World Heritage Species

I am big believer in petitions and sign more than I can count, and while I understand that not every petition works, some do surpass their intended outcome. One benefit, regardless of the perceived success, is that they can be good vehicles for creating awareness. In some cases they may even be a catalyst for changing laws and the way business is done. For the few minutes or seconds it takes you to sign and share a petition, change can already be underway.

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The first of its kind, this particular petition is asking to establish a “World Heritage Species” program. This would be similar to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites initiative, but would extend to recognize and protect wildlife. The petition also asks that the first species listed in this program is the Lion.

The Change.org petition is circulating around the world, should you wish to sign and share it can be found here.

Brent Stapelkamp, field researcher with Oxford University’s WILDCRU, who had been following Cecil the Lion for nine years speaks about this very petition.

It is interesting to note that Brent in a previous BBC interview said that while he is against hunting, more about that in my piece In The Wind, he doesn’t want it banned. Is he having a change of heart? Maybe I’d like to believe that we can find alternatives to protecting wildlife that doesn’t involve killing, while helping to stop poaching and the other factors driving species to extinction.

Will raising the status of the Lion and addressing the crisis we are facing it in this manner helps us save the species? I don’t think it hurts the cause to try. Ideally I would also like to see this type of recognition be extended to include all of the big cats (wildlife) who are also threatened or close to extinction.

Blood Lions

The ground breaking film Blood Lions airs on MSNBC tonight in the USA. This film will not be easy to watch I will tell you that right off the top. It is however one that needs to be watched if the world is to stand up to the legal, horrific and brutal practice of Canned Hunting. Please watch and share the link with others.

Catch the premiere of Blood Lions, tonight October 7 at 10pm ET on MSNBC

For other dates check the MSNBC Documentary Schedule

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Blood Lions will take viewers into the dark world of the canned hunting in South Africa. Image – Blood Lions on Facebook

With the help of Ian Michler, safari operator and environmental journalist and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, viewers will see inside the breeding farms where lions are bred to be killed. The chain of suffering starts with tourists who volunteer or pay to pet, play, and bottle feed Lion cubs. Once these cute cubs are too large for human interaction the tame and habituated Lions are sold to canned hunting facilities where hunters pay big money for an easy and guaranteed kill. The Lions are shot with guns, rifles and crossbows all in an enclosed area with no chance for escape, suffering greatly before they die.

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Image – MSNBC

“Our film is an exposé,” says Blood Lions director Bruce Young, “most of the lions exist in appalling conditions, exploited at every stage of their lives. Even the people in South Africa do not know that lions are being bred for the bullet – and that it is totally legal. We want to show the world what is going on, who is involved, the impact on the animals and how much money is being generated by this industry.” – MSNBC

MSNBC web extras must watch online!

Volunteering in South Africa’s lion breeding facilities learn what you are really supporting.

Lion Bone Trade The demand for lions bones in China has created a new market for lion breeders in South Africa.

Want to help? Sign and share this petition to ask REAL GAP to Stop Sending Volunteers to Lion Breeding Projects in South Africa.

Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, co-owned by BBC Worldwide and the Natural History Museum, is a competition that showcases the best of the best when it comes to nature and wildlife photography. For a second year, the exhibit is being shown at the ROM in Toronto and I made sure to stop by this past weekend before it closes on March 22.

Last years exhibit was pretty spectacular and this years did not disappoint with photographers of all ages and skill levels from around the world showcasing their talents.

Some photos make an impact simply because they are visually stunning and others because they also relay a message, reflect the times we live in or show us where we may be headed. There are too many to mention here, but I will narrow down a few of my favorites starting with the Grand title winner Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols and his ethereal black and white piece The Last Great Picture.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, Grand title winner, Black and White, Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, USA The last great pictureImage © Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols

Taken in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, 5 Lionesses part of the Vumbi pride are captured as they lay on a rocky outcrop called a Kopje resting with their cubs, exhausted after having driven off the prides two males.”  What makes this image even more poignant is that it would be the last time he would photograph them all together. A few months later he learned that they had ventured outside the park and that three of the five females had been killed.

Next is Finalist David Lloyd with his photo The enchanted woodland and I have to say the combination of Leopard and Yellow fever tree is captivating. Taken in Kenya’s Lake Nukuru National Park this is a perfectly timed photo of a Leopard looking as if he was just waiting to be photographed.

Among the finalists in the youth category I picked The watchful cheetah by Leon Petrinos ‘You can tell the animal’s feelings from the look in the eye, the way the fur lies and how the ears move,’ says Leon. He particularly likes portraits, he says, because ‘the animal’s feelings talk to you’.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, Finalist, The Watchful Cheetah – Image © Leon Petrinos, Greece

Vanishing lions taken in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve by Skye Meaker another finalist in the youth category, gives us a picture with a strong message behind it. ‘I want the picture to raise awareness that lions are a vulnerable species,’ he says. ‘To me, this picture conveys the feeling that lions are fading from Africa.’  With fewer than 25,000 Lions estimated to be left across the continent, this young photography doesn’t realize how accurate his statement is.

Special Award: Wildlife Photojournalist of the year went to Brent Stirton from South Africa for his portfolio on how the lives of Lions are linked to humans in Bred to be killed which also highlights the practice of canned hunting. Hopefully having this appalling industry exposed through a mainstream exhibit will show thousands of people why the world has rallied to fight against it.

From the World in Our Hands category one of my all time favorites and finalist, Hollywood Cougar by photographer Steve Winter.

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Finalist 2014, World in our Hands, Steve Winter, USA,  Hollywood Cougar – Image © Steve Winter

For more award-winning images check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit online or in person when it comes to your city.

Victory For Lions In Australia!

I woke up this morning to read an email from Campaign Against Canned Hunting and had to share! Everyone who has been working to make this happen everywhere keep up the fight, I always said that all of us can make a difference. Let’s make this happen for the rest of the world! USA, Canada and Europe you are next! Happy Friday!

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Don’t be bringing your trophy heads into Australia anymore.

From the Herald Sun  March 13, 2015 7:01PM 

Federal Environment Minister and Member for Flinders Greg Hunt made the announcement at 6pm. The ban followed a campaign to end the importation of lion trophies by La Trobe Federal Liberal MP Jason Wood.

“Canned hunting is real. It exists. It shouldn’t exist,” Mr Hunt said. “It is done in inhumane conditions. It is involving things such as raising and then drugging and in many cases, baiting.

“I have signed an order to prevent the importation into Australia of African lion parts and remains. This order will take effect immediately.”

Mr Wood called the ban historic and said he hoped the rest of the world follow.

He thanked Ferny Creek’s Donalea Patman for bringing the issue to his attention.

“The practice of canned hunting is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“Australia has taken the first step, now let’s hope the rest of the world follows suit and says no to canned hunting.”

For the full article please read here

Global March For Lions

On March 13 and 14, people in cities around the world will once again bring awareness to the canned Lion hunting industry in South Africa. Last year was the first Global March For Lions (GMFL) and with 60 cities worldwide participating it was truly a historical moment, no gathering had previously raised awareness for Lions like the GMFL did.

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“Last year’s Global March for Lions created unprecedented public awareness world-wide about the plight of the lion. It was really extraordinary. During my almost thirty years fighting for the lion, never before I had I seen such a public outpouring of concern for the King of Animals. It was so heartening, and is making a difference. With this year’s demo we must build on this. The lion needs us like never before.” – Gareth Patterson, Author of My Lion’s Heart.

How the average person contributes to the canned hunting industry

For some it starts as a dream, traveling to Africa to volunteer on a conservation project  where the placement includes interaction with Lion cubs. Most of these placements, which can be found in South Africa, sell themselves to unwitting volunteers who think that they will be doing a good thing by helping raise, bottle feed, and play with lion cubs. Volunteers are told they are helping with “conservation” of the species and that when the Lions are grown, and thus to large to interact with people, they will ultimately be released back into the wild.

This could not be further from the truth

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Ask yourself if this looks fun or natural for these cubs?

Cubs, once able to feed themselves are turned into props used to provide photo and petting opportunities for paying visitors. There is nothing more unnatural to a Lion cub than being handled by humans all day long and being separated from their mothers. It is unhealthy, cruel, extremely abusive and exploitative. Most of these cubs are in very poor condition and are a product of FACTORY FARMING. These human-imprinted Lions have NO conservation value and therefore can never go back to the wild.

This industry is in it for money – there is no other reason

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The stuff of nightmares, the majority of these “projects” are commercial lion breeding farms that supply Lions for Trophy Hunting outfits – All Images – Global March For Lions Facebook

The reality 

Once the cubs are too large and dangerous to interact with people most end up in the canned hunting industry. The Lion cubs that were hand-reared by volunteers, used for photo-ops and habituated to people are then killed by trophy hunters. The Lions are baited, drugged, shot with guns, rifles and crossbows resulting in a horrible lingering death for the animal. All this done in an enclosed area with little or no chance for the lion to escape. Lions now an easy target, betrayed by humans that they had once trusted and grown dependent on.

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Big business. The majority of trophy hunters, who hail from the EU and USA, will pay well over $10,000 and sometimes up to $38,000 per kill

Breeding captive Lions helps wild Lions

  • Breeding of lions in captivity is NOT an important scientific necessity for the survival of Lions in the wild and it is certainly not a recognized conservation practice
  • To date almost NO captive reared Lions have been successfully introduced into the wild and, the gene pool in wild Lions is still sufficiently wild
  • Inbreeding is very prevalent in captive bred Lions and wild Lions are captured to breed with those in captivity to improve their genes
  • Luke Hunter (President of Panthera and someone who has worked on the conservation of wild African cats since 1982) and other experts recently published a paper demonstrating this “Walking with lions: why there is no role for captive-origin lions – Panthera Leo in species restoration
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Captive breeding of lions involves very significant unregulated welfare issues

  • Stress to cub and mother caused by separation at an early age
  • Habituation to human contact, abuse and in some cases lack of adequate nutrition (to keep them small)
  • Restriction of freedom to express appropriate behavior and protection from fear and distress
  • Finally, Lions are sold into the canned Lion hunting industry
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Cub petting kills, make the connection

Many volunteers who take a placement at these facilities may not always be aware of what they are getting into. However some will defend placements even when presented with the facts, denying and refusing to believe that the cubs they once “played” with have since been sold into the canned hunting industry.

Thankfully, some return from their experience wanting to prevent others from making the same mistake. I urge you to read www.claws-out.com a blog where volunteers recount their time at Ukutula Lodge in South Africa. A cautionary tale, these volunteers are now  advocating against the cub petting and canned hunting industry.

Where have all the Lions gone?

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It is impossible for all these Lions, let alone one, to find a proper and reputable placement.

Believe it or not Canned Hunting Is NOT illegal in South Africa

Campaign Against canned Hunting (CACH), a South African charity working to stop canned lion hunting in South Africa, has had no success yet in changing the law. However since the industry relies on hunters being able to take their trophy home CACH, along with UK-based charity Lion Aid,  are working on changing the laws so to ultimately prevent  the importation of lion “trophies” into most countries like the EU and the US. This makes it less desirable to trophy hunt an animal when you can’t take the trophy.

Please visit the Global March For Lions Facebook Page for a complete list of cities and events this year, check back here for more updates and be sure to share this information to help educate others on the status of the African Lion.

Have You Spoken Up For Lions?

This year I took part in, and helped organize the Global March For Lions Toronto event. It was a great day with lots of people coming out to bring awareness to the practice of Canned Hunting and the plight of African Lions who are being bred in captivity only to be killed by trophy hunters.

This is a short video from the event day and it tells you why we were out braving the Canadian cold.

To all readers, and especially if you are in the USA, please take time to contact the USFWS to ask them to ban all importation of Lion Trophies into the USA and to list the African Lion as Endangered. Killing is not conservation and allowing hunting of Lions will not save them.

Comments are being received here until January 27, 2015 so please speak up and share widely to help prevent this magnificent species from heading into extinction.

Big Cats on Holiday

Being able to take a break from things is a wonderful feeling, as is going on holiday, so for Feline Friday I though what better than to dedicate a post to some big cat themed fashion that is perfect to wear on vacation or to the beach. I have to say without a doubt these designers do the big cats like nobodies business.

We are Handsome (WAH), an Australian design team of husband and wife Jeremy and Katinka Somers, caught my eye a few years ago for the images of big cats used in their swimwear line, and since then I have been hooked or more like obsessed with their designs.

Besides swimwear they have a range of items, like leggings and dresses, all with bold digital prints – think of it like wearing a very beautiful photograph. I am always on the look out for fashion representing cats done well and it here it was, original and like nothing I had seen before… Hello WAH, yes I am shamelessly in love with your work.

They are best known for creating swimsuits that look good in the water, poolside or paired with a pair of jeans. The range includes a classic string bikini, one piece and  recently more sporty and modern looks. WAH breaks the various themes into collections each season and for me the animal prints are simply irresistible, I can’t seem to get enough.

Sadly living in the northern hemisphere dictates a short summer, but this didn’t discourage me envisioning wearing their suits on vacation – good mental motivation for planning some holiday time.

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My first The Stalker string bikini, this would not be my last.

Now realizing that my warm weather days were limited living in Toronto, I tried a pair of their leggings which I could wear pretty much all year round. Giddy with excitement I opened up the package to reveal a fun, bold statement piece to warm up any cold Canadian winter day.

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The Traveler – Northern Cats

From the leggings it was only a  matter of time until I thought about giving their dresses a try, I am wearing The King on my about page which is one of my favorite prints a majestic Lion covering the front and on the back, a woodland savannah with mountains and trees off in the horizon.

Once I had amassed a pretty nice collection, I admit to owning several images in various styles, I figured I should try their one piece 70’s style swimsuit. I have to say my aversion to wearing a one piece melted away when I tried it on. For my first foray into this style I choose The Fighter an image of a snow leopard with a fierce growl on it’s face. Go big or go home.

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The FIghter made me appreciate the one piece

A few of my other favorites pieces include

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The Victory

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The Impressor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I would love to get my hands on is The Africa, unfortunately this piece is from a past collection, and as all their designs are limited, I may have to enjoy it only in my dreams.

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The Africa

What I am coveting from their upcoming collection is the 3 D layering image of a Cheetah that was seen at their recent Sydney fashion show. This is definitely a new take on prints and a really unique departure from their previous work. Some of the styles are out, but at time of writing, and my vacation, the Cheetah had not been released.

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Upcoming collection – 3D Cheetah

All of the WAH prints are equally as beautiful and there is definitively something for everyone. I find their pieces are like little pick me ups and one can’t help but have a good day or sport a smile when wearing them.

For your little piece of what I’d like to call big cat heaven, check them out online and be sure to follow my Cat-stagram where I often post my personal WAH pieces.