The Wider Picture

Kindness & Compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilised society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people.

quote by Cesar Chavez (1927 – 1993)

There is so much devastating and heart wrenching news stories currently. The world feels a very difficult place and, at times it feels that humanity is intent on destroying itself. We don’t seem to be able to understand the impact our actions are having on our planet.  We can’t see the wider picture.

Take the story about the lonely baboon who has spent the last 3 years marooned on an island in the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. In an unusually dry spell, this intrepid baboon seems to have gone to explore the island but couldn’t get back again when the water rose, and in a river infested with crocodiles, he couldn’t swim back.

His plight has attracted a lot of attention and a multitude of well-wishers and people trying to help this poor baboon get back to his family on the mainland.

It is heartening to see so many concerned individuals trying to help in this situation and my own heart is heavy to know that this baboon who has been given the name of Robinson Crusoe, is living such a sad and isolated existence. I hope that all the good people trying to help him will find a way to bring him home.

However, I also hope that Humanity can recognise the devastating impact it has on whole species as well as concentrating on individual cases. We buy wood products made from illegal logging and numerous products containing palm oil, both resulting in huge swathes of the Amazon being destroyed. (latest figures estimate that 3 football pitches a minute are being cut down). However, despite the widespread knowledge that we have about the devastation we are creating in continuing to demand these products, we still buy them, seldom stopping to think of the attendant deforestation and loss of habitat for hundreds of species.

The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

quote by Chief  Seattle (1780 – 1866)

It was good to read this week that the tour operator Responsible Travel no longer promote trips on their site that include elephant treks and performances in Asia. Elephant trekking is top of the travel bucket list for many tourists. The chance to ride on the back of one of these majestic beauties exploring villages and forests is a real draw for visitors and very profitable for travel companies. Trips to elephant camps to watch elephants play football, paint pictures or perform in an orchestra have proved equally popular.

In order to provide this “entertainment”  Asian Elephants are gunned down so that their baby elephants can be captured and sold into tourist camps. It is there that they endure the most horrific cruelty, being “broken in” using brutal inhumane techniques; tied up in a cage for several days, deprived of food, water and sleep, beaten, burned and stabbed to beat them into submission.  To read those horrific reports is heartbreaking and even writing about this now, I can see the pictures in my mind and heartbroken doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.

A newly broken in baby can be worth £18,000 or more and sadly, there are no laws or regulations regarding the welfare of captive elephants across Asia. They may be tied up in chains, left without shade and segregated from other elephants, which for a highly intelligent social species is unbearable.

Those used for elephant back rides can suffer damage to their spines, sores on their skin from the equipment and wounds from the bull hooks used by their handlers. Elephant riding is very different to horse riding because the animals have not become domesticated through years of captive breeding. For elephants, all their wild instincts remain, even if they are born in captivity.

Thank goodness that Responsible Travel is leading the way for other tour companies to consider their policies on promoting Elephant rides and performances.  They saw the wider picture and realise that by stopping the demand for the terrible cases of injustice towards these beautiful elephants, fewer of them will to live these lives of abject misery just to satisfy human desire.

We can play our part by encouraging anyone we know who is considering a trip to Asia, to do their research very carefully before choosing an elephant establishment to visit and to not go elephant trekking or attend an elephant show.

In South Africa, the charity Network for Animals is currently pushing for torturers of elephants to be brought to justice. These baby elephants were snatched from their mothers and transported to a remote farm where they were tortured as part of their training to become circus elephants.

Please support them on this link and help them to help the people of South Africa see the Wider Picture.

In Africa, more elephants are now being killed each year than are born.  The situation is dire. One elephant is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes. If the current rate of slaughter continues, the species could be wiped out within in a century according to a new study.

“We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent” George Wittemyer from Colorado State University told BBC news online. His research suggests that between 2010 and 2013, Africa lost an average of 7% of its elephant population each year; by contrast, births boosted the population by 5%. However there are wide regional variations. In Botswana, for instance, populations are healthy and growing, but in other areas poachers are causing devastation. In Central Africa it is estimated that elephant numbers have fallen by about 60% in a decade. To make matters worse, it’s the mature elephants that are killed: The prime breeding males and mothers. As George Wittemyer says “ This leaves behind orphaned juveniles and broken elephant societies”.

Sadly, there is a long way to go before the Wider Picture will ever be seen by ignorant humans beings who continue to want for the ivory from the tusks of these Beautiful beings.

For more information and to sign a petition, please click on this link.

To finish up on some news of positive human action (which unfortunately is necessary because of very evil human action)

Hundreds of rhinos are being moved out of Kruger National Park in South Africa to protect them from a surge of poaching. The evacuated rhinos will be mainly dispersed to other parks in South Africa but some may have to be sent abroad, to Zambia or Botswana to keep them safe.

So far this year, 683 rhinos have been slaughtered by poachers in South Africa, two thirds of them in Kruger National Park which covers 7,500 square miles. Last year, the total figure was a record 1,004 up from 668 in 2012 and from 13 in 2007.

Rhinos are killed for their horn which is sold for their supposed medicinal qualities across Asia, most notably Vietnam.  It is hard to understand the belief that perpetuates this slaughter. As a result of soaring demand, rhino horn (which mainly consists of a material similar to the human finger nail) now sells for around £38 per gram in Vietnam, making it more valuable than gold.

You can find more information and hope at the Save the Rhino website.

After all that difficult reading, we need to cheer ourselves up with a nice cake.  Here is my recipie for yummy Carrot cake, adapted from various different vegan carrot cake recipies I have found over the years! Enjoy!

 Bleu’s carrot cake (Bleu is my daughter & this is her favourite cake!)

 Toss 2 cups grated carrot & 1 cup of walnut pieces in 1 Tbsp of Lemon juice.

Sieve & mix together 2 & a half cups of wholemeal plain flour, 2 xegg replacer powder,1 tsp baking soda, tsp baking powder, 1tsp of ground ginger & half tsp of cinnamon.  Plus half cup of brown sugar if using.(Adjust to tastes!….I love cinnamon & ginger so tend to put more in!)

 Prepare wet ingredients. ..half cup prune puree or other puree which had been well strained. Apple sauce will also work.

1 cup Vegan Pure, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in 1 cup almond milk, half cup Maple syrup or 1 cup if not using sugar. 

 Add dry ingredients to wet & mix in as quickly as possible.  Fold in the carrot& walnut mixture. 

 Bake in 9 inch greased & lined cake tin for approx 45 min at 170 degrees.

Cool for 10 mins before taking out the tin. When completely cool, cover with tofutti cream cheese icing made with 2 tubs of tofutti with 1 cup icing sugar or less according to taste & a squeeze of lemon juice. Whisk up & leave to set in fridge for an hour before covering cake!

Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test…..consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.

quote by Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984


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