


WW1 Memorial Maungaturoto Congregational Church Cemetery

This coming Saturday the 25th of April will be ANZAC Day. A day when we in New Zealand and Australia remember those who fell at Gallipoli in 1915 during World War 1. There will be dawn parades to remember those young men who fell on the beaches and in the trenches.

The Landing at Anzac - John Lambert

In his diary dated Sunday 25th April 1915 William George Malone wrote

By now wounded men by the score were being brought back and laid along the track, all sorts of wounds. The stretcher bearers couldn't cope with the number and soon there were no stretchers. I got an immediate demand from Colonel Braund for more reinforcements but sent him a firm refusal. He then said as I would not send him up more reinforcements he would have to retire to his first position. I told him he never ought to have left it.

It was his first day on the beaches of Gallipoli and all around him the young men of his battalion were dying. In the same campaign George Bollinger sadly noted the casualties in his diary

Tuesday 27th April At daylight this morning a terrific artillery duel raged. The Turks put hundreds of shells onto our landing place. At 10.00 am we were marched north along the beach, and as we got under heights we met crowds of wounded coming down. Oh how callous one gets. Word rushed down from above for Hawkes Bay and Wellington-West Coast Companies to reinforce at the double, as our fellows were getting massacred. We threw off packs and forgot everything in that climb up the cliffs. We fixed bayonets on reaching top and got into it. The country is terribly hilly and covered with scrub from four to five feet high. On we rushed against a rain of bullets and our men began to drop over, before they fired a shot. We started to get mixed and were everywhere amongst the Australians. Our men were dropping in hundreds.

The total combined death toll for the nine month long Gallipoli Campaign was 120,000. As we all know it wasn't just Australians and New Zealanders that fought in both wars - but all our countries. Enemies and allies alike all had losses all following the orders of their respective leaders. We all know young men and woman died for their countries.
Airborne Mercy Korean War Helicopter - Image Public Domain

The Korean War followed soon after World War 2. In 1950 during the era of the cold war, and the fear of Communism spreading across the western world, communist North Korea attacked South Korea. The US and its allies stepped in. By 1953 on the 27th of July an armistance between China, North Korea and the US had been signed - yet even now North Korea has not signed a peace treaty. The standoff even now still remains. North Korea continues to remain a hardcore communist state with a nuclear capability and as we all know this country has featured very recently in the news.
I wasn't born when the Korean War happened. I was born in 1964 - just at the beginning of the escalation of the war in Vietnam. The 1960's as many of those who are older than me know was a decade of many changes and Vietnam was the one war mothers, daughters even fathers began to say to their respective governments was wrong. I was too young to know much until the early 1970's when I was 8 years old and watching the Television War night after night. We'd see the burning jungles from the napalm strikes, the soldiers maimed, wounded and dead. The children, the families and their villages bombed their bodies spread across the charred remains of their homes. And most vivid of all I remember this image Napalm Strike (1972) photographed by Huyhn Cong 'Nick' Ut in a year book my father had of (then) 12 year old Kim Phuc whom he doused with water after the shot was taken, then took to hospital. I recall Kim Phuc now lives in the USA.

Former Hues Helicopter pilot and Vietnam Veteran Robert Mason wrote in his 1984 best seller Chickenhawk just after he started his tour of duty in Vietnam...

That night while the rain tapped on my tent I wrote Patience a letter by candlelight. I told her how painful it was to be far away, how I missed her and Jack, how much I loved her. Small-arms fire popped and crackled in the darkness. I had talked to a guy at Belvoir who had told me how great his Vietnam tour had been. He had a villa overlooking the ocean, willing hooch-maids, casinos and great buys at the PX. He had been stationed with a group of advisors along the coast where he flew around officials from one Special Forces camp to another. I thought of him and cursed my luck.

Mason also wrote of the Vietnamese civilians and one incident greatly disturbed him. A young twelve year old girl had approached him and his comrades holding a baby she wanted to sell.
He writes...

......I had started to tell her that it was wrong to do what she was doing when I noticed something peculiar about the baby. Gnats were crawling all over the slits of its eyes. It wasn't blinking. I reached out to touch its pale cheek. When my fingers touched cold skin, I knew I had discovered something I didn't want to know....

The baby was dead and it horrified both Mason and his comrade who both watched as the girl went somewhere else still carrying the dead infant to try to sell to someone else.

Last year I met a man who looked older than his true years. He had been in three tours of Vietnam and his pain and bitterness was still there - long years after the conflict was over. He told me that people spat upon him and his fellow war veterans. They didn't have a parade or a welcome. People would leave him letters on his door step calling him a child killer and a murderer of innocent civilians. He walked with a limp - caused by the shrapnel from a Vietcong booby trap. He served his country at just 19 years of age - the average age of a combat soldier serving in Vietnam. There are others out there. Nurses, Engineers, Doctors, Aide workers who all have memories of the unwinnable war. They served their countries while as a child I watched it all on a television screen.

Now my children have asked me about the Vietnam War and I've told them what it was about. Did I tell them it was wrong - no I told them that the Vietnam War was a sign of the times and a symptom of the then Cold War. To those who protested against it - yes it was wrong. Why? Because their children were being sent to war and not returning alive - how could I criticise that. I can't.
Protesting the Vietnam War outside the Pentagon - Image Public Domain

This ANZAC Day I will not only remember those of World War 1 and WW2. But also all those who fought in those other nearly forgotten wars and not spit upon their sacrifice - but remember them in the same way we remember those brave soldiers who fell at Gallipoli.

Perhaps I'm daring to open up a can of worms here - my own opinion is it's time we talked about the Vietnam War instead of shutting it out of our memories because - it happened. Lest we forget.

2009-04-22

Hey who stole the leaves off my trees?


Oh that's right it's Autumn and there I was dead set on blaming the Terrorist for climbing the Poplar trees and eating all those delicious leaves. Just one problem with that theory - calves can't climb trees. Grudgingly I have to accept that indeed Autumn is here and summer is well and truly over. Just around the corner will be that season called Winter with the short days, the mud, lack of grass growth and every other wet depressing task I can think of on the farm. Yes I hate Winter but then again Spring follows afterwards....
Little did the Terrorist know the time for being the baby of the farm critters had come to an end. It was time for her to learn to become a cow - not. Those things that had horns and went moo just weren't good enough. This was sooo unfair. The mean hooman had left the poor little Terrorist all alone with those mean moo-things we know as cows. She complained most of the week but now it's dawned on her the hooman will not be spoiling her rotten anymore. She has to live with this lot...
Minus Sasha for the winter. She's going up the road to my neighbours. We had hoped to move her a couple of days back but the weather and lots of trucks along with major roadworks have put a delay on that move. Today though we'll be walking her late this afternoon - very slowly. Sasha has a condition called Stringhalt which means her back legs are stiff and a bit tied up. She used to be a Polo Pony and this condition seems to be common in horses used for the sport.
Dream and Emerald aren't looking too concerned about the Terrorist not being around to try and eat their fur. They found a comfortable place on one the feed sacks while Sasquatch...
Had the couch all to himself and was being...well Sasquatch. I had my hand clawed then half eaten...is there a Doctor in the house?LOL

2009-04-21

Update on Exotic Meat Trading - Response from P.E.T.A.

Below is the response from People for Ethical Treatment for Animals concerning Brentwood Trading Group. At this stage it's not saying a lot but P.E.T.A at least have come back to me. World Wildlife Fund have also responded that they have passed on my concerns to the right people in their organisation. Yahoo have also contacted me and will be looking into this website as well. So far so good. For some of my friends who are in farming P.E.T.A has been a thorn in their side with sometimes unrealistic demands being made on genuinely ethical farmers and their families in the U.S who don't own huge feedlots or factory farm their animals. While there is indeed a place for organisation like P.E.T.A there also needs to be a balance in their approach. Maria had put across her point on factory farming practices. We almost had a similar type setups occuring here in New Zealand however our pasture raised beef seems to be a better option in the long term. Economics and a pressure to be more efficient can mean farmers have had to resort to feedlots in order to maintain their incomes. I don't truly know nor can I form an opinion when I haven't seen these types of farming operations for myself as in visiting one. One thing I do know - our dairy farmers here have gone from herds of perhaps 120 cows to upwards of 450. As some of my blogger friends know the investment and time that is inputted is beyond just a financial one. It's a seven day a week 365 days a year committment. You can't sleep in on Christmas Day - the cows still need to be milked and there's still jobs on the farm to be done and it goes too for any farm. Read the email below. Opinions are welcome.

Dear Liz,

Your e-mail was passed on to me as I work for the Asia-Pacific affiliate of PETA, which actively campaigns in New Zealand. Thank you for contacting PETA and for your concern regarding the selling of exotic animals’ meat. Please remember, however, that it is just as barbaric for the rest of the world to eat cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals raised on factory farms. These animals may not be as familiar to us, but they are just as capable of pain and suffering as zebras and tigers are. Animals on factory farms are crowded in small cages or stalls, many never see the sun, breathe fresh air, or feel grass under their feet.

Cows raised for beef are branded, castrated, and dehorned without anesthesia. They often die of pneumonia, dehydration, or heat exhaustion from spending days without food or water in overcrowded trucks on their way to feedlots or slaughterhouses.

Female pigs are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal stalls where they can’t turn around or even nuzzle their babies. Males are castrated and have their tails cut off without any painkillers.

Chickens spend their entire lives crammed in cages so small they’re barely able to move. They lose their feathers and their skin turns red and raw from rubbing against the wire walls. To keep them from pecking each other in frustration, factory workers slice off chicks’ beaks with a hot blade, sometimes taking part of their tongues or faces with it.

Our understanding of the cruelty inherent in the meat industry becomes even clearer when we realize that it’s all unnecessary: Humans do not need to eat animal flesh. In fact, we’re healthier if we don’t. And since we have so many choices as consumers these days, there’s simply no excuse for continuing to raise and slaughter animals for food. The only truly humane option is to choose alternatives to animal products—which, luckily, isn’t as hard as you might think.

The best thing that anyone can do to help all of these animals is to go vegetarian. Please visit GoVeg.com to find out more about vegetarianism. Please contact me anytime and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Best,

Maria Fernandez Salom

Activist Liaison

PETA Asia-Pacific


Baa Baa Black Sheep.... (MY SHEEP IS COPYRIGHT!)


Well this sheep won't give you much. Things you get up to in the middle of the night? I draw silly cartoon creatures that in the real world would be absolutely useless. This sheep I think would be trouble..like all sheep are...Unfortunately I've now had to mar my woolly friend with a massive copyright warning. I've got very tired of people taking my artwork and just using it without any credit let alone asking for permission! IF YOU WANT THIS IMAGE SO BADLY THEN PLEASE ASK!!! DON'T JUST TAKE!

2009-04-19

Paparoa Show Photos - Brother and Sister in the Miniature Horse Ring




These kids were a brother and sister competing in the miniature horse ring. So serious about it too. They did so well with their little horses. Inaya and Michelle wanted to take home just about every animal they saw - as if we don't have enough already?

And a few more Show Photos...





A few more Show Photos











This you just HAVE to try out -FACEinHole.com


Create your own FACEinHOLE

Amy put me onto this website. It is so funny. Grab anyone's face and stick it onto a great range of celebrity images,paintings,advertising. I'm not sure about me in this getup...hmmm I think I need to go back into my hole now. Anyway if you're bored and want something fun to do try it out. Thanks Amy!LOL!

Mum Should I go and get the duster?


Those were the words of my youngest when we ended up covered in super-phosphate the other day. My neighbour across the road had decided his pastures were badly in need of an autumn boost. He was happy out there with the tractor and the spreader getting the job done - my poor Mum thought there was a big fire! Well no the wind shifted direction and our place ended up being fertilised as well as us. Michelle was trying to figure out whether or not she would grow taller after I explained that it was fertiliser to make the grass grow tall. And of course the duster comment was added to that.
Sasha was too busy eating her new grass to care much about that silly old tractor and the fertilising stuff. It's been a long struggle with this beautiful lady. Sasha had a terrible winter last year and on top of everything else she had ended up with an abscess in her withers. Finally she has healed up and put on some weight. We're going to be moving her off the farm today to go and join Edward along the road on a neighbours 5 acres. They have grass past their knees. The winter covers have now gone on as the nights now are getting too cold for the two old horse. Sasha is rising 24 this year and Edward will be 29. I'd love a younger horse to ride later on - but for now I'll just enjoy my two oldies and the fun they bring.

And this is the last photo I had taken of little Yowie just the day before she died. Cute there in her very small box letting me know she was being interrupted and wanted to get back to her sleeping. Hope everyone's well and having a happy day. I certainly intend to.