Conservationists will gather for a peaceful demonstration to speak out against South Africa’s rhino crisis.

Bush Warriors has organized a peaceful demonstration to be attended by conservationists from around South Africa, in order to speak out against the nation's surging rhino crisis. The ‘Bush Warriors Rally for South Africa’s Rhinos’ will take place in front of Limpopo’s Musina Magistrate Courthouse on 11 April, 2011, the trial date and location of a high-profile case involving suspected members of a rhino poaching syndicate. The non-violent protest will provide citizens with an opportunity to voice their concerns about the poaching issue, urge the judicial system to take a firm stance against poaching by enforcing strict punishments for offenders, and to assert that these criminal acts will not be tolerated by society.

Bush Warriors, a non-profit organization committed to raising awareness about global wildlife issues, is calling on the public to attend and support the rally, in order to serve as a voice for South Africa’s imperiled rhinos. The protest will demonstrate national and global support for the South African government's intolerance for rhino poaching, setting an example for the world. It is hoped public outcry will bring justice for one of the nation’s most economically important assets, which are threatened by rampant illegal poaching.

Background Information

Organized crime syndicates are the primary forces driving these atrocities, operating with flagrant disregard for the law. They are commercial in nature, exploiting South Africa’s natural resources for immense profit at the expense of the government and private game farms. It is critical that these crime rings be targeted by law enforcement, if rhino poaching is to be halted.

The case to be tried on the day of the rally illustrates the importance of focusing efforts on these organized crime syndicates. The suspects in the 11 April case include well-known game farmers, veterinarians, and professional hunters from within the conservationist community and are believed to have worked together to carry out large-scale rhino poaching operations. Following the bailed release of the eleven individuals, authorities found some 20 hornless rhino carcasses on farm property belonging to one of the suspects. The case has drawn international attention and could be the tipping point wildlife supporters are hoping for in the battle to protect rhinos.

In 2010, poachers slaughtered 333 rhinos in South Africa, including some ‘Critically Endangered’ Black Rhinos. Holding a large majority of the world’s White and Black Rhino populations, the nation serves as a major tourist attraction for those wishing to see one of the most revered of Africa’s ‘Big Five’. Citizens, stakeholders, and conservationists from around the world are deeply concerned about the future of these species. Their message of intolerance for crimes against rhinos will be underscored if the judicial system takes a paralleled stance in the upcoming trial. Should the proceedings rule in favor of stringent punishments, the stage will be set for similar cases in the future and will send a bold warning of the consequences for illegally killing rhinos or contributing to these acts.

All who feel strongly about protecting South Africa’s rhinos and tourism-based economy are strongly encouraged to gather peacefully for this demonstration and to make their voices heard by the court, the government, the criminals, and the world. This is the first time in history that something like this has been attempted for these animals. Bush Warriors welcomes additional support for this historical affair, including filming and photographing of the event, providing transportation from various locations across country, and supplying printed Bush Warriors materials for the rally.

For more information on the event, the poaching of rhinos, or Bush Warriors, please visit their website or contact them at:

Website: www.bushwarriors.org

Email: bushwarriors@gmail.com

Graphics promoting the rally are available upon request or by visiting the link above.

1. Bush Warriors is a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness about global wildlife conservation issues, with special attention paid to poaching, bushmeat trade, and illegal wildlife trade. Bush Warriors is also developing on-the-ground projects that will be established to address these issues and halt destruction of nature.

2. Rhinos are targeted solely for their horn, which is now worth far more than its weight in gold. Demand for the horn comes from almost exclusively from East and South East Asia, where it is used in traditional medicine, despite scientific studies that have proven the substance to be void of any curative properties. Rhino poaching has now reached historic proportions to supply this demand. On average globally, one rhino is now being killed roughly every 21 hours.

And that possum just keeps on hangin' around

They'll make a movie out of this one day - Yeah Right!
This reminds me of some wierd cartoon type of war. Possum vs Human vanquishers. So far Possum 200 Humans a big fat ZERO. Maybe life is trying to tell me something here. Love your fellow creatures goes the catch phrase. Well yes I truly do. Possums fascinate me how the way they are so beautifully adapted for arboreal life. Just one problem, with arboreal skill comes the destruction of rare native species and plant life, in a land this Australian visitor shouldn't even be upon. The reason why that is - a really DUMB! idea by a bunch of settlers, that said marsupial would make a great fur coat. Yeah - one made up of 71 million strong blanketing our entire country. Rotten Marsupial Sods vs Humans was continues. It's back in my art studio out of reach. Putting a shotgun blast hole through the roof would be a very bad idea somehow. We don't need anymore ventilation that what we already have thank you very much. So in the meantime the war continues. I'll keep you posted on the scores. Maybe they could make a movie out of it one day...yeah...right

Meantime winter is fast approaching I suppose. The flies are become less in number now the summer heat has died down a bit. We're still getting temperatures in the mid 20's range. The soil is still dry despite the bit of rain we've had. Meantime we're missing The Terrorist who has vanished without a trace. Been searching for her but so far nothing. Bit of a bummer if she's gone for good. We're missing her and so is River and the old man. That's life for you out in the rural areas. She got out through the back fence and could be anywhere. I have an entire massive dairy farm next door to go roaming across in the search to find her. We'll keep looking.

So....Possums 200............Hoomans ..oh I give up! Rotten old possum.


Take your filthy hands off my Serengeti! #2 Lions are not floor rugs

Lions are supposed to be the King of the Beasts right? Apparently not anymore. In Africa the lion is fast disappearing. From over 100,000 to a mere estimated 23,000, there aren't so many left. The African Lion (Panthera leo) is now listed as vunerable on the ICUN Red List

Many have died from Bovine TB, Canine distemper and poisoning. Populations have been reduced by human encroachment and hunting. 23,000 may seem a lot but given the vastness of a continent the size of Africa it isn't very many at all.

WARNING GRAPHIC Bowhunting of a lion on Youtube

Meantime trophy hunting is also adding to the depopulation of the African Lion. Lion Aid a UK based organisation has a petition circulating at present to have the trophy hunting of lions banned. Perhaps I'm biased - but after getting to know the lions at Zion Wildlife Gardens over the last couple of years there is no way I would want to see any of my lion friends end up on some hunter's wall or as a rug on the floor. Lions aren't floor rugs they are a living breathing and very much an essential part of Africa's natural balance, just as the wolf is in Europe and North America. Remove an apex predator from the environment and the natural balance is completely changed to the detriment of the entire ecosystem it once inhabited.

If the Lion vanishes, then will people be wringing their hands a year after the last lion has gone and say 'We wished we had saved them." Think about it. After the last Tasmanian Tiger died in September of 1936 by 1939 articles were appearing in the newspapers lamenting the marsupial's loss - by then, it was far too late. The Tasmanian Tiger was lost forever - all because of a campaign of willful extermination, and a lack of resolve to save this now lost species. Will the African Lion go the same way. Food for thought.

And the cartoon at the top is my way of saying Take your filthy hands off my Serengeti! My cartoon animal army is growing - on the cartoon Serengeti there'll be no hunting allowed. Let's hope in the real world somewhere there is a will to prevent the lion's loss.

Boosting milk production major focus of research

Significantly, increasing milk production is the theme of research being presented by AgResearch scientists at the NZBIO Conference 2011 in Auckland on 21 March 2011, focusing on enabling successful biotechnology.

AgResearch scientists will detail their innovative research aimed at further lifting production in New Zealand’s key export income earner, the dairy industry.

Lead researcher in the Lactation Biology Team, Animal Biosciences Section, at AgResearch Ruakura in Hamilton, Dr Kuljeet Singh, along with a team of scientists, is at the cutting edge of this internationally recognised research.

“We’re trying to understand the complex cellular and molecular mechanisms in the cow’s mammary gland which result in natural increases and decreases in milk production,” says Dr Singh. “This is a complex and relatively unknown area that will make a huge difference to the dairy industry.”

“Many dairy farms only milk once a day, or would like to do so, but this often results in a fall in production. So we’re researching the protein and cell signaling pathways that control the lactation process to see if we can manipulate it to improve milk production.”

Dr Singh says the aim is to determine the nature of the switch or trigger at a cellular level in the cow’s mammary gland, which stops and starts lactation. She says there is a range of environmental influences, for example nutrition, that may cause a chemical change to DNA of mammary glands’ cells. The research focuses on identifying such changes and understanding if these changes could cause epithelial cells of the mammary gland to turn off.

Once these pathways are determined then this opens up the possibility of altering a cow’s nutrition, providing supplements or other manipulation which will influence and enhance milk production.

Meanwhile, at AgResearch’s Grasslands campus at Palmerston North, Dr Graeme Attwood, Section Manager, Ruminant Nutrition & Microbiology, is enthused by the huge potential of a new environmental microbiology approach called ‘metagenomics’.

He says ‘metagenomics promises to be the key technology that will facilitate the understanding of what goes on in a cow’s first stomach or rumen, and the relationship between forage degradation and ruminant nutrition which leads to improved milk production.

Metagenomics is an amazingly powerful new analytical tool allowing rapid progress in revealing, at a molecular level, what goes on in microbes within a cow’s stomach,” he says.

“It allows us to examine all the different micro-organisms in the rumen at the same time, and to screen their DNA for enzymes involved in the digestion of grass or supplementary feed, like silage. Previously scientists were limited to working on the 10% of microbes that were culturable from the rumen, but this powerful new analytical tool has radically improved this situation.

“We can now isolate the key enzymes in this digestive process and, based on this information, supply enzyme additives to supplementary feeds that enhance feed digestion and improve milk production.”

Dr Attwood and his team are making good progress, having identified a range of rumen bacterial enzymes and are characterising their activities for development as future enhancers of forage digestion in ruminant animals.

Another study aimed at improving milk and meat production at AgResearch’s Palmerston North facility is the innovative use of symbiotic fungi (endophytes) living in plants to enhance the digestion of cows. Fungi are already known to have positive impacts on forage and grass production.

Dr Milan Gagic, Scientist with the Forage Biotechnology Section, is working on modifying endophytes to deliver additional highly active enzymes to cows when they graze. These enzymes may speed up the rate of digestion or degradation of forage in a cow’s stomach.

The advantage of this approach lies in the fact that modified fungal endophytes do not propagate via grass pollen which minimises any impact on other grass varieties.

“The goal is to increase the digestion rate of grass and other forage which in turn may increase milk and meat production,” says Dr Gagic.


Bit of an update on what's been happening on the farm of late and beyond

No this possum wasn't there to do the dusting....

Yes it's one those boring! kind of posts. The kind of post, that you might as well lean against and yawn loudly, while I bore you all with the mundane facts of life.

It's Monday here. A wet horrible Monday with Murphy's Laws abounding in spades and my temper getting frayed by the second. I hate Mondays. But okay, fine. At least I have a bit of time to sit here in front of the ol' computer screen and bore everyone witless with my rather uninteresting news. So here goes make sure if you're leaning against that post it's not full of termites created by some mad scientist in a nuclear facility. Mutated Termites aren't really in vogue this season much as I'd love them to be (Not!).

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, we had YET another possum hanging around. This time the sod decided it was going to live in my art studio along with the spiders and who knows what else. After putting the dog in there and chasing it all over the place it finally got the message and left the premises - sort of. Thing is still around. And I hate possums pests that they are.
We had Paparoa A & P Show in February it was a great day. While I was passing by to go and take some photos I came across this beautiful Clydesdale waiting to give rides to people. Love these horses one of my favourite breeds. History says the horse on the farm was replaced by mechanisation, yet they're never disappeared truly from the rural scene even if it is now in many cases just for pleasure.

Meantime I've been involved with taking photographs at Zion Wildlife Gardens in Kamo Whangarei. Last week I took up a ball sent from a group of very caring people called Toyz 4 Catz at Zion. They're just in the process of forming their charity as I write this post. The ball was a huge hit with Gandor who was New Zealand's very first white lion. Despite what people believe white lions are not a separate subspecies. They are the result of a mutation which causes the white colouring. Gandor is as any other lion, an African Lion. He's gorgeous though and certainly had fun with his new ball. Gandor was declawed for film and television work - a very sad and cruel thing to do to any big cat or a small one. The team at Zion are doing their best to ensure Gandor and over 20 other big cats are taken care of. A hard call when declawing affects everything the cats do. They walk with their front paws sideways - very sad.

Gandor with his new ball at Zion Wildlife Gardens Whangarei

Earlier all of us were sick with a horrible bug which we've finally got rid of. Not fun being sick and trying to look after a family and a farm! So with boredom comes a couple of cartoons....

I'm figuring since we have so many possums around the place they could be useful for whacking the mozzies while they're hiding in the dunny. Too bad about the lot having to wait their turn out there in the darkness.

And now everyone is utterly bored I'll leave you with this tatty old farm cat having a nice long snooze.

Love to everyone
from Liz and the girls here at the Mad Bush Farm


Notes from the Land of Gonzo - Look what I won Mum!

Early last summer I decided to get Michelle involved with a team sport. The best one I found was a game called touch rugby. It's similar to rugby except a tackle is made by touching the other person. Much safer and less rough and tumble than the national game. Initially Michelle was very hesitant. After a couple of times she really got involved with the whole team spirit and became a very useful member of her team the Pink Chicks. Well here she is holding The Most Improved Player for her team trophy which she can keep. She had a great coach and lots of encouragement it's the best decision I ever made. Not bad for a kid with Autism who had serious physical challenges to overcome as a little girl. I'm very very proud of my little girl. Well done!

From a very proud Mum