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Category Archives: Africa

Global Tentacles

634px-Giraffe_cave_art

Giraffe Cave Art at the NamibRand Nature Reserve
Picture credit: Namibnat

 

At first glance this morning, this news appeared to be a positive move, made by someone who had their heart and their power, in the right place, and was a cause for tremendous joy.
But then after reading further and seeking secondary and other stories for reference, it seems that all is not as it appears.
Paul Allen, the Billionaire philanthropist, who is seemingly strongly supportive of protecting Endangered Wildlife, has several not so nice personal blemishes, that must also be considered before we proceed to give him his Best Global Humanitarian Award.
Mr. Allen has introduced a measure to get on the Fall Ballots in Washington State, that will put a hurting on those who use the World’s  most at risk wildlife to make a dirty income.
The measure, called Inititive 1401, has already reached, thanks to all of his volunteers in the field, the necessary number to get on to the Ballot in November.

This is a great thing.

What I am having trouble with, is the dark side of his company Vulcan and his sister Jody, who was the CEO, and has just stepped down after some very ugly issues about wildlife  poaching and sexual harassment were brought to light by accusers who work for Allen’s company.
I will not go fully into these things, as they are well presented in the links below.
What I am interested in pointing out here is this.
When very rich, very powerful people make the news and receive gushing accolades without the public or the press, doing more than just a little background digging into the facts, bad things can happen.
In this case, Allen, who has passionately promoted this initiative in Washington, to save and protect wildlife, seems awesome, but something here is not right, and  it all smells just a little rank, when you learn that he has regularly taken African Safaris and owns Tourist Lodges in Botswana.

Now add to this, the fact that his Company Vulcan,  formerly run by his sister, has been taken to court and accused of smuggling, poaching and more.
All too often, people like Allen and his sister, are unlike you and me, frequently kept safely in a cocoon, so that the scandals, or dirt runs off of them and does not stain their pristine, public images.
My concern and primary reason for writing about this today is, that it would be so much easier to believe Allen and all the others who claim to be truly concerned about the welfare of Endangered Wildlife, if there was not so damn much money involved in all of this.

If, as you do so passionately profess Mr. Allen, you truly do wish to protect Endangered African Wildlife, may I suggest that you dispose of your African Tourist Lodges and suspend your Safari trips?

It would be wonderful to see those with so much wealth, using it to personally educate and enlighten the rest of the world to what is happening to the precious few wild animals that we have left, before they are all gone.

We absolutely must take this message out to the schools, to the young, who will become our next generation of protectors.

Sadly, access to excessive money can turn even the best people’s heads the wrong way and there is just too much at stake here.

The treacherous arms of Global Smugglers and Wildlife Traffickers can have very long tentacles, some are even said to be attached to Global Mobsters, that just may reach into even safe corners, including those of the well protected, well insulated, excessively wealthy.

 

Places to learn more:

Washington Rare Species Trafficking Measure, Initiative 1401 (2015)

Global Efforts to Stop Illicit Wildlife Trade: Are They Enough?

China Promises an End to Its Ivory Trade, While Some U.S. Politicians Pander to Wildlife Traffickers

Paul Allen: Seeking unbroken tall bones?

Paul Allen’s sister steps away from managing $17 bln fortune

Seahawks owner Paul Allen, sister settle as bodyguards claim smuggling, bribery

War threatens existence of wildlife species in South Sudan

Washington State Initiative Aims to Protect Iconic Animals Threatened With Extinction

Paul Allen bankrolls initiative to ban rare-species trafficking

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The NBA Cares, and that’s No Hype!

elephant1 Basketball rhino

Picture credits:  Elephant: Ian Sewell,   Basketball: Reisio,   Rhino: Ikiwaner

“It would have been great to have shown you any of the player’s pictures,  or the NBA Care’s Logo, or anything related to this story here, however, the NBA strictly forbids it!”

 

The American culture of sports figures and their ability to influence in this country is legendary, but when it becomes a mantra for saving the lives of animals being slaughtered,  it reaches a new level of altruism altogether.

The hysteria for college basketball raging through America right now is at its peak, with March Madness and all that that implies!

So, what better time for a story about some of the stars of the sport and their efforts to put a bright spotlight on a criminal, barbaric act against animals.

These six NBA stars:  “Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers, Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks, Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls ”   have joined forces with  ” NBA Cares “  and  ” Wild Aid “   and are trying to put an end to the Global  gluttonous appetite for Ivory,  with their new PSA called NO Hype.

Throughout Africa, this heinous, horrendous, murdering business has left the country littered with the rotting elephant and rhino corpses left behind in the poacher’s plunderous hunts for animal body parts, namely Ivory.

This Public Service project may or may not work, but it does clearly succeed at one thing, a whole new group of people everywhere, will now be much more aware of the problem than before.

And it is a proven fact that when the public is alerted to,  or has repeated exposure to a crime and those who perpetuate them, they can help to bring them to justice and end the criminal acts.

These men, these groups,  are collectively doing what few others could right now, they are using their public persona and star power to promote the idea that these heinous acts and those who do them can and must be stopped, before the animals affected by illegal poaching are wiped off of the earth,  forever.

These six men,  NBA Cares and Wild Aid,   are all about giving back and that’s  NO HYPE!

 

A few places to learn more:

NBA Athletes Launch Campaign Against Ivory and Rhino Horn Poaching

Pau Gasol part of NBA Cares Campaign against Ivory and Rhino horn poaching

NBA Cares

‘No Hype’ NBA Cares, Nick Brandt and WildAid 30s

Pau Gasol and Wild Aid Media

NBA Athletes Speak Out to Save Africa’s Endangered Wildlife

 

 

 

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Keloids, Colors and Rainbows~

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We do all live in a Rainbow World~
Picture credit:  Ray Kurosumi

*** An update***
I owe a huge apology to the students at Harvard for comments written here yesterday.

My mistake was in only reading a caption and then writing this story,
I had not gone to the web site and seen the actual  pictures.
What I found there were the remarks by some students who feel, as I often have,
that they are only being judged by the color of their skin. Yes some of them are brutally honest,
but if that is what it takes to get people to stop and think about ONLY seeing color, so be it.
I stand most definitely corrected!

 

I read an interesting post this morning and felt compelled to comment on it.

It was about some students at Harvard and some not so kind remarks about the color of one’s skin.

I took umbrage to this and my reply was quick and may I add,  just a bit curt.

If you have seen the movie Invictus, you heard the word Rainbow used many times,  it struck a note deep in my heart.

Martin Luther King, Jr. used the word frequently as well, it brought him many followers who believed that his thinking was good for the country.

Anyway, back to the Harvard comments.

Do you, do any of us,  really know every single person that inhabits our DNA?

Do you know who all of your Ancestors are?

Not likely.

I spent my entire life  looking for my father, whom I never met and only saw his face for the first time on this past Christmas Eve. It seems that he was either Scottish or Norwegian.

So now that part of my life is known, but what about the hundreds of others before him?

Let me digress.

When I was in Nursing School many years ago, we spent a week on Dermatology, it was a week that would change my life.

One day, the Instructor decided to comment about a certain skin type of scar, she called it a Keloid.

I had never heard the word before, but was stricken by the sound of it.

She gazed around the room and then frowned, “ Well she said, I cannot show you what a Keloid looks like because we have no African-American students here today.”

Then she put a graphic on the screen of one up close.

Aha~

I raised my hand and said,  “ Excuse me, but is this one? “

I showed her the scar on my arm from an injury a few years earlier.

She looked at me in total disbelief, ” You can’t  have one, you are not Black.”

Quite the contrary, I was a very pale, blue-eyed, blonde.

May I say that in that moment,  you could have heard a pin drop in the Classroom!

I did not have a computer at that time, so had no way of confirming or dismissing her comment and as our precious little free time was severely limited, I never did check up on it until many years later.

This was the first of the new colors to come into my personal Rainbow.

Did I mention that as a child growing up, my grandmother seemed obsessed with constantly telling me that we were PURE Irish?

Now fast forward to the year 1999,  when I left California and became the now 15 year partner of Walkingfox.

We spent years traveling around the country meeting Native people on many Reservations.

It was a life changing experience and the beginning of a new course for me.

He was convinced that I had Native Ancestors, but I refused to believe it, due to the color of my skin.

Then,  late one night,  I called my Aunt and finally asked her if we had any Natives in our family, her reply like that of the instructors rocked my world,  she said , ” Yes we have Shawnee Ancestors, I thought you knew. ”

Well I did not know and later I found out that this Aunt was the ONLY one in our family that my grandmother had shared this information with.

Then  a few weeks later on one of our trips, we were in Ohio and met some wonderful Shawnee people.

One of them came up to and said, ” You are Shawnee.”

I admitted that this had only been recently learned.

She stared at my back,  as I was wearing a strapless sun outfit, and said,  ” The mark on your back is very important to our people.”

I had no idea what she meant,  but assumed she was referring to the quarter sized mole on my left shoulder.

Her next words would take my breath way, ” That is the mark of a Medicine person to us.”

My grandmother was a Nurse, I had been a Nurse, it seemed plausible.

I had spent so many years caring for others, how could I know this may have been predestined?

So, back to the present about why the unkind comment made by an unthinking student at Harvard about the color of skin, hit so hard.

Unless one has had a Genetic test of their DNA, one cannot fully know just who their Ancestors were, can they?

When you look at me, what do you see?

Do you see an African-American person, a Native American person, probably not.

All that you see is my very white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes.

But, that is not the entire picture and now you know.

I am Prussian, Irish, Native American, English, Scottish/Norwegian and African-American.

So to all of you in the world who ONLY see color when you look at people,  shame on you, you have access to excellent reference and education sources everywhere on the planet and this is your level of thinking?

Please, in the future, may we all try to see the Rainbow that exists in each of us~

 

 

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The Leakey Legacy

MaryLeakey

The Leakey’s on a dig: Mary, Richard, Louis and  ” the Boys ”
Picture credit: Unknown,  although M.D. Leakey would be Mary

 

There were several new discoveries in the news today that had me salivating as I read them.

Well actually, more like lusting, as my College studies were in Anthropology/Ethnography, not Archaeology, but none the less, this is pretty mouth-watering breaking news for all Anthropologists and those interested in the Ancient Origins and History of Humans.

The links to the stories are below, in the meantime, here is a tiny personal tidbit.

Although Ethnography was my chosen sector of Anthropology to study, my interest had always been in the findings of the entire Leakey family and the great Rift Valley of East Africa, including Olduvai Gorge, or as one of my favorite Professors  always referred to it,   ” the elevator down into our past. “

While Louis, the son of Kenyan Missionaries among the Kikuyu people, was the one always in the spotlight, his wife Mary and son Richard were both quite well-respected and had earned the right to also be admired for their work.

Mary was most celebrated of course, for her discoveries of the Laetoli footprints  in Tanzania in 1978 and Richard had his own numerous notable finds.

In the Literary world, between the two of them, they penned quite a few excellent books, of course I have read them all and they now sit on a book-case next to me when I write.

A one of a kind photo taken of Louis while he was on a dig in Calico, California, many years ago,  looks down at me as I eat everyday, it  was a kindly, generous gift from the woman who led the site tour and asked me to follow her to her office afterwards. I had been more than a little chatty during the tour,  sharing my knowledge of the Leakey’s and I was sure she was going to chastise me for doing this. Not so, as it turned out, surprisingly, she took an envelope out of her drawer, smiling as she handed it to me saying,  ”  I cannot think of anyone who would treasure this more than you ” and gave me the soon to be life long treasure. On this point,  she was absolutely correct.

While my studies in Ethnography kept me quite busy all through my College studies,  Archaeology,  especially Paleontology,  the Leakey’s  and  Olduvai Gorge were always right there in the back of my mind. I spent countless hours and dollars finding books about any and all of it.

I was never really sure what  the most interesting thing about them was, their astonishing finds, their brilliant children, or their wonderful Dalmatians, ” the boys ” as Mary called them, who accompanied the family on many of their digs.

If I had to choose my favorite of all of my Anthropology classes,  it was most certainly Human Paleontology. I will never forget the terrifying Final Exam, which was a room filled with shelves and the nearly 100 skulls waiting to be identified sitting on them.

Shockingly,  I did pretty well on this Final Exam, (which was a Master’s level class not required for my Degree.)

Was it due perhaps,  to my obsessive reading and studying anything and everything about the Leakey’s? Probably~

Anyway,  now back to today’s exciting, well at least to some of us,  Ancient discoveries.

 

The stories are below, if this subject sounds of interest to you, do take a look:

The Epic Journey of our Species

Treasure trove of ‘absolutely wonderful,’ never-before-seen fossils uncovered in B.C.

 

 

 

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