The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program spends millions of taxpayer dollars to inhumanely kill as many as 100,000 wild predators annually. More accurately described by its former name, Animal Damage Control, Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars each year to kill thousands of wild animals (like coyotes, foxes, and badgers) in the name of protecting crops, livestock, private property, and "natural resources" such as birds who are endangered or favored by hunters.
The methods used to kill these animals include shooting from helicopters and airplanes, trapping, poisoning and denning (poisoning pups in their dens). Trapping and poisoning injure or kill "non-target" animals such as deer, birds, and companion animals—even endangered species. All this, despite the development of non-lethal methods to protect livestock and crops, and evidence that killing predators doesn't even solve the problem.
Coyotes and other predators provide easy scapegoats for the many difficulties faced by ranchers, and an easy target for Wildlife Services. But overall, predators account for a small percentage of livestock losses. The vast majority of livestock loss is caused by disease, severe weather and difficulty during calving or lambing. While coyotes and foxes are blamed for bird population declines, in most cases, habitat loss and/or fragmentation is the real culprit. Once this has taken place, these populations are more vulnerable to predation by other wild animals.
Though lethal predator control may seem a simple solution, reducing predator populations only occasionally increases bird population increases, and then only for a short time. Such increases require continued and widespread lethal predator control, continuing the cycle of cruelty without ever tackling the actual problem.
Changing livestock husbandry practices and adopting non-lethal strategies can go a long way toward reducing or eliminating predator-caused livestock losses over the long term.
Husbandry practices include:
bringing sheep into a barn during lambing (when they are especially vulnerable)
corralling livestock at night
removing livestock carcasses before they attract coyotes, bears, or other predators.
Non-lethal means of reducing livestock depredations include:
aversive conditioning of attacking predators.
Finally, improving and preserving habitat, as well as installing fencing that excludes predators, are long-term, inexpensive solutions that will serve both people and wildlife.
Leopards are beautiful cats generally found in the dense, damp, forested areas of India and Southeast Asia. Once common in all parts of Africa apart from the Sahara, they have now disappeared from most parts of northern Africa (apart from a few areas of the Atlas Mountains) and are scarce in the extreme west of the continent. The leopard is under extreme threat, especially in the Middle East and southwest Asia. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List because it is declining in large parts of its range due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and hunting for trade and pest control. It is regionally extinct in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya and Tunisia.
The European fashion for leopard skins may have diminished since the 1970s, but leopards are still killed for their skins. These crimes are often overlooked.
While it is illegal to take leopards from the wild to put in zoos, captive-bred leopards (and other animals) retain their wild instincts. They are shy creatures, used to remaining hidden and avoiding open spaces. Zoos want people to see the animals and so, in captivity, leopards are often prevented from engaging in their natural behaviors.
For just $3400, you can track and kill a leopard on a Big Game Hunting Trip. These trips are geared toward tourists. You list the animals you want to kill and the tour guides will take you to where you are likely to be able to kill them.
The bones of the leopard are used in traditional Asian medicine and are sometimes prescribed as a substitute for tiger bones in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and aching joints and muscles. Ironically, the success in controlling the trade in tiger parts may actually have led to greater risk for other cats.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not support any form of animal entertainment.
Do not purchase animal products.
Write to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators and tell them that you do not want your tax dollars spent on game hunting. Write to The Honorable __________, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; The Honorable __________, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Write to the conservation organizations that you want to support and ask them about their policies regarding game hunting and animal entertainment. Spend your well-intentioned donation wisely.
Overpopulation is not what's bringing about ecological catastrophe; overconsumption is. Overconsumption is the state where consumption surpasses the planet’s natural replenishing capabilities.
Living and consuming are interconnected activities. You can’t live without consuming. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, including goods and services such as electronics, furniture, appliances, cars, books, entertainment, and travel. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without.
Nowadays, we buy mainly to draw emotional satisfaction rather than meeting our actual needs. Advertising creates virtual problems and triggers negative feelings about them; then, it conveniently presents you with a solution. This cycle results in a deterioration of the quality of life, overworking, and overconsuming, which also damages the environment significantly.
Corporations manipulate consumers. They promise us privileges, connection, and happiness, which makes us keep buying more and more. The message’s effectiveness is so high that, despite being left in debt, overstressed, and buried under tons of possessions, we continue wanting more. But, worse of all, our overconsumption is based on our society’s reliance on it. The modern Western economy relies on us consuming more, so it focuses on fueling our wants and desires, and encourages us to upgrade more, buy more, waste more and pollute more.
Consuming Consequences To The Environment
This unrelenting consumption does not come free of charge. The natural world provides everything we consume, through mining, extraction, farming, and forestry – and there is a limit on the planet’s resources. As we keep consuming more and more, pursuing an elusive “comfortable” life, the planet is overstressed by this over-exploitation of soil, water, minerals, forests, fish, etc. As a result, species, habitats, and even entire ecosystems are collapsing. What’s more, with increased consumption comes more waste and pollution, compromising the quality of life’s very basic elements: air, water and land.
Consumption Consequences For Societies
Wealthier nations consume the biggest share of the Earth’s resources, depriving others of their fair share. 80 percent of the planet’s resources are consumed by a mere 17 percent of the total population. Valuable resources flow from the Earth’s South to the North. We exploit and use these resources to create services and goods for a small percentage of the population, instead of utilizing them to ensure that the rest of the world also has access to the essentials for life, such as water, food, health and sanitation. To satisfy the virtual needs of the rich, valuable resources are used up to produce meaningless items of luxury, further increasing the gap with the poor.
An Ecological Footprint measures the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources. Natural resources provide the materials for everything we use for our day to day activities and needs. The Eco-Footprint, calculated in acres or hectares, expresses how much bio-productive space a defined population needs to sustain its current levels of life and consumption.
The following resources are factored into the measurement:
Arable Land Required: how much land is needed for growing crops for fiber, food, animal feed, etc.
Forest Resources: the resources required for furniture, fuel, houses, etc., and for ensuring the ecosystems are secured from climate change and erosion.
Ocean Resources: water required for fish and related products.
Pasture Land Required: how much land is needed to raise animals for meat, dairy production, hides, etc.
Energy Costs: the amount of land needed to absorb carbon dioxide emissions and other waste products.
Infrastructure Needed: how much land is required for transportation and creating factories, houses, etc.
Land, water and air pollution, and species extinction, are not yet factored in for the calculation of this Eco-footprint.
The planet has a biocapacity of about 4.7 acres (1.9 hectares) per individual. On a global scale, we currently use 5.4 acres (2.2 hectares) per individual. This means that we have surpassed the Earth’s sustainable biocapacity by 15 percent, a deficit of 1 acre (0.3 hectares) per individual. This deficit is self-evident by the cascading failure of the natural ecosystems –oceans, forests, fisheries, rivers, coral reefs, water, soil, global warming, etc.
It is possible to estimate the Eco-Footprint for a single person, a city, a region, a country, and the whole world. Several countries are in the “red zone”, meaning they have a larger Ecological Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity, putting them into an “ecological deficit.” Conversely, countries that feature a smaller Eco-Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity are in “ecological reserve.”
Cities, states, and nations are put in ecological deficits by abolishing their natural resources, for example, by overfishing, with resource imports from elsewhere and by surpassing their ecosystem’s natural capacity of carbon dioxide absorption.
Overshoot is the phenomenon of the entire planet being put in an ecological deficit. Overshoot and ecological deficit are the same from a global point of view because it is impossible to import new resources to the planet.
Currently, our planet needs 1.5 years to replenish the resources we use in one year. We keep this overshoot by abolishing the planet’s resources. We have not taken seriously how big of a threat overshoot is to humanity’s future, and have not begun to address it properly.
Earth’s Ecological Limits
In contrast to the growing populations, economies and resource demands, Earth’s size doesn’t change. It is only possible to sustain an overshoot for a small window of time, after which ecosystems start degrading and collapse. Ecological overconsumption is becoming increasingly apparent in the form of desertification, deforestation, water shortages, soil erosion, reduced crop production, overgrazing, rapid extinction of species, fish declines, coral reefs collapse, and increased carbon levels in the atmosphere.
Data from the Global Footprint Network reveal that if our current level of demand remains the same, we would need a second Earth by the year 2030. Consuming at this same rate will endanger the future of large portions of the planet’s inhabitants.
It's Time To Move Beyond Recycling
Everyone must work together to reduce consumption — public and private sectors, poor and rich, men, women, and children. The one thing we all have in common is the planet we live on. However, the larger burden of responsibility to shift behaviors lies with the wealthier nations, which have to move beyond just separating metal, glass and plastic to not consuming so much of them in the first place.
More than 30 percent of the total waste in the world is produced in America, by less than 5 percent of the total population of the planet. Since we create most of the problem, we are burdened with a higher responsibility to change our behavioral pattern. If every person on the planet adopted the lifestyle of the average American, we would need five Earths.
We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests to determine the "safety" of cosmetics and household products. Substances ranging from eye shadow and soap to furniture polish and oven cleaner are tested on rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and other animals, despite the fact that test results do not help prevent or treat human illness or injury.
In eye irritancy tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered substance is dropped into the eyes of a group of albino rabbits. The animals are often immobilized in stocks from which only their heads protrude. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests. After placing the substance in the rabbits' eyes, laboratory technicians record the damage to the eye tissue at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours, with tests sometimes lasting 7 to 18 days. Reactions to the substances include swollen eyelids, inflamed irises, ulceration, bleeding, massive deterioration, and blindness. During the tests, the rabbits' eyelids are held open with clips. Many animals break their necks as they struggle to escape. The results of eye irritancy tests are questionable, as they vary from laboratory to laboratory-and even from rabbit to rabbit.
Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning tests, determine the amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to 100 percent, of a group of test animals. In these tests, a substance is forced by tube into the animals' stomachs or through holes cut into their throats. It may also be injected under the skin, into a vein, or into the lining of the abdomen; mixed into lab chow; inhaled through a gas mask; or introduced into the eyes, rectum, or vagina. Experimenters observe the animals' reactions, which can include convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The widely used lethal dose 50 (LD50) test was developed in 1927. The LD50 testing period continues until at least 50 percent of the animals die, usually in two to four weeks. Like eye irritancy tests, lethal dose tests are unreliable at best. Says Microbiological Associates' Rodger D. Curren, researchers looking for non-animal alternatives must prove that these in vitro models perform "at least as well as animal tests. But as we conduct these validation exercises, it's become more apparent that the animal tests themselves are highly variable." The European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods' Dr. Michael Ball puts it more strongly: "The scientific basis" for animal safety tests is "weak."
No law requires animal testing for cosmetics and household products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires only that each ingredient in a cosmetics product be "adequately substantiated for safety" prior to marketing or that the product carry a warning label indicating that its safety has not been determined. The FDA does not have the authority to require any particular product test. Likewise, household products, which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency that administers the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), do not have to be tested on animals. A summary of the CPSC's animal-testing policy, printed in the Federal Register, states, "[I]t is important to keep in mind that neither the FHSA nor the Commission's regulations require any firm to perform animal tests. The statute and its implementing regulations only require that a product be labeled to reflect the hazards associated with that product."
Testing methods, therefore, are determined by manufacturers. The very unreliability of animal tests may make them appealing to some companies, since these tests allow manufacturers to put virtually any product on the market. Companies can also use the fact that their products were tested to help defend themselves against consumer lawsuits. Others believe that testing on animals helps them compete in the marketplace. Consumers demand products with exciting new ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids, and animal tests are often considered the easiest and cheapest way to "prove" that new ingredients are "safe."
Such arguments carry little weight with the more than 500 manufacturers of cosmetics and household products that have shunned animal tests. These companies take advantage of the many alternatives available today, including cell cultures, tissue cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe by the FDA. Most cruelty-free companies use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as maintaining extensive databases of ingredient and formula information and employing in vitro tests and human clinical studies.
Caring consumers also play a vital role in eliminating cruel test methods. Spurred by public outrage, the European Union (EU) banned cosmetics tests on animals. In the United States, a survey by the American Medical Association found that 75 percent of Americans are against using animals to test cosmetics. Hundreds of companies have responded by switching to animal-friendly test methods. To help consumers identify products that are truly cruelty-free, a coalition of national animal protection groups has developed the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, which clarifies the non-animal-testing terminology and procedures used by manufacturers and makes available a cruelty-free logo for companies that are in compliance with the standard. Shoppers can support this initiative by purchasing products that comply with the corporate standard and boycotting those that don't and by asking local stores to carry cruelty-free items.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Everyone seeking to stop animal tests should urge government regulatory agencies and trade associations to accept non-animal test methods immediately. Never buy cosmetics and household products tested on animals.
Residents living in towns and cities can play a major role in ensuring insect pollinators survive and thrive around them.
With global bee and butterfly populations in decline, the nature of cities is shifting so that they often contain more diverse and abundant populations of native bees than nearby rural landscapes. However, urban conservation programs are largely lagging behind, in that they continue to invest in education and outreach rather than programs designed to achieve high-priority species conservation.
New research into urban ecology is changing how we view the biological value and ecological importance of cities globally. But in order to ensure this has a recognizable effect on issues such as global food security and ecosystem service provision, policies now need to be better aligned with this newly unfolding image of urban landscapes.
Urban gardens are increasingly being recognized for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. And by growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners can play an important role in ensuring that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. This international collaboration demonstrates those theories can also be applied globally, to the potential benefits of people and communities across the world.
Urban habitats have traditionally been rather neglected by ecologists and conservationists who are interested in pollinators. However, recent research globally has demonstrated that towns and cities can support large, diverse communities of bees and other insects that play an important role in pollinating urban food crops, particularly in gardens and allotments. It's important that we raise the profile of these insects to influence planning policies, ensuring that building and infrastructure development, as well as conservation strategies, takes this into account.
The diversity of people living in cities creates a diversity of aesthetic landscaping preferences, which in turn leads to a diversity of flowering plants which supports diverse populations of bees. And because native bees can live their entire lives in relatively small spaces when food sources are present, insect pollinators put high-priority and high-impact urban conservation within reach, and small actions can yield large benefits for pollinator conservation.
Recent research is also showing that improving the wild pollinator populations in urban areas improves species diversity and abundance in nearby agricultural lands. So intensifying conservation efforts for urban insect pollinators constitutes an opportunity for meaningful urban conservation, moving beyond traditional education and recreation programming towards a series of cascading benefits throughout rural and urban landscapes.
Because the world’s food security depends upon bees and other pollinators, attending to populations of urban pollinators is important. The global pollinator crisis is one environmental problem that an individual urban resident can do something about. There is no need to get a bee hive which can increase competition for resources with native bees. Simply plant more diverse flowers of different sizes, let valuable 'weeds' grow an extra week or two before mowing them from your lawn, leave some bare unmulched ground for solitary ground nesters, learn to appreciate the aesthetic of yards of others who plant for bees, and then watch the urban pollinators flourish.
Rattlesnake roundups take place from January through July in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Georgia. Roundups started as a misguided attempt to rid areas of rattlesnakes, but they have evolved into commercial events that promote animal cruelty and environmentally damaging behavior. Thousands of rattlesnakes are captured and slaughtered, or mistreated in competitive events that violate the basic principles of wildlife management and humane treatment of animals.
No other wild animal in the United States is as extensively exploited and traded without regulation or oversight as the rattlesnake. Several species could become extinct just as we are beginning to understand their ecological importance. Rattlesnakes are important to their ecosystems. They prey on rodents, keeping the populations naturally in check so that the rodents do not cause crop damage or spread disease. Rattlesnakes are also important prey for raptors and other animals. Four species commonly found in roundups are the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the western diamondback rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake, and the western or prairie rattlesnake.
The timber rattlesnake is listed as endangered or threatened in several states, but no federal or international laws currently protect this species. The western diamondback rattlesnake, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and the western or prairie rattlesnake are not protected anywhere in their ranges, nor are they protected by any federal or international laws. We must act now to save remaining rattlesnake populations and gather the knowledge necessary for developing long-term conservation strategies.
Most rattlesnakes in roundups are driven out of their dens with gasoline, then stored without water or food in unhygienic conditions, and crammed tightly into containers for transport to and display at roundup events. Many snakes arrive at these events starved, dehydrated, or crushed to death. Those who survive may be used in public demonstrations and daredevil acts. The rattlesnakes are eventually decapitated, a cruel and inefficient method of slaughter for reptiles.
Rattlesnake collection methods are highly destructive to the habitats of rattlesnakes and other burrow dwellers such as gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, box turtles, coachwhip snakes, pine snakes, southern toads, and gopher frogs, along with burrowing owls, raccoons, opossums, and at least 32 species of invertebrates. The most popular collection method is to spray gasoline or other toxic chemicals into rattlesnake dens and resting places, which can render a burrow uninhabitable for years. Once introduced into the soil, gasoline could contaminate groundwater—the primary water source for many rural communities—thus poisoning wildlife, livestock and humans.
Roundups pose other threats to human health, too. Contrary to claims of organizers, roundups increase the number of snake-bite incidents in the host communities. This is due to collection activities and competitive events that bring humans with little or no experience into direct contact with rattlesnakes. The bites that result must be treated with antivenin, thereby depleting the local supply of antivenin available to treat bites that are genuinely accidental and unavoidable.
Another hazard is the snake meat sold at roundups for human consumption. Rattlesnakes at roundups are typically killed under unhygienic conditions, and their meat, often improperly prepared, may be contaminated with Salmonella or other bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the handling of live snakes can also spread Salmonella. The CDC recommends that people most at risk—including children under five and people with weakened immune systems—avoid all contact with snakes and any items they’ve touched, including clothing. For others, the CDC advises that contact with reptiles in public settings should be limited to designated animal contact areas where there are adequate hand-washing facilities and no food or drink is allowed. It instructs all individuals to wash their hands thoroughly after touching a snake, though it warns that hand washing alone may not be enough to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Unfortunately, at most rattlesnake roundups, proper hand washing facilities are sparse, even though the snakes are sometimes handled by small children.
Organizers often attempt to legitimize roundups by claiming that they provide a supply of venom for antivenin, but their venom collection methods may not meet the strict guidelines for antivenin production required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Rather than add to the nation's supply of antivenin, roundups deplete it by encouraging behavior that leads to snake bites.
Many rattlesnake handlers and roundup organizers attempt to influence public perceptions about snakes with negative misinformation such as false bite statistics. Rattlesnake handlers typically promote their acts as "safety talks" or other sorts of public education. What the public actually sees, however, are demonstrations of extremely unsafe practices, which audience members may try later on their own. Permanent disfigurement or even death could result.
Roundups are a liability to the communities and corporations that sponsor them, as well as to the nonprofit organizations that benefit from them. Hosting communities, sponsoring corporations, and charities that accept proceeds from roundups unwittingly lend these cruel and ecologically unsound events undue credibility. Communities place themselves at financial risk because they may have to cover the cost of medical care for uninsured visitors who may be bitten; they may also face lawsuits or increased criminal activity as unintended outcomes of hosting roundups.
Conservation of endangered species may sound like a job for politicians and scientists. A problem of such proportions seems impossible to be tackled by the average person. But you can make a significant impact by adopting some simple habits; and if we all do the same, we have the power to protect endangered animals all over the world. Here are 10 ways you can make a difference for endangered species:
Reduce And Reuse
Reuse items in your household when you can, and buy products that produce less packaging waste. By purchasing second-hand furniture, clothes, electronics, and toys, you help reduce the energy consumption required to make new ones and produce less waste as well. Choose reusable bottles for beverages whenever you can. Use a reusable bag for your groceries, and carry your own container to the restaurant for the leftovers.
Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals In Your Household
Toxic chemicals used in laundry, housecleaning, dish washing and personal care products end up in underground waters, poisoning aquatic life and any animals that feed on them. Choose non-toxic products, or make your own.
Dispose Of Waste Properly
Recycle plastics, paper, metal cans and glass. When you take out your trash, see that the bag is sealed safely so you don’t litter by accident. Dangerous compounds such as car fluids, paint, bleach, batteries, pesticides, and other chemical substances should be disposed of properly at a specialized facility.
Prevent Soil Erosion
Take all necessary measures to prevent soil erosion and protect water resources close by used by wild animals. When you clear out vegetation, you must take all necessary precautions that any loose sediment is kept away from natural waterways, as it would consume all oxygen from the water and disrupt the habitat of the stream bed.
Maintain A Healthy Backyard Habitat
Populate your yard with native plants and ask the extension agent of your local community to help you fight off any invasive plant species. Replace toxic pesticides and herbicides with safer options. Sterilize bird feeders and baths often to stop diseases from spreading. Prevent wild animals from raiding pet bowls and trash cans by bringing pet food indoors overnight and securing your garbage in safely closed bins.
Support An Organization That Fights To Save Endangered Species
If you care a lot about saving a particular endangered habitat or species, seek out an organization who is on a mission that accommodates your concerns. Volunteer, donate or materialize your support by adopting your favorite endangered species.
Advocate For Conservation
Start studying about how you can assist in pressuring government officials on issue policies and decisions regarding endangered species. Stay informed on how to effectively engage in civilian advocacy by signing up to relevant newsletters.
Become a member of the League of Conservation Voters, a national non-profit that works toward turning environmental values into the nation’s priorities by promoting the adoption of fair environmental policies and electing candidates with eco-friendly views who will take ownership of, and implement, these policies.
Lead By Example
As you gain more insight about how to protect endangered wildlife, you will become more capable of conveying that knowledge to other people. It is more efficient to share your own relevant efforts and experiences with your friends and family, than simply flooding them with dos and don’ts. To lead by example is the most effective way to show people how to start changing their lives.
Reduce Or Remove Meat, Dairy And Eggs From Your Diet
The one action with the most pronounced impact on the preservation of the environment is to become a vegan. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the principle cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans. Enormous amounts of food, water, energy, and land are required to raise animals for food, on top of the immense animal suffering it causes. By opting to consume exclusively plant-based food, you aid in the rescue of our planet, while easing animal suffering at the same time.
There are many ways you can help to conserve important animals across the globe. Here are a few examples of things you can do to help support international conservation efforts:
Volunteer! Many conservation organizations depend on volunteers in your country and abroad. Do a web search to find an organization near you.
If you can't volunteer, donate. Wildlife conservation organizations require funding to carry out their critical missions of saving animals.
Wild animals do not make good “pets”, and it is illegal to buy endangered species. Wild animal belong in the wild. Rescue a companion animal from a shelter.
Learn more about threatened and endangered species and tell your friends! Lesser known species do not receive as much support as other more well-known species.
Read your labels! Palm oil plantations and animal agribusinesses are contributing to massive habitat loss around the world. Valuable forests and other ecosystems are being cleared at alarming rates. If palm oil is in your product, read the label to check if it was sustainably grown.
Be a conscious shopper when abroad. When you travel, it is important to think about what you are buying. When purchasing souvenirs or gifts for family and friends, think about where that item might have come from. Does it contain wildlife products? One of the main ways to limit the wildlife trade is to stop the demand for wildlife products. If you don’t know, don’t buy!
Be an eco-tourist and travel green. Eco-tourists are able to experience species in their natural habitat while supporting local livelihoods and conservation efforts. Sustainable and humane travel practices allow visitors to experience nature while limiting human impacts on wildlife.
Don't patronize zoos, circuses, aquariums and other forms of animal entertainment. Imprisoning wild animals for profit and human entertainment is cruel and unethical.
Buy local products and support the local economy. Support local communities’ livelihoods by purchasing unique, handcrafted goods that do not contain animal products.
If you see suspicious products, speak up. If abroad and you think you see wildlife or products derived from wildlife traded or sold illegally, let the local police or your hotel management know. If possible, warn fellow travelers in the same area.
Don't buy wildlife products, whether they are legal or illegal.
Reduce or eliminate all animal product purchases. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, habitat loss and greenhouse gases – which are the leading causes of species extinction. Make the connection.
Hiding in a tree or behind a blind, hunters lie in wait. They are waiting for the bears to take the bait—usually a large pile of food or a 55-gallon drum stuffed with food. Bears can feed at this free trough for days before taking a bullet, while others, deemed unworthy of hanging in someone's trophy room, can dine for the entire bear-hunting season.
Having learned to find food where humans have been, they may become "problem bears" who wander into back yards and upend garbage cans looking for an easy meal.
Hunters claim that the fundamental principle of hunting is "fair chase," but there is nothing fair about bear baiting. In fact, there is not even a chase. An animal is lured to an area and shot while she is eating. The federal government bans the baiting of migratory birds because it's unfair. Most states ban the baiting of deer and elk and other big game for the same reason. There's no logical reason to allow such an unfair practice to persist in bear hunting.
The hunters typically take the head and hide as trophies and, in rare instances, even pack out the meat, which usually turns out to be less food than they had brought in with them.
The U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service all publish materials telling the public not to feed bears. The Forest Service, for instance, puts out materials that warn "A fed bear is a dead bear," "Do Not Feed Bears!" and "Bears Are Dangerous!"
Bear baiting is banned in some states that allow bear hunting.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Contact your state wildlife agency. If bear baiting is legal in your state, express your outrage to state officials and to your governor.
Write letters to the editor of newspapers in your state and contact the media to investigate.
Submit an Op-Ed to your local newspaper.
Attend state wildlife agency meetings and demand that steps be taken to prohibit bear baiting.
Contact your state legislators and ask them to introduce legislation to ban this practice.
In the last decades, the disease Lyme borreliosis that is spread by ticks has been increasing – but this increase cannot be explained by the increasing deer populations. Results from research projects show that the percentage of ticks with Borrelia is decreasing in areas with a high deer population (deer, red deer and moose). However, the total number of ticks is higher.
Evidence points to a warmer climate contributing to tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, is also a contributing factor.
Since 1991 Norway has registered all incidents with borreliosis in a so-called MSIS-statistics for reportable diseases. At the same time data on the wild deer population over all of Norway has been recorded. As a result, Norway has a unique set of data material for comparing the relation between the disease progression over time.
What the data shows is that borreliosis has increased more than the density of deer would suggest. The incidence of borreliosis has increased in the southern part of Norway in a period of time where both the deer population and the moose population have decreased. We cannot blame the deer for getting more of these blood-sucking parasites.
The cycle of the Borrelia bacterium in nature is both complex and is influenced by many different drivers, where the hosts of the ticks in an early life stage can influence the cycle. There is also little doubt that a warmer climate is a contributing factor for the tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, has also been an advantage for the ticks.
Ticks have a life cycle that is threefold; larva, nymph, and adult ticks. They need a blood meal in each of the life stages, but they may have different hosts at different stages. In the first stage it is rodents and birds that become victims of these parasites. In the second stage they usually suck blood from slightly larger animals. It is in the last stage that the tick is an adult and needs blood for reproduction. Then the host is usually a large animal like deer. Deer are therefore frequently referred to as reproductive hosts, and were thought to be important for the population dynamics of the ticks.
Ticks are born pure. That is why the hosts in the first life stage of the tick determine whether it will be a carrier of infection or not. Ticks can therefore only be infected in the second and third stage. In the third stage, they are quite large, and we often feel them crawling on the skin. Therefore nymphs are more often inflicting infection, because we do not notice their bite.
Deer contribute to keeping the ticks clean since they are not carriers of the Borrelia-bacteria. Therefore ticks that have used deer as a host do not contain Borrelia that can infect us.
Shooting deer and moose will not eradicate ticks. The population density will not limit the amount of ticks strongly. It is time to stop blaming the deer.
In 1971, more letters poured into Congress over the threat to our nation’s wild horses than over any issue in U.S. history, except for the Vietnam War. And so Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, declaring that “wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) were appointed to implement the Act. Most herd areas are under BLM jurisdiction.
Fast-forward thirty years: in 2001, after decades of failed herd management policies, the BLM obtained a 50% increase in annual budget to $29 million for implementation of an aggressive removal campaign; in 2004, the 1971 Act was surreptitiously amended, without so much as a hearing or opportunity for public review, opening the door to the sale of thousands of wild horses to slaughter for human consumption abroad.
Injuries, abortions, trauma and death are the common results of wild horse round-ups (or “gathers,” to use a placating euphemism). Horses seen galloping during a round-up are terrified wild animals chased by helicopter and running for their lives. It has been documented that, long after they have been adopted out, BLM-captured horses will still react in terror to a helicopter flying overhead.
As wild horses are driven into holding pens, closely-knit family bands are broken up; foals may be separated from their mothers, trampled, or sometimes, too exhausted to keep up with the herd, left behind to fend for themselves out on the range; stallions, suddenly crammed in close quarters, will fight. At the holding site, BLM makes “liberal” use of its euthanasia policy: horses with physical defects such as club-feet are euthanized, including adults that had managed to thrive for years in the wild.
ABUSE, NEGLECT & SECRECY
BLM routinely turns a blind eye on abuse by its two main round-up contractors. To quote an eye-witness to the 2006 Sulphur round-up in Utah: “In all my life I have never seen such blatant abuse and neglect and just plain lack of compassion for horses, or animals in general for that matter.” It is not uncommon for contractors to drag a listless body into the round-up pen to collect their fee, as they get paid per horse, dead or alive.
Round-ups are often conducted in secrecy, with heavy police presence to keep the public at bay. Once in a while, BLM and its contractors will invite the public and the media to a carefully staged capture, where a few horses are trotted into a pen. Members of the public are positioned at the holding pens, usually during the first few days of a round-up, so they are generally witnessing the horses coming in from areas closest to the round-up site. As days go by, the further out the wranglers go, the more challenging for the horses who are run in large numbers over much longer distances.
THE REAL REASON
The current situation is the result of a long history of failed policies, land allocation issues, and an intricate money trail. The BLM and the USFS, among others, are responsible for managing the nation’s public lands and are foremost the managers of wild horses and burros. Their responsibilities also include issuing public land grazing permits to cattle ranchers. These grazing permits cover limited areas of public land that are available for lease. So, for every wild horse removed from a grazing permit allotment, a fee-paying cow gets to take its place, and a public land rancher gets the benefit of public land forage at bargain rates. This is the number one reason wild horses are removed from public lands.
PLAYING WITH NUMBERS
The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandated that wild horses be managed at their then-current population level, officially estimated by the BLM at 17,000 (three years later, BLM’s first census found over 42,000 horses). To the horses' detriment, both sides agreed to allow the government to manage wild horse populations at that “official” 1971 level. Eleven years later, a study by the National Academy of Sciences found BLM’s 1971 estimate to have been “undoubtedly low to an unknown, but perhaps substantial, degree,” given subsequent census results and taking into account the horses' growth rate and the number of horses since removed. But the damage had already been done; management levels had been etched in stone, and processes for removal of "excess" horses were well in place.
The fact is that the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report and two General Accounting Office reports have countered key points in BLM's premise for its current herd reduction campaign. These government-sanctioned documents concluded that: (i) horses reproduce at a much slower rate than BLM asserts, (ii) wild horse forage use remains a small fraction of cattle forage use on public ranges, (iii) “despite congressional direction, BLM did not base its removal of wild horses from federal rangeland on how many horses ranges could support,” and (iv) “BLM was making its removal decisions on the basis of an interest in reaching perceived historic population levels, or the recommendations of advisor groups largely composed of livestock permittees.”
From over 2 million in the 1800s, America’s wild horse population has dwindled to fewer than 33,000. There are now more wild horses in government holding pens than remain in the wild, with many of the remaining herds managed at population levels that do not guarantee their long-term survival. Still, the round-ups continue.
Over the past forty years, federal law enacted by the people on behalf of their wild horses has been ignored. No strategic plan to keep viable herds of wild horses on public lands was ever developed.
Environmentalism is an integration of the ideology and philosophy of protecting the health of the environment and the social movement resulting from it. Issues such as conservation, preservation, ecosystem restoration, and improvement of the natural environment are foremost on the agenda of environmentalists. Concerns and threats involving the Earth's biodiversity and ecology feature at the top of the list.
To be an environmentalist, follow the simple steps given below.
1. Choose Your Cause
Discover what you are passionate about and do some research. There are a variety of environmental issues that will pique your interest. Protection of endangered species, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding wastage of natural resources, restoration of age-old landscapes, protecting forests, and encouraging recycling are some of the causes environmentalists support. Learning about environmental issues in your own locality, and taking a part in solving them, is a good way to get involved.
2. Use Your Talents
Take measure of your talents. Are you an extrovert and like to communicate verbally with people? Are you introverted and more inclined towards writing than to speaking? Do you like to communicate and spread your thoughts in words through correspondences? Are you someone who likes being out in nature? Can you play an instrument, sing, bake, paint or juggle? Your unique talents can contribute to bringing attention to, and raising funds for, environmental efforts. Consider getting involved in events, fundraisers and campaigns for conservation issues.
3. Educate Yourself, Then Educate Others
Get yourself acquainted with how the Earth works and how human activities are affecting it. To make sense out of the multitude of environmental issues and the science behind it, read magazines, books and articles, watch documentaries, and browse websites relating to nature. Share what you learn with family, friends, coworkers and associates. Use social media to spread the word on environmental issues.
4. Get Connected
Get in touch with other like-minded people or experts in the field. Getting connected with people, especially experts on the environment, is an important step on the way to becoming an environmentalist. Conduct searches on the web for people and organizations who share your thoughts and concerns. Join organizations, groups, websites and social media channels that promote your cause – or create your own. Learn from the experts and help make a bigger impact by joining forces with other people, groups and nonprofits who share your passion for environmentalism.
5. Clean Up Litter
Pick up litter wherever you go and whenever you can. Litter not only dirties roads, parks and public spaces, it also pollutes the environment. It harms wildlife that comes into contact with it. You can pickup litter on your own in your spare time, or join or organize groups to clean up large areas.
6. Go Outside
Visit places like wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, and parks. Support their efforts. Volunteer. Enjoy the natural beauty of these places, observe animals and their behavior, and encourage others to do the same. Communicate to people in your social circles why these protected places are important.
7. Go Native
Grow native plants in your backyard. Invasive species wreak havoc on ecosystems. Native plants are better adapted to the area where you live and need minimum caring. They are less vulnerable to pests and will benefit birds, insects and other wildlife endemic to your locality.
8. Plant Trees
The more trees you plant the more you help the environment. Trees absorb harmful CO2, prevent their emission and alleviate global warming. They provide food and shelter for wild animals. Plant trees on your property, and help plant trees in your community.
9. Go Organic
Consuming organic food and using organic gardening methods contributes towards a safer, healthier environment. Minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers stimulates beneficial soil organisms and results in less polluted waste-water flowing out of your garden. Moreover, it creates a much healthier environment for wildlife, your children and your companion animals.
10. Go Green
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink. Reduce the amount of materials you use, which reduces the amount of waste you create. Reuse materials when possible. Recycle whenever possible. Rethink the materials you use and those you throw away. By thinking about what we're using and how to reduce the wast we produce, we can help create a cleaner, healthier environment.
11. Go Without
Cut back your consumption. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, and far more than we should. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without. We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
12. Eat More Veggies
Animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than aircrafts, automobiles and trains combined. Forests are being cleared at alarming rates to feed grains to livestock that could feed the entire human race. Less trees means less impediments to CO2 being released into the air and thus more pollution. Animal waste is producing massive amounts of toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain. Animal agriculture is also destroying our waterways and using up our valuable water supplies. Hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals run off into rivers, lakes, streams and our drinkable water. These practices cause dead zones in the oceans, rivers and lakes. Animal farming is the leading cause of the catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat, and the problem is escalating at a disturbing pace. Meat production is slated to double in another four decades. Remove or reduce meat, dairy and eggs from your diet.
There are eight types of bear in the world: polar bears, brown (or grizzly) bears, American black bears, Asiatic black bears, sun bears, sloth bears, spectacled bears and giant panda bears. Some are on the verge of extinction, but all face threats.
LOSS OF HABITAT
Probably the biggest threat to bears worldwide is the loss of their habitat and, with it, the loss of their food source. Giant Pandas rely on bamboo forests for their food, but many of these have been cut down by Chinese farmers. It is believed that there are now only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild. Asian black bears are also listed as endangered due to the loss of their habitat.
Other threats include:
In China, bears are imprisoned in farms and 'milked' for their bile daily. The bile is used in Eastern medicine. Bears are taken from the wild for this trade, jeopardizing the survival of bears in the wild. There are hundreds of bear farms housing thousands of bears, mostly Asiatic black bears. These are listed in Appendix 1 of CITES.
BEAR PARKS & ZOOS
Japan is home to eight bear parks, in which bears are confined to concrete pits. Here, they are denied their most basic requirements and are often confined to small spaces without access to shade or shelter. The public tease and torment the bears by throwing in 'bear biscuits' and watching the fights that ensue. Injuries sustained are often not treated. Repetitive behavior is not unusual among bears kept in zoos, and is indicative of stress and psychological trauma. Some of the animals may be obtained illegally. Sun bears were found in a zoo in Indonesia with forged documentation claiming that they had died. Sun bears are endangered.
Over 1,000 bears in India 'dance' on their hind legs for up to 12 hours a day to entertain tourists. The cubs are captured in the wild and traded, even though this has been illegal since 1972. Once sold, the young cub will have his or her muzzle pierced so the handler can control the bear. This is an invasive procedure and infection is common. Due to the stress of capture, the terrible transportation conditions, starvation, dehydration and rough handling, 60-70 percent of bear cubs captured die even before the training begins. Training involves starvation and beatings in order to make the bears rise up onto their back legs. The bears' teeth may be wrenched out and sold as charms to tourists. During their brief lifetime - rarely beyond eight years, in contrast to their natural 30-year life span in the wild - respiratory infection is common, caused by the constant walking along dusty streets.
Although illegal in every country, bear baiting remains a popular past-time in Pakistan, where politicians and senior police officers can still be found watching the show. A series of dogs are set upon a chained bear who must fight for his or her life. The dogs and the bear sustain horrendous injuries.
Black and brown bears are routinely hunted in North America. In all but the most isolated habitat areas, brown bears have been eliminated from much of their former range. In North America, numbers have declined rapidly.
FOOD & MEDICINE
Sun bears are eaten in some countries and their claws are collected as 'good luck' charms. Asiatic black bears are also hunted for their meat and their paws are eaten as a delicacy. Their bile and bones are also used, as they are believed to possess medicinal properties. Hunting spectacled bears is illegal, but they are still routinely poached and their bones, gallbladders and fat used for medicines. The gall bladders of sloth bears are also prized for medical treatments. Because of the cruelty involved and the scarcity of sloth bears, India has banned the hunting of the sloth bear and the sale of products made from their gallbladders.
THE PET TRADE
Like many wild animals, some bears are traded and collected as exotic pets, although they are unsuitable companion animals.
Bears are still used in circuses around the world. Polar bears and brown bears are made to perform tricks like 'dancing', roller-skating or riding bikes. While bears aren't seen in circus performances in Britain, campaigners say that British circuses still own bears and hire them out to do television commercials and other TV appearances.
Vivisection, the practice of experimenting on animals, began because of religious prohibitions against the dissection of human corpses. When religious leaders finally lifted these prohibitions, it was too late - vivisection was already entrenched in medical and educational institutions.
Estimates of the number of animals tortured and killed annually in U.S. laboratories diverge widely - from 17 to 70 million animals. The Animal Welfare Act requires laboratories to report the number of animals used in experiments, but the Act does not cover mice, rats, and birds (used in some 80 to 90 percent of all experiments). Because these animals are not covered by the Act, they remain uncounted and we can only guess at how many actually suffer and die each year.
The largest breeding company in the United States is Charles River Breeding Laboratories (CRBL) headquartered in Massachusetts and owned by Bausch and Lomb. It commands 40-50 percent of the market for mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rhesus monkeys, imported primates, and miniature swine.
Since mice and rats are not protected under Animal Welfare Act regulations, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not require that commercial breeders of these rodents be registered or that the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspect such establishments.
Dogs and cats are also used in experiments. They come from breeders like CRBL, some animal shelters and pounds, and organized "bunchers" who pick up strays, purchase litters from unsuspecting people who allow their companion animals to become pregnant, obtain animals from "Free to a Good Home" advertisements, or trap and steal the animals. Birds, frogs, pigs, sheep, cattle, and many naturally free-roaming animals (e.g., prairie dogs and owls) are also common victims of experimentation. Animals traditionally raised for food are covered by Animal Welfare Act regulations only minimally, and on a temporary basis, when used in, for example, heart transplant experiments; but they are not covered at all when used in agriculture studies. Unfortunately, vivisectors are using more and more animals whom they consider less "cute," because, although they know these animals suffer just as much, they believe people won't object as strenuously to the torture of a pig or a rat as they will to that of a dog or a rabbit.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States is the world's largest funder of animal experiments. It dispenses seven billion tax dollars in grants annually, of which about $5 billion goes toward studies involving animals. The Department of Defense spent about $180 million on experiments using 553,000 animals in 1993. Although this figure represents a 36% increase in the number of animals used over the past decade, the military offered no detailed rationale in its own reports or at Congressional hearings. Examples of torturous taxpayer-funded experiments at military facilities include wound experiments, radiation experiments, studies on the effects of chemical warfare, and other deadly and maiming procedures.
Private institutions and companies also invest in the vivisection industry. Many household product and cosmetics companies still pump their products into animals' stomachs, rub them onto their shaved, abraded skin, squirt them into their eyes, and force them to inhale aerosol products. Charities, such as the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes, use donations from private citizens to fund experiments on animals.
Agricultural experiments are carried out on cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys to find ways in which to make cows produce more milk, sheep produce more wool, and all animals produce more offspring and grow "meatier."
There are many reasons to oppose vivisection. For example, enormous physiological variations exist among rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs, and human beings. A 1989 study to determine the carcinogenicity of fluoride illustrated this fact. Approximately 520 rats and 520 mice were given daily doses of the mineral for two years. Not one mouse was adversely affected by the fluoride, but the rats experienced health problems including cancer of the mouth and bone. As test data cannot accurately be extrapolated from a mouse to a rat, it can't be argued that data can accurately be extrapolated from either species to a human.
In many cases, animal studies do not just hurt animals and waste money; they harm and kill people, too. The drugs thalidomide, Zomax, and DES were all tested on animals and judged safe but had devastating consequences for the humans who used them. A General Accounting Office report, released in May 1990, found that more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1976 and 1985 caused side effects that were serious enough to cause the drugs to be withdrawn from the market or relabeled. All of these drugs had been tested on animals.
Animal experimentation also misleads researchers in their studies. Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the oral polio vaccine, cited in testimony at a congressional hearing this example of the dangers of animal-based research: "[p]aralytic polio could be dealt with only by preventing the irreversible destruction of the large number of motor nerve cells, and the work on prevention was delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys."
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that sophisticated non-animal research methods are more accurate, less expensive, and less time-consuming than traditional animal-based research methods. Patients waiting for helpful drugs and treatments could be spared years of suffering if companies and government agencies would implement the efficient alternatives to animal studies. Fewer accidental deaths caused by drugs and treatments would occur if stubborn bureaucrats and wealthy vivisectors would use the more accurate alternatives. And tax dollars would be better spent preventing human suffering in the first place through education programs and medical assistance programs for low-income individuals--helping the more than 30 million U.S. citizens who cannot afford health insurance--rather than making animals sick. Most killer diseases in this country (heart disease, cancer, and stroke) can be prevented by eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet, refraining from smoking and alcohol abuse, and exercising regularly. These simple lifestyle changes can also help prevent arthritis, adult-onset diabetes, ulcers, and a long list of other illnesses.
It is not surprising that those who make money experimenting on animals or supplying vivisectors with cages, restraining devices, food for caged animals (like the Lab Chow made by Purina Mills), and tiny guillotines to destroy animals whose lives are no longer considered useful insist that nearly every medical advance has been made through the use of animals. Although every drug and procedure must now be tested on animals before hitting the market, this does not mean that animal studies are invaluable, irreplaceable, or even of minor importance or that alternative methods could not have been used.
Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic, explains, "I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil."
Dr. Edward Kass, of the Harvard Medical School, said in a speech he gave to the Infectious Disease Society of America: "[I]t was not medical research that had stamped out tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia and puerperal sepsis; the primary credit for those monumental accomplishments must go to public health, sanitation and the general improvement in the standard of living brought about by industrialization."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Concerned people should write to their congressional representatives and demand an end to wasteful and inaccurate animal studies in favor of human-based research and treatments that actually help people. The National Institutes of Health, the world's largest funder of research, must be pushed to fund more preventive programs and human-based research. Meanwhile, avoid purchasing any drug unless absolutely necessary. Remember, the manufacture and sale of pharmaceuticals is big business. If you must take a drug, ask your doctor what clinical studies, not animal tests, reveal about the drug.
Each year thousands of seals are killed in Canada. The seals suffer painful and lingering deaths. The weapon used is a club, the brutal hakapik. Sometimes the seals are skinned alive. Sealers often use sharpened steel hooks to drag the creatures on board their vessels. Seal-clubbing is justified by the Canadian government because its victims are adversely affecting the profits of the Newfoundland fishing industry.
A harp seal can be legally killed as soon as it has begun to moult its white hair, around 2 weeks after birth. Adult seals are also killed. The seal hunt is one of the very few hunts that occurs in the spring when young are being born. As a result, roughly 80% of the seals killed in the commercial hunt are 'young of the year' - between approximately 12 days and 1 year old.
Younger seals (ragged jackets and beaters) are usually killed on the ice with clubs or hakapiks (a device resembling a heavy ice-pick). Later in the season, beaters and older seals are usually shot with a rifle, both on the ice and in the water. It is also legal to use a shotgun firing slugs. It is illegal to deliberately capture seals using nets, although seals are often caught incidentally in nets set for other fisheries.
Six species of seals -- including the harp, hooded, grey, ringed, bearded and harbour -- are found off the Atlantic coast of Canada. Harp and hooded seals are the two most common species hunted commercially.
Although harp seals make up 95% of the commercial hunt, they are not the only seals hunted in Atlantic Canada: there is also a quota for 10,000 hooded seals, and in recent years small numbers of grey seals have been hunted for commercial use. In addition to the commercial hunts, seals of all species are taken for subsistence purposes in Labrador and the Canadian Arctic, and harp and hooded seals may be killed for personal use by residents of sealing regions. The seal hunt quota was introduced in 1971.
The majority of seal pelts are still exported to Norway for processing. The seal pelts are either used for furs or leather. A small amount of seal meat, particularly the flippers, is consumed locally by Newfoundlanders, and some claim it to have an aphrodisiac effect. Seal penises are shipped to Asian markets and can sell for upwards of $500 US each. Penises are often dried and consumed in capsule form or in a tonic.
Seal hunting is inhumane. Groups have campaigned on the issue for years and their evidence shows all the horror of the hunt -- dragging conscious seal pups across the ice with sharpened boat hooks, stockpiling of dead and dying animals, beating and stomping seals, and skinning seals alive. In 2002, an international team of veterinary experts attended the hunt. They observed sealers at work from the air and from the ground, and performed post-mortems on 73 seal carcasses.
Their study concluded that:
79% of the sealers did not check to see if an animal was dead before skinning it.
In 40% of the kills, a sealer had to strike the seal a second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or shot.
Up to 42% of the seals they examined were likely skinned alive.
Many people remember the worldwide protest that arose in the 1970s over Canada’s killing of whitecoat seal pups (under two weeks old). The massive protest, with international campaigning against the Canadian seal hunt during the 70s & 80s, led to the European Union ban on the importation of whitecoat pelts in 1983, and eventually to the Canadian government banning large-vessel commercial whitecoat hunting in 1987.
Canada's cod fishery collapsed in the early 90s, and some in Canada blamed the seals, despite the fact that the greatest cause was clearly decades of over-fishing by humans. The collapse of fisheries around Newfoundland, due to mismanagement, is a major driver in the expansion of the seal hunt.
Although the Canadian seal hunt is the largest in the world and has the highest profile internationally, sealing is also carried out in a number of other countries across the world including Greenland, Namibia, Russia, Norway and Sweden.
Switching to a vegan lifestyle is accompanied with so many benefits (environmental, animal compassion, healthier living) that the real question you should ask is, “Why not?” By switching to a vegan lifestyle, you will see your health drastically improve, your negative environmental impact will diminish, and you will help save millions of animals worldwide.
Veganism And Health
There is clear and overwhelming medical evidence that the incidence of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes is much less among vegans; obesity as well. Vegans are usually in better physical condition; their food has far lower levels of pesticides; and their immune systems work much better.
The largest epidemiological study to date, commonly referred to as “The China study”, showed that people who consume meat and animal products in quantities similar to those in a typical American diet are 17 times more likely to die from heart disease, and 5 times more likely to suffer from breast cancer, than those whose animal-derived protein comprises less than 5 percent of their total diet.
The concentration of pesticides in meat is 14 times higher than plant foods, because these chemicals accumulate as they progress through the food chain, and they are fat-soluble. Six years after the banning of dieldrin, a pesticide, the USDA confiscated and destroyed 2,000,000 packages of frozen turkey products with high dieldrin concentrations. In 1974, in tests run by the FDA, dieldrin was discovered in 85 percent of all dairy products and in 99.5 percent of the country’s human population.
According to the EPA, vegetarian mothers produce breast milk that has much lower pesticide concentrations than the average American.
In a study published in the NEJM, it was reported that the highest contamination level of vegetarians was lower than the lowest contamination level of non-vegetarians. Mean contamination in vegetarians was only 1 to 2 percent as much as the national average.
Veganism And The Environment
Veganism is a choice that has more positive impact on energy, land, water, ecosystems and wildlife than any other. This is due to livestock consuming several times more grain than their meat output. What’s more, harvesting and transportation of animal-derived products requires huge amounts of energy, and massive quantities of water for the animals and the crops they are fed – not to mention the disturbing amount of pesticides used.
If all countries around the world adopted American diet habits, fossil fuel reserves would be depleted in just eleven years. Plant foods with the worst energy efficiency are ten times more efficient than the most efficient meat food. If we went vegetarian as a nation, our oil imports would be reduced by 60 percent.
More than 50 percent of the nation’s water consumption goes to water the crops that feed livestock. You need 100 times more water for meat production. One day’s food in the typical American diet requires 4,000 gallons of water. Conversely, vegetarian food needs 1,200 gallons, and vegan food just 300 gallons. When you eat the typical American diet, just to grow enough food for three days you need to use as much water as you need to shower every day for the whole year.
Livestock in America produces 20 times more waste than humans, a jaw-dropping 250 thousand pounds per second. The waste produced by a large feedlot rivals that of a large city – and feedlots don't have sewage systems. This results in animal waste ending up in lakes and rivers, increasing their pollution of phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, and microorganisms, thereby depleting oxygen and killing animal and plant life. The meat industry produces 300 percent more harmful organic waste than all the other industries in the country combined.
To produce food for the average American diet, 10 times more land is needed compared to a vegetarian one. 20 thousand pounds of potatoes vs. only 165 pounds of beef can come out of an acre of land. In the United States alone, in order to support our meat-based diet, 260 million acres of forest have been turned over to agriculture, accounting for more than one acre per person. Forests are destroyed at a rate of 1 acre every 5 seconds. Seven acres of forest are turned into grazing or crop fields for animal feeding for every acre cleared for urban development.
Almost 85 percent of all lost topsoil is directly related to livestock farming. According to the USDA, topsoil loss has caused crop productivity to drop by as much as 70 percent. Almost 500 years are required for the formation of one inch of topsoil under natural conditions. Conversely, vegan diets demand less than 5 percent of the topsoil needed for meat-based diets.
Moral Benefits Of Veganism
Animal suffering is nobody’s objective, but we often forget that it’s inevitable when we eat them. The one most effective action an individual can perform to ease the suffering of animals is to simply remove them from your diet.
We kill approximately 8 billion animals every year to produce food in the U.S. alone, which accounts for more than the planet’s entire human population. It is estimated that around 24 animals die every year for one American to feed on them. To make things worse, modern agriculture has been raising animals in small confinement facilities, far removed from the traditional image of the beautiful-looking pasture – a method called factory farming.
Most factory farmed animals are raised in tiny cages with no room to move. They are deprived of exercise so that all of their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption. Massive amounts of potent drugs are fed to the animals to stop them from becoming sick due to their filthy living conditions, and to boost their production faster than their natural development would dictate. When chickens and cows become less productive in eggs and milk, they are killed and turned into low-quality meat (pet food and fast food).
Cattle raised for beef are usually born in one state, fattened in another, and slaughtered in yet another. They are fed an unnatural diet of high-bulk grains and other "fillers" (including sawdust). They are castrated, de-horned, and branded without anesthetics. During transportation, cattle are crowded into metal trucks where they suffer from fear, injury, temperature extremes, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care. Calves raised for veal are taken from their mothers only a few days after birth, chained in stalls only 22 inches wide with slatted floors that cause severe leg and joint pain. They are fed a milk substitute laced with hormones but deprived of iron: anemia keeps their flesh pale and tender but makes the calves very weak. When they are slaughtered at the age of about 16 weeks, they are often too sick or crippled to walk. One out of every 10 calves dies in confinement.
Ninety percent of all pigs are closely confined at some point in their lives, and 70 percent are kept constantly confined. Sows are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal "iron maiden" stalls, unable to turn around. Although pigs are naturally peaceful and social animals, they resort to cannibalism and tailbiting when packed into crowded pens and develop neurotic behaviors when kept isolated and confined. They often contract dysentery, cholera, trichinosis, and other diseases fostered by factory farming.
Chickens are divided into two groups: layers and broilers. Five to six laying hens are kept in a 14-inch-square mesh cage, and cages are often stacked in many tiers. Conveyor belts bring in food and water and carry away eggs and excrement. Because the hens are severely crowded, they are kept in semi-darkness and their beaks are cut off with hot irons (without anesthetics) to keep them from pecking each other to death from stress. The wire mesh of the cages rubs their feathers off, chafes their skin, and cripples their feet. Approximately 20 percent of the hens raised under these conditions die of stress or disease. At the age of one to two years, their overworked bodies decline in egg production and they are slaughtered (chickens would normally live 15-20 years).
More than six billion "broiler" chickens are raised in sheds each year. Lighting is manipulated to keep the birds eating as often as possible, and they are killed after only nine weeks. Despite the heavy use of pesticides and antibiotics, up to 60 percent of chickens sold at the supermarket are infected with live salmonella bacteria.
Farm animals are sentient beings that experience all the same emotions we do. They deserve our respect and compassion. The easiest and most effective way to reduce the cruelty inflicted on farm animals is to become vegan.
“Lightning bugs” or “fireflies” are actually beetles, nocturnal members of the aptly named Lampyridae family. Fireflies have special cells that, when the insects takes in oxygen, combine it with a substance called luciferin. This chemical process takes place in dedicated organs located under the fireflies’ abdomens and produces the light. Fireflies flash their light in patterns that are unique to each of the 2,000 species of firefly. They are communicating with their light, each blinking pattern an optical signal to a potential mate.
Sadly, as with so many of the Earth’s creatures, fireflies are disappearing all over the world. The clearing of forests, the destruction of wetlands, the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture and on residential lawns and gardens are all to blame. But the lovely firefly may suffer from something we might not think about - light pollution. It is likely that light from development and traffic may contribute to the firefly’s decline. Ambient light may be responsible for reducing firefly numbers by disrupting their mating signals, making it harder for them to find mates and breed.
You can support firefly populations by following these simple steps. If you make your property or garden a firefly haven, the beauty of their light will more than repay you for your time and effort.
DO NOT CATCH THE FIREFLIES
Adult fireflies live only long enough to mate and lay eggs. Catching fireflies in glass jars is a nostalgic pastime for children on a summer’s evening, but how sad it is to waste one precious moment of a firefly’s brief existence trapped in a glass prison. Let them find their mates and complete their life cycle without disturbance.
KEEP YOUR BACKYARD IN THE DARK
Turn off exterior lights and remove even solar garden lights. If you have bright interior lighting, draw your drapes and lower your blinds at night.
LEAVE ROTTING LOGS AND LEAVES ON THE GROUND
Provide firefly larvae the conditions they need to grow to the adult, breeding stage. Allow some of the branches and leaf litter that fall naturally from the trees on your property to remain under the trees. Or cut them up and tuck the logs into your garden. Use bark mulch, preferably large nuggets, around your plantings to create a thick layer of organic, moisture retaining material.
CHOOSE PLANTS THAT CONSERVE MOISTURE
Solomon’s Seal, iris and hydrangea are a few plants that shade the ground beneath them. To create even more shade for the fireflies, plant low growing plants like wild ginger under the taller plants. Beds thickly planted in this way are like mini jungles, perfect for not only fireflies, but also toads and other moisture loving animals.
CREATE A WATER GARDEN
Any source of water will bring fireflies to congregate. A water garden will attract them and if you plant the edges of your pond with bog plants and keep it moist, the fireflies will stay and hopefully breed there. Chemically treated ponds and pools are not a natural environment for anything. A balanced water garden does not need chemicals.
DO NOT USE PESTICIDES
Pesticides and weed killers have had their effect on firefly populations. (It is widely believed that their use has also negatively impacted the honey bee.) Firefly larvae may eat insects that have been poisoned after eating plants that have been sprayed. The larvae are then poisoned as well.
USE NATURAL FERTILIZERS
Artificial chemicals rarely mix with nature, and many of the harmful chemicals found in pesticides are also found in fertilizers. It is very possible that chemical fertilizers harm firefly populations and the populations of other beneficial insects. Your garden can flourish beautifully with natural fertilizers such as compost. And fertilizing your lawn just makes more work for you and costs you and the Earth more in gasoline.
DON’T OVER-MOW YOUR LAWN
Fireflies stay mostly on the ground during the day and fly at night. Frequent mowing disturbs them. Fireflies prefer to live in long grasses. So mowing less often and leaving some areas of long grass may increase their numbers in your yard.
A firefly habitat needs trees to create shade. Shade and low light areas give the fireflies more time to find a mate. Fast-growing shade trees include Red Maple, River Birch, Tulip and most pine trees. Also, if left to accumulate, leaf litter and the fallen needles of pines will provide a habitat for the worms and slugs that firefly larvae eat.
SPREAD THE WORD
As with all animal issues, be an advocate. Let your friends and neighbors know that if we don’t take action now, fireflies may become just a memory of summers gone. You can set an example for your neighbors when you create a backyard sanctuary for wildlife. If only one of them follows your lead, you will have helped not just the fireflies, but also the other creatures that live around us.
Centuries ago, the African elephant enjoyed ample representation among the teeming herds of wildlife that roamed the African continent. Today, their survival dangles on the precipice of extinction due to unchecked human population growth and overdevelopment. Once numbering in the millions, the continent-wide population in Africa is now estimated to be just under 600,000 elephants.
Elephants exist in one of the most complex societal units of any land mammal. A typical elephant herd consists of a matriarch, who is the leader and usually the oldest female in the group, her siblings and their offspring. The matriarch is the source of all information for the herd.
Throughout her years, she has learned where the best watering holes are, and which areas to avoid because of human presence. If the matriarch is killed by a hunter or poacher, her family suffers immensely and lacks the leader on whom they depend.
Baby elephants are born after an average of 22 months of gestation. They will normally stand within their first hour of life, and they nurse immediately from their mothers. The vital nutrients which can only be found in her milk help the development of the calf's immune system. Mothers and calves are rarely separated, and spend most of their time touching or in close physical contact. The other females in the herd often help raise the young elephant and can often be seen closing in around him to form an "elephant shield" if danger is present. The cousins, aunts, and sisters become the calf's guardians and form a family unit with impenetrable loyalty and devotion. Elephants have only one predator: humans.
Classified as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Animals, the most significant reason for their decline can be traced back to the 1800s when the precursor to the modern ivory trade began to take root. Nearly 200 years and millions of carcasses later, the future of the African elephant is in serious question.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) is an international treaty that governs trade in wildlife. The signatory nations agree to abide by its regulations in order to conserve plants and animals found in their respective countries. As the global demand for ivory increased in the latter part of the twentieth century, the wild herds of African elephants were being decimated at an amazing rate. The rampant poaching of the late 1970s and mid-1980s reduced the population in Africa by half.
In 1989, the parties to CITES voted to ban the once-legal trade in ivory, realizing that unless it was brought to a halt, the African elephant would disappear. After the ban was in place, the price of ivory dropped so rapidly that demand fell and poaching decreased considerably.
Unfortunately, the thin cloak of protection afforded to the elephants would soon wear out completely. In 1997, under threats and pressure from Japan, which wanted to reignite ivory sales, the parties to CITES voted to allow Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to sell their ivory stockpiles (warehoused ivory taken from elephants who were hunted or died naturally) to Japan. An additional provision allowed the export of live elephants from these countries. New life was breathed into the illegal poaching cartel, and bodies of elephants with their faces hacked away once again appeared on the African savannah. Shortly after the 1997 CITES meeting, Ghana, which had not lost any elephants to poachers since 1988, experienced elephant poaching in Mole National Park. Poaching also increased in the national parks of Zimbabwe and Namibia, two of the proponents of renewed ivory trade.
The first African elephant to be taken from the wild to be used for human entertainment was named Jumbo. He made the journey from Africa to the London Zoo in 1865, and was later sold to P.T. Barnum, the infamous circus magnate. More than a hundred years later, elephants are still being used and abused in circuses all over the world.
Elephants in captivity lead miserable lives. In stark contrast to their natural tendency to roam several miles each day, they are bound in shackles and chains and forced to perform tasks that are the antithesis of their innate instincts.
For a short time, it was illegal to capture a wild elephant for use in a circus or zoo, but the CITES decision in 1997 changed all of that. In August 1998, 30 baby elephants were captured in southern Botswana and sold by the Botswanan government to Riccardo Ghiazza, a South African animal dealer. Although Ghiazza was accused of abusing the elephants and was charged with animal cruelty by the National SPCA, he exported three of the elephant calves to the Basel Zoo in Switzerland, and four calves to the Dresden Zoo in Germany. This sale was the first of its kind in recent history and illustrated the trend that would grow from the destructive weakening of protection for African elephants.
Elephant hunting is alive and well in several African countries. The most notable program exists in Zimbabwe. The CAMPFIRE program (Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources) is designed to give local villagers "benefits" from living with wildlife. These benefits come at the cost of animals' lives. An estimated 90 percent of CAMPFIRE revenues are gleaned from elephant trophy hunting fees, which are paid by wealthy westerners who want to bag the most notorious of the "Big Five" animals.
CAMPFIRE is funded largely by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which receives tax dollars from U.S. citizens through congressional appropriations. A portion of USAID's support is funneled through the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to administer this trophy hunting program. CAMPFIRE has come under continuous fire for corruption and misappropriation of funds. Other countries which encourage and promote trophy hunting of any animal, endangered or otherwise, include Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, and Tanzania. Kenya and Uganda prohibit hunting of any kind within their borders.
HURTING NOT HELPING
Some conservation organizations who claim to be saving the African elephant, are actually lining up to participate in their demise. WWF, for example, directly benefits from the existence of CAMPFIRE and receives federal dollars for their involvement. The African Wildlife Foundation believes that "CAMPFIRE is essential to meeting our conservation goals," and the National Wildlife Federation believes that "CAMPFIRE is consistent with NWF's common-sense approach to human development and wildlife conservation." With the weight of lofty annual budgets and international recognition, these organizations continue to damage efforts to save what is left of the magnificent African elephants.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you are going to visit Africa, do not patronize countries such as Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, which have demonstrated their tenacity for exterminating elephants on their soil. Instead, choose to spend your tourist dollars in elephant-friendly countries such as Kenya and Uganda.
Write to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators and tell them that you do not want your tax dollars spent on the trophy hunting of elephants. Ask them to stop funding the CAMPFIRE program. Write to The Honorable __________, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; The Honorable __________, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Write to the conservation organizations that you want to support and ask them about their policies regarding elephants. Do they support trophy hunting? Do they support the ivory trade? What is their position on exporting live elephants to zoos and circuses? Spend your well-intentioned donation wisely.
Outer beauty is a reflection of our health. When healthy and well-nourished our skin glows, our hair is silky and our eyes are bright. Ironically, most “beauty” products are anything but healthy. Often laced with dozens of chemicals, conventional bath and beauty products are destructive to the planet's health as well as our own. Fortunately, simple and effective alternatives are waiting to be discovered in your kitchen cupboards. In fact, just three ingredients from your kitchen can make most of the products you use in your bathroom – oil, baking soda and vinegar. They are truly so healthy you can eat them. If you can't eat your bath and beauty products, you shouldn't be using them on your body.
Natural Alternatives For Shampoo
Baking soda is very effective at cleaning hair. Simply dissolve the baking soda in some water and apply it to your hair, then rinse thoroughly. For dry hair, apply a bit of oil such as olive or coconut oil. For frizzy hair, use less baking soda or rinse it sooner. For greasy hair, add a little lemon or lime juice. For itchy scalp, add essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary.
Natural Alternatives For Hair Conditioner
Coconut oil offers exceptional hydration and can be used before or after shampooing. For thin, lightweight, or oily hair, apply before showering. For curly, thick, or dry hair, apply after showering. Apple cider vinegar is also one of the best alternatives to commercial conditioner. It smoothes your cuticles, leaving your hair softer and easier to detangle. Simply mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. Apple cider vinegar has low pH, so it can dry some hair types – mix a little oil with it.
Natural Alternatives For Body Wash And Soap
Baking soda is an amazing body cleanser. Just mix a little baking soda with water. To moisturize your skin, add a little coconut oil. For some added fragrance, add some essential oil. Peppermint oil can stimulate and lift your mood, camomile or lavender oils promote relaxation, and ylang ylang and geranium oils help your overall feeling of well-being. 1 cup of Castile liquid soap (vegetable oils) mixed with 6 drops of essential oil also makes a great body wash.
Natural Alternatives For Bath Salts
Mix 3 cups of Epsom salt, 2 cups of sea salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Add essential oils for scent. Jasmine, lavender, and cedar create a calming bath. Citrus scents like orange, grapefruit, lemon and tangerine are used for clarity and joy.
Natural Alternatives For Bath Milk
Mix 1 1/2 cups powdered soy milk and 1/2 cup Epsom salts together. Add a few drops of essential oil if desired.
Natural Alternatives For Bubble Bath
Mix 1 cup of liquid castile soap, 2/3 cup of liquid vegetable glycerin, 1/4 cup of water, and a few drops of essential oil together. Add to bath.
Natural Alternatives For Body Scrub
Mix 2 cups of brown sugar with 1 cup of coconut or olive oil. Add essential oil for fragrance if you like. For a softer alternative, substitute all or part of the sugar for oats.
Natural Alternatives For Hair Gel
Coconut oil makes an excellent, all natural alternative to hair gel...and it conditions your hair. Note: a little goes a long way.
Natural Alternatives For Deodorant And Antiperspirant
Conventional antiperspirant and deodorant put aluminum in your body and prevent perspiration – the body’s natural way of eliminating toxins. Baking soda is an incredibly effective natural deodorant. Mixing it with equal parts coconut oil is even better. Coconut oil is antibacterial and anti fungal, so it prevents odors very well.
Natural Alternatives For Lotion
Skin is the largest organ in the body, and chemicals from conventional lotions are absorbed through the skin and stored in fat. A much safer lotion alternative is pure organic coconut oil. Coconut oil helps dry skin, wrinkles, and additional skin issues. It is naturally antibacterial, so it does not create breakouts. Coconut oil can be combined with other oils, herbs and essential oils to create a variety of solutions for different skin types.
Natural Alternatives For Toothpaste
Virtually all conventional toothpastes contain dangerous fluoride – a toxic byproduct of the aluminum industry. Fluoride has been linked to numerous diseases, including cancer and thyroid disease. Steer clear of fluoride toothpaste. Instead, brush your teeth with baking soda. You can add peppermint or other essential oils for better taste and fresher breath.
Natural Alternatives For Lip Balm
Use coconut oil in place of lip balm. It works well, and it's quite tasty.
Natural Alternatives For Facial Toner
Apple cider vinegar diluted with water makes a fantastic facial toner. Use a teaspoon of vinegar per half cup of water. Don't worry, the vinegar scent fades as soon as it dries. A few drops of essential oil will improve the scent. Apple cider vinegar brightens, tightens and freshens skin. It solves dry skin and breakout problems.
Natural Alternatives For Facial Cleanser
Make a face wash by adding a little baking soda to coconut oil.
Natural Alternatives For Mascara Remover
Olive oil or coconut oil work well at removing mascara and eye makeup, including waterproof makeup. Use one or the other, or combine the two. These oils also moisturize the eyes and help remove or prevent wrinkles.
Natural Alternatives For Hair Spray
Juice a lemon and mix with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Keep the mixture stored in the refrigerator. A cup of boiling water mixed with 1 to 4 teaspoons of sugar also creates an effective hair spray. Pour the mixture into a mister bottle. Apply as many times as needed, allowing it to dry in between applications. For a natural beach waves look, substitute sugar for salt.
Natural Alternatives For Teeth Whiteners
A healthy diet is most effective in keeping teeth white, and pure baking soda applied with a toothbrush is also effective. You can also rub fresh strawberries on your gums or mix mashed strawberries with baking soda and keep in your mouth tray for about 30 minutes one time a week.
Natural Alternatives For Cuticle Care
Scrub dry, cracked cuticles with a paste made from equal parts baking soda and warm water. It exfoliates dead skin cells and soften hands.
Natural Alternatives For Acne Solution
Mix baking soda with a little bit of water. Apply to the acne until dry.
Natural Alternatives For Foot Soak
Eliminate foot odor and fungus by soaking your feet in a solution of warm water and half a cup of baking soda. Add essential oil if you like.
Natural Alternatives For Aftershave
Apply a little coconut oil after shaving to soothe your skin.
Dolphins are often regarded as one of earth's most intelligent animals. They are social, living in pods of up to a dozen individuals. In places with a high abundance of food, pods can merge temporarily, forming a superpod; such groupings may exceed 1,000 dolphins. Individuals communicate using a variety of clicks, whistles and other vocalizations. They make ultrasonic sounds for echolocation. Membership in pods is not rigid; interchange is common. However, dolphins can establish strong social bonds; they will stay with injured or ill individuals, even helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed.
Dolphins also display culture, something long believed to be unique to humans. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are known to teach their young to use tools. They cover their snouts with sponges to protect them while foraging. This knowledge is mostly transferred by mothers to daughters. Using sponges as mouth protection is a learned behavior. Another learned behavior was discovered among river dolphins in Brazil, where some male dolphins use weeds and sticks as part of a sexual display.
Play is an important part of dolphin culture. Dolphins play with seaweed and play-fight with other dolphins. They play and harass other local creatures, like seabirds and turtles. Dolphins enjoy riding waves and frequently surf coastal swells and the bow waves of boats, at times “leaping” between the dual bow waves of a moving catamaran. Occasionally, they playfully interact with swimmers.
DOLPHINS AT RISK
Some dolphin species face an uncertain future, especially the Amazon river dolphin and the Ganges river dolphin, which are critically or seriously endangered. A 2006 survey found no individuals of the Yangtze river dolphin, which now appears to be functionally extinct.
Pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other industrial and agricultural pollutants that do not disintegrate rapidly in the environment concentrate in predators such as dolphins. Injuries or deaths due to collisions with boats, especially their propellers, are also common.
Various fishing methods, most notably purse seine fishing for tuna and the use of drift and gill nets, kill many dolphins. By-catch in gill nets and incidental captures in antipredator nets that protect marine fish farms are common and pose a risk for mainly local dolphin populations. In some parts of the world, such as Taiji in Japan and the Faroe Islands, dolphins are killed in harpoon or drive hunts. Dolphin meat is high in mercury, and may thus pose a health danger to humans when consumed.
Dolphin safe labels attempt to reassure consumers fish and other marine products have been caught in a dolphin-friendly way. The original deal with "Dolphin safe" labels was brokered in the 1980s between marine activists and the major tuna companies, and involved decreasing incidental dolphin kills by up to 50% by changing the type of nets being used to catch the tuna. Dolphins continue to be netted while fishermen are in pursuit of smaller tuna. Albacore are not netted this way, which makes albacore the only truly dolphin-safe tuna.
Loud underwater noises, such as those resulting from naval sonar use, live firing exercises, or certain offshore construction projects, such as wind farms, may be harmful to dolphins, increasing stress, damaging hearing, and causing decompression sickness by forcing them to surface too quickly to escape the noise.
A number of militaries have employed dolphins for various purposes, from finding mines to rescuing lost or trapped humans. The military use of dolphins drew scrutiny during the Vietnam War when rumors circulated that the United States Navy was training dolphins to kill Vietnamese divers. Dolphins are still being trained by the United States Navy on other tasks as part of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. The Russian military is believed to have closed its marine mammal program in the early 1990s. In 2000 the press reported that dolphins trained to kill by the Soviet Navy had been sold to Iran.
DOLPHIN DRIVE HUNTING
Dolphin drive hunting, also called dolphin drive fishing, is a method of hunting dolphins and occasionally other small cetaceans by driving them together with boats and then usually into a bay or onto a beach. Their escape is prevented by closing off the route to the open sea or ocean with boats and nets. Dolphins are hunted this way in several places around the world, including the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, Peru and Japan, the most well-known practitioner of this method. Dolphins are mostly hunted for their meat; some are captured and end up in dolphinariums.
Despite the highly controversial nature of the hunt resulting in international criticism, and the possible health risk that the often polluted meat causes, many thousands of dolphins are caught in drive hunts each year.
In Japan, striped, spotted, Risso's, and bottlenose dolphins are most commonly hunted, but several other species such as the false killer whale are also occasionally caught. A small number of orcas have been caught in the past. Relatively few striped dolphins are found in the coastal waters, probably due to hunting.
The Japanese town of Taiji on the Kii peninsula is, as of now, the only town in Japan where drive hunting still takes place on a large scale. In the town of Futo the last known hunt took place in 2004. In 2007 Taiji wanted to step up its dolphin hunting programs, approving an estimated ¥330 million for the construction of a massive cetacean slaughterhouse in an effort to popularize the consumption of dolphins in the country.
Dolphin welfare advocacy groups such as Earth Island Institute, Surfers for Cetaceans and Dolphin Project Inc., assert that the number of dolphins and porpoises killed is estimated at 25,000 per year.
In Japan, the hunting is done by a select group of fishermen. When a pod of dolphins has been spotted, they're driven into a bay by the fishermen while banging on metal rods in the water to scare and confuse the dolphins. When the dolphins are in the bay, it is quickly closed off with nets so the dolphins cannot escape. The dolphins are usually not caught and killed immediately, but instead left to calm down over night. The following day, the dolphins are caught one by one and killed. The killing of the animals used to be done by slitting their throats, but the Japanese government banned this method and now dolphins may officially only be killed by driving a metal pin into the neck of the dolphin. It is not clear if this ban is strictly enforced however.
Some of the captured dolphins are left alive and taken to dolphinariums. Dolphins have also been exported to the United States for several parks including the well known SeaWorld parks. The US National Marine Fisheries Service has refused a permit for Marine World Africa USA on one occasion to import four false killer whales caught in a Japanese drive hunt. In recent years, dolphins from the Japanese drive hunts have been exported to China, Taiwan and to Egypt. On multiple occasions, members of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) have also been observed at the drive hunts in Japan.
Protest and campaigns are now common in Taiji. Some of the animal welfare organizations campaigning against the drive hunts are Sea Shepherd, One Voice, Blue Voice, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Since much of the criticism is the result of photos and videos taken during the hunt and slaughter, it is now common for the final capture and slaughter to take place on site inside a tent or under a plastic cover, out of sight from the public.
On a smaller scale, drive hunting for dolphins also takes place on the Solomon Islands, more specifically on the island of Malaita. Dolphin's teeth are also used in jewelry and as currency on the island. The dolphins are hunted in a similar fashion as in Japan, using stones instead of metal rods to produce sounds to scare and confuse the dolphins. Various species are hunted, such as spotted and spinner dolphins. The amount of dolphins killed each year is not known, but anecdotal information suggests between 600 and 1,500 dolphins per hunting season. The hunting season lasts roughly from December to April, when the dolphins are closest to shore. As in Japan, some dolphins (exclusively bottlenoses) from the Solomon Islands have also been sold to the entertainment industry. There was much controversy in July 2003, when 28 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops trancatus aduncus) were exported to Parque Nizuc, a water park in Cancun. A large portion of the animals were later transported to Cozumel, to do interaction programs. Though the export of dolphins had been banned in 2005, the export of dolphins was resumed in October 2007 when the ban was lifted following a court decision, allowing for 28 dolphins to be sent to a dolphinarium in Dubai. A further three dolphins were found dead near the holding pens. The dealer that exported these dolphins has stated that they intend to release their 17 remaining dolphins back into the wild in the future.
On the Faroe Islands mainly Pilot Whales are killed by drive hunts for their meat. Other species are also killed on rare occasion such as the Northern bottlenose whale and Atlantic white-sided dolphin. The hunt is known by the locals as the Grindadráp. There are no fixed hunting seasons, as soon as a pod close enough to land is spotted fishermen set out to begin the hunt. The animals are driven onto the beach with boats, blocking off the way to the ocean. When on the beach, most of them get stuck. Those that have remained too far in the water are dragged onto the beach by putting a hook in their blowhole. When on land, they are killed by cutting down to the major arteries and spinal cord at the neck. The time it takes for a dolphin to die varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the cut. When the fishermen fail to beach the animals all together, they are let free again. About a thousand pilot whales are killed this way each year on the Faroe Islands together with usually a few dozen, up to a few hundred, animals belonging to other small cetaceans species...but numbers vary greatly per year. The brutal appearance of the hunt has resulted in international criticism especially from animal welfare organizations. As in Japan, the meat is contaminated with mercury and cadmium, causing a health risk for those frequently eating it.
Though it is forbidden under Peruvian law to hunt dolphins or eat their meat, a large number of dolphins are still killed illegally by fishermen each year. Although exact numbers are not known, the Peruvian organization Mundo Azul (Blue World) estimates that at least a thousand are killed annually. To catch the dolphins, they are driven together with boats and encircled with nets, then harpooned, dragged on to the boat, and clubbed to death if still alive. Various species are hunted, such as the bottlenose and dusky dolphin.
On the Penghu Islands in Taiwan, drive fishing of bottlenose dolphins was practiced until 1990, when the practice was outlawed by the government. Mainly Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins, but also common bottlenose dolphins, were captured in these hunts.