Life imitating fiction

whiskey-jack-blogIn my book, Dancing in the Rain, the character of Brenna entertains the tourists on Grouse Mountain by hand feeding the whisky jacks, a bird commonly found on the mountain. I liked the idea, but had never actually done it myself. Yesterday I spotted a group of them in in the trees while snowshoeing on Mount Seymour . I put out my hand to see what would happen. Immediately a  bird landed on it, looking for food. Because she was so friendly I shared my Cliff bar with her. Nothing makes me happier than being up close to wildlife.

A Catch 22 – Selling the rhino horn to save the rhino

rhino 2

Okay, who doesn’t want a cure for cancer and/or hangovers? I sympathize, but I won’t be looking to the horn of the rhino for relief anytime soon.

As we’ve heard in the news, rhino horns are a coveted commodity in Asia, thought to do everything from curing life-threatening disease to relieving simple ailments. As a result, the animals are being illegally poached and killed for their horns. Their numbers have dwindled alarmingly. The situation is dire.

Enter, stage left: South African, John Hume owns and operates the world’s largest captive breeding operation of rhinos.  He claims that his life ambition is to save the rhinos from extinction. His farm houses 4% of the global population. He, too, saws off the rhinos’ horns, (without killing the animal) in order to make them less attractive to the poachers (who do kill them). The thing is, the horn grows back and can be harvested every 18 months.

The twist: Hume sells the horns to the Asian market, arguing that the profit he makes goes directly back into sustaining his farm that protects the rhino.

Talk about a paradox. Hume is keeping the demand for rhino horns alive, the exact same reason he has to run a rhino refuge in the first place.

If there was scientific evidence showing that yes, indeed, the rhino horn does have medicinal value, this practise of Hume’s may have some merit, but until then… it seems education is still the way to go, the dispelling of incorrect beliefs about the properties of the rhino horn.

(And yes, easy for me to sit here in Canada and condemn a practise happening in South Africa when our own threatened species, the grizzly bear, is still being trophy hunted. Just as horrific, I know, I know.)

Father/daughter bonding. Really?

mooseThe trophy hunter being interviewed on the radio defended his ‘hobby’ by claiming that taking his 11-year-old daughter moose-hunting was the most incredible bonding moment he could ever imagine having with her. He spoke with a sense of awe and wonder. It didn’t matter that her first moose was a ‘small’ one, he said, (only 5 points on the antlers), the exhilaration of watching her shoot it, and seeing the thrill she derived from that experience was pure pleasure for him, “a life-altering moment”.

 The interviewer pointed out that it was certainly a life-altering moment for the moose, and suggested that the hunter and his daughter might have derived the same pleasure by simply photographing the moose. The hunter disagreed completely, saying that a photo would get stuffed away in a box somewhere and forgotten, but by hanging the moose-head in their home they would always remember the thrill of that special time together.

 I think he was serious.

 We surround ourselves with like-minded people, so when I heard the sincerity in this guy’s voice I was flabbergasted. Killing a beautiful wild animal for the sake of a trophy would not be a celebrated bonding moment that I would ever consider sharing with my daughters. I always try to understand the point of view of people with ideas that are different than my own, but this one is just too mind-boggling for me.

Photo credit:  http://huntfishmanitoba.ca/go-hunting/what-youll-hunt/moose-1662

Bears (Disneynature)

Bears, DisneynatureThe movie, Bears, by Disneynature is breathtakingly beautiful. While the credits roll at the end the audience is given a glimpse into the inside work of the film-makers, how they captured those amazing close-up scenes of bears fighting, playing, fishing. They even showed the mother bear in her hibernation den nursing her newborn cubs! But it was just a tease. I would like to have been a seagull for a day (or a year) so I could really see how it was done. That would be a movie in itself.

What I especially like about  Bears is that it does not preach. The message of doom and gloom and how humans are destroying the planet is not there. It simply shows a year in the life of a female bear with her two cubs, and what they need to do to survive. The setting is the unspoiled (by humans) wilderness of the artic. The narration has many comical moments but also ties all the visual scenes together. The backdrop scenery is stunning. The viewer comes away with renewed respect for this magnificent creature, the bear. Hopefully, this alone will empower the  viewer, young and old, to take action to preserve the bear’s habitat.

Spectacular, educational and the two cubs are unbelievably cute. A must see for all wildlife lovers.