Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food Inc. = a new vegetarian

Friend, not food!
Hi animal lovers!

So I recently decided it was time for me to watch the farm factory documentary Food Inc.  This was a big step for me because I knew exactly what would happen once I had.  As I was doing research for this blog I quickly began to realize I was filling the role of a "poser" animal activist.  I was still eating them.  Now, let me backtrack a little.  I have always loved animals.  A lot.  I have never been a huge meat eater, but was raised in the hopes that I would grow up to be one. My parents love red meat, and cook it about three times a week.  When I was younger I complained so much, until eventually I realized I wouldn't win the battle.  I sucuumed to roast beef, and roast pork, and back ribs and steak, from filet mignons to New York striploins! However, I began to realize I don't even enjoy it that much.  Now I'm not going to lie, I doooo love chicken...and the odd steak. But that was about to change.  Now this is a decision I had been thinking about for awhile.  So I went out and I rented Food Inc. by myself.  I sat there and watched it in horror... by myself.  I was absolutely disgusted!  I didn't end up watching the whole thing because it wasn't neccessary.  I realized the time had come to act on my values.  That was it...the last day I ate meat... it will be a month ago tomorrow, and needless to say I am very happy with my decision.  I haven't missed meat and I will save approximately 100 chickens a year.  I can live a more peaceful life knowing that innocent animals are not dying for my plate.
Check out the official website for Food Inc. here.  You can help by promoting healthy lunches for children by clicking here.

Voila!   My new fave vegetarian recipes to come...

Victoria xo.

Oh and watch the trailer....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sumatran Tiger and Bulldozer Caught on Camera

Hi animal lovers,

I’m a little gloomy today after doing my usual scan of animal activist websites.  I was on WWF and stumbled upon quite an alarming story.  In May-June 2010 videos of a bulldozer destroying a Sumatra tiger habitat in Bukit Batabuh, a protected forest in Riau Province Indonesia, were captured, and just two days ago were made public (you can watch that video above or here). WWF installed the video cameras in mid-2009 to study the Sumatran tiger population, their habitats and the threats they both face.  In the video a male Sumatran tiger walks up to the camera and sniffs it.  A week later, the camera catches a bulldozer clearing trees for an illegal palm oil plantation.  The next day, the camera records another tiger walking through the destroyed landscape.  Let me start from the beginning...

Riau Province, Indonesia
It's firstly important to note that Bukit Batabuh was classified as a protected area by Riau Province in 1994.  It is considered crucial for conservation because it’s a corrider between two national parks.  It was categorized as a limited protection forest, meaning it’s illegal for companies to exploit the forest.   But apparently it’s too early to say if the bulldozing activities were illegal because although protected from commercial development, with the right permits local officials can authorize road-building.  However, the WWF links this bulldozing destruction with the expansion of palm oil plantations in Riau ProvinceIndonesia is the top palm-oil producer. These land-clearing practices for palm oil plantations have been going on for some time, and they force the tiger to have close contact with humans.   Not only are these tigers dealing with their habitats being destroyed as an aspect of this heavy deforestation, but they are also subject to illegal poaching, which I touched on yesterday. In March 2010, WWF's Tiger Patrol Unit, in collaboration with Riau's Nature Conservation Agency found and confiscated more than 110 tiger snares. 

There are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in Indonesia, which is about 12% of the estimated global tiger population (3,200).  Basically this means that Indonesia has a prominent role in tiger conservation efforts. Sumatran tigers are sadly the most endangered sub-species.  In this particular case, the population is threatened by loss of habitat which in turn decreases prey populations.  Tigers need sufficient prey and protection in order to procreate.  They need to have minimal human-tiger conflict to ensure theirs, and our optimal safety. 

Sumatran tiger

I am happy to relay that the Indonesian government is working on making commitments to improve protection of Sumatra tigers.  In fact, in July 2010 a "pre" Tiger Summit was held in Bali at which they unveiled their ecosystem-based land-use plan.  They also have an upcoming Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity this month, and of course the Tiger Summit in Russia this November.  These plans depend on support from stakeholders, provincial and district levels, to support the need to stop overlapping land use planning, as it creates many problems for the tigers.

The Sumatra tigers need help from everyone.  Governments, businesses and communities need to help support protection for this landscape, which will directly help save tiger's lives.  Law enforcement is weak and must be improved.  Coordination between different levels of government is needed.  We once again need to raise awareness! Please help spread the word. 

I will leave you with a quote...

“Bukit Batabuh’s status as a protected area and limited production forest means the area cannot be developed as a palm oil plantation. Therefore, any forest clearance —including bulldozing activities to clear the path — strongly indicates this excavation was illegal.  The law should be enforced in this matter.” - Ian Kosasih, Director of WWF-Indonesia’s Forest and Species Program. “

 Victoria xo.

p.s  You can join any of WWF's social websites by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Save Tigers Now" Campaign Launches

Hi animal lovers,

WWF has launched a new partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio in the "Save Tigers Now"  campaign for the Chinese year of the tiger, 2010.  This campaign is an awesome one, and has been long awaited.  Did you know that as little as 3,200 tigers remain in the wild?  This means that the habitat of tigers has declined 97 per cent in the past 100 years. This is a catastrophic decline.  Illegal killing to make money on the black market is the main cause for the huge dip in wild tiger populations.  Poachers are killing tigers and selling their fur, bones and organs illegally.  If the population of these beautiful creatures continues to decline at such a rate, extinction is inevitable within the next few decades. 

Map of tiger populations

Tigers are considered an "umbrella species".  This means that if we protect their habitat, thousands of other species will benefit,  including humans.  Putting a stop to the killing could help to save other endangered species, give strength to local communities and improve law enforcement.  So basically, lots of benefits will come from saving tigers!

WWF has just launched a partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio (love him!) to shut down poachers and engage governments in making commitments to resources and protection of tigers. Their goal is to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 - the next year of the tiger.  WWF is focusing on countries where the tigers are still found.  There are actually 13 tiger range countries (TRCs), meaning countries where wild tigers are still found:  Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. Heads of government representing each of these countries will be attending a “Tiger Summit” in St. Petersburg, Russia, set for November 21-24. At the summit, the countries will be focusing their rescue methods on tiger conservation landscapes. DiCaprio has said that he will be traveling to India to support the cause of tigers.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Saving tigers is incredibly important.  Once they are gone, that’s it, they’re gone.  This is a really scary and devastating thought.  Once again, awareness needs to be raised.  If we aren't accessing the WWF website or other animal activist websites often, there is no way to know about these alarming statistics.  Let's spread the word guys!  Twitter and facebook are great ways to get the information out there.

Funds are also needed to help support the patrollers on the ground, strengthen projects and assemble political will so governments will commit to strategies to give tigers a future.  You can help this fight by accessing the WWF website here.


Here's a quote from Leo:
"Key conservation efforts can save the tiger species from extinction, protect some of the planet's last wild habitats and help sustain the communities surrounding them.  By protecting this iconic species, we can save so much more” –Leonardo DiCaprio

Victoria xo.

p.s check out this great blog about saving tigers, here.

Dolphin Massacre Ensues...

Hi animal lovers, 
The Cove, Taiji Japan

Every September 1st, near a cove in Taiji, Japan, a dolphin hunt ensues and lasts six months. During these six months, the town's "fishermen" catch about 20,000 dolphins.  Half are then sold to aquariums, half are killed and disguised as whale meat, even though dolphins are very high in mercury.  The fishermen are quick to point out that dolphins are not covered by the whaling suspension. Thanks for the information.

What is seen by most human beings as senseless, disgusting killing is seen as pest control by these fishermen, blaming the dolphins for devastating the Taiji fish supply.  They also claim that dolphin killing is a cultural tradition, but if this is true, why is it kept secret from the community and the rest of the world? The dolphin-killing cove is shielded by steep cliffs, dense undergrowth, and barriers. Land that used to be part of a conservation area is now gated, locked, covered with “NO TRESSPASSING” signs and surrounded by authorities.  Cultural tradition? It doesn’t seem so.

A typical dolphin hunt goes a little like this…

The Taiji fishermen in their boats, herding the dolphins
into the cove

Numerous fishermen set out in boats and pursue pods of dolphins across the open ocean.  They stick long metal poles into the water and bang them together to confuse the dolphin’s hyper-sensitive sense of sound.  The dolphins become distorted, frightened and exhausted.  They are driven into a large cove (not the cove) and sealed off with nets to prevent them from escaping.  After dolphin trainers from aquariums around the world pick through the ones that they want, the rest are tied up by their back fins (flukes), and dragged by boat around to the hidden cove (the "Killer Cove").  They are given a night to expend all their energy and in the morning are butchered by the fishermen with knives and spears.

The Cove, after one of the many
senseless killings

This is absolutely horrifying.  We must act now and stop this cruelty.  The fishermen of Taiji are getting away with this by the help of the Japanese government, which is making lots of profit.   The only way to stop this insanity is to raise awareness.  Until the people of Japan and the rest of the world know what’s going on, it will continue every September.  However, change does not happen overnight.  An activist named Ric O’Barry recently filmed a documentary in Taiji called ‘The Cove’.  It follows a team of activists as they pull a dangerous, undercover mission and enter the cove in Taiji.  They are trying to bring light to this dark and devastating situation.  It won an Academy Award for best documentary in 2009.  We need to join the fight with Ric O’Barry from the Save Dolphins Now campaign.  He has many ideas and ways to get involved and you find his website and blog here.  To join the petition site, click here.

Victoria xo.

p.s.  Watch this... it's the trailer for The Cove...