5 Unique Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas For Animal Lovers and Vegans

Lifestyle

1.  Artisan Gin That Supports Gorilla Conservation.

Excellent gift for those who appreciate artisan flavours yet still want to help animals in need. £1 per every bottle of Silverback Gin sold is donated to the Gorilla Organization.

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2.  Planet Earth II

If you are like me and didn’t schedule enough time to watch Planet Earth II when it was on TV, you can now download it. So get warm and cozy under the blankets and download Planet Earth II to watch with the ones you love. Planet Earth II Also available in DVD and Blue Ray formats. I know what I will be watching this Christmas. David Attenborough is all we want for Christmas!

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3. For The Beauty Queen: Vegan Make Up Brushes

Super-soft Start Makers make up brushes that are cruelty free! Made from soft synthetic fibers and bamboo. The brushes are available with Amazon Prime, which means next day delivery!

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4. For The Chocolate Lover: Vegan Chocolate Hamper Box

Show the vegan in your life love with this amazing hamper box, or nudge someone gently in the green direction 😉

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5. BrainBox board game

Test your knowledge with this fun board game. BrainBox is a fast memory game for the whole family.

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Leave a comment to share your unique ideas!

UNEP Report 2016: Chimpanzees are now extinct in Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo

#PrimatesAreNotPets, Conservation, Environment

[English] Chimpanzees are now extinct in Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo due to illegal trade in wildlife and habitat destruction.

Chimpanzes are essential to the health of the forests. Their partly digested foods (e.g. fruits), travel through the digestive tract before it is deposited with fertiliser. This helps the trees to disperse their seeds more easily.
To prevent the trade, do not support primates being kept as pets.

Although, cute as babies, chimpanzees are extremely dangerous when they reach maturity. Just like us, they can also develop mental illnesses if deprived of their habitat and love of their own species.

Keeping primates as pets is cruel. #KillTheTrade #PrimatesAreNotPets


[Lietuvių kalba] Nelegali prekyba laukiniais gyvūnais, tai jų pardavimas naminių gyvūnėlių prekybinimkams ir mėgėjams, sunaikino Šimpanzių populiacija. Šimpanzės jau pasiekė išnykimo riba Gambijos, Burkino ir Faso, Benino ir Togo šalyse.

Šimpanzės yra ypač naudingos miškams kuriuose jos gyvena. Jų suėstas maistas (t.y. vaisiai) yra iš dalies suardomas virškinimo trakte ir tada deponuojamas su trąšomis. Tai padeda miškui paskleisti sėklas. Nors mieli jų jaunikliai, šimpanzes yra itin pavojingos kai jos pasiekia brandą. Kaip ir mes, jos taip pat gali susirgti psichikos negalumais, ypač jei jos atkeliauja atimtos nuo naturalios gamtos, auga be meilės ir komunikacijos su savo rūšimi. Gamtoje jos gyvena didelėse grupėse, tai vieną šimpanze laikyti, kad ir kaip gerai prižiurint yra žiauru. Šimpanzės – tai ne žmonės, jos ne naminiai gyvūnai.

Siekiant užkirsti kelią tokiam sunaikinimuj, nepalaikykite beždžionių ir kitų primatų laikymą kaip naminiais gyvūnėliais. #killthetrade #primatesarenotpets

Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Lifestyle, Reading

The book I consumed in a single day.

 

Although, I usually don’t read fiction, I picked up The Vegetarian at an airport. I had a two-hour flight ahead and thought “why not read a little?”, before picking the Man Booker International Prize Winner as a book of choice. My two-hour flight couldn’t have gone faster. I read half of the book during that one journey.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, is a simple, straight-to-the-point read. A woman’s struggle with mental illness is beautifully portrayed from the perspective of her relatives and loved ones. Every perspective, every experience is intertwined. Her journey is transcended though the vivid, mesmerising and the ever so fragile story of love, abuse and family. My first impression of the book was that its an easy read. It had no fancy jargon that an-English-is-my-second-language person like myself, couldn’t understand. It was also a thrilling read that had me hooked. The descend of the protagonist’s mental state is so relatable, that anyone who even caught a glimpse of such devastation in real life, will be able to vividly picture the story that Han Kang so beautifully describes. If you liked the Fifty Shades of Grey books, you will enjoy this one.

I cannot wait to read Han Kang’s Human Acts book next.

Apes, extinction and the bushmeat trade – why they poach?

#PrimatesAreNotPets, Conservation, Environment

The illegal bushmeat trade threatens the already endangered great apes with extinction. But how does the bushmeat trade affect our closest living relatives, with whom we share over 98% DNA? The answer lies with the reasons why people hunt apes.

The Congo Basin, is not only home for apes, monkeys and other animals but also for people. Poverty, war and political unrest force people to rely on natural resources to survive. With lack of opportunities for economic development, people enter the forests illegally to set down traps for small deer (e.g. duikers), bats and rodents. However, the traps may also catch and lethally injure young gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. To have food on their tables, local people use what they can and sometimes have to resort to eating apes. However, many indigenous tribes that reside close to the habitat of great apes, believe that these animals are sacred. So much so that many indigenous legends teach them that gorillas and chimps are their ancestors, that their clans descended from them and therefore, it is prohibited to eat them.

Expanding human population however, dilutes these traditions. Another reason why people kill great apes for bush-meat is status. Some believe that exotic meat is exclusive, expensive and make them gain further importance in their social circles. Just like in the western world, the rich may purchase exotic skin handbags, fur coats or game meat, their traditions are not as different from ours. Lastly, traditional medicine is also a reason why people trade in bushmeat. Consumption of a strong silverback gorilla is thought to allow a man gain the gorilla’s strength and treat illnesses. Lack of education and actual healthcare will push these great apes to extinction.

What can you do? Share this message to spread the word of education. Also, when on holiday, do not be tempted to “try” exotic meats, or support any other trade in primates, e.g. keeping them as pets. Chances are that, the pet ape had its whole family killed and/or sold into the meat trade before the baby was sold as a pet.

I recommend reading more about this in the book:’Eating Apes’ by Dale Peterson:

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Over 70% of all great ape seizures are orangutans

#PrimatesAreNotPets, Conservation, Environment

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The illicit wildlife trade threatens species of all shapes and sizes.

According to UNEP 2016 report, of all great ape seizures, 70% are orangutans.

Major threats causing orangutan population decline are:

  • Forest degradation –  orangutan’s habitat is destroyed vastly by unsustainable palm oil plantations, and their subsequent forest fires, which are used by the industry to clear land for, you guessed it, more palm oil plantations.
  • Pet trade – cute and cuddly when young, orangutans get plenty of unwanted attention. Greedy humans shoot orangutan mothers to steal their young before selling the babies to the pet trade. Because orangutans share 97% of DNA with us and are wildly intelligent, with our genetic and emotional similarities we can only imagine how much pain and suffering the poor orangutans have to go through.
  • Human-wildlife conflict – coming back to lack of land left for orangutans,  orangutans often venture into plantations (e.g. palm oil) where farmers are prepared to shoot and beat them to protect their crops.

These critically endangered orange-furballs are disappearing at an alarming rate. It is estimated that in less than 50 years, they will be vanished from the surface of the earth, if the current rate of deforestation and wildlife trade continues.

Our vague memories of the magnificent orangutans will fade into history as they join the long list of animals that humans have exploited to extinction. Move over dodo and thylacine, lets add a great ape to the list….

Trip Advisor Criticised For Selling Cruel Animal Experiences

Environment, Tourism

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Foreword

Let us be honest, as tourists we are somewhat naive and gullible. First, we book a trip to some exotic country and plan to see the most it has to offer. If we are lucky enough to find one with exotic animals, we will pay to take pictures to share on social media. However, what may seem harmless, in actual fact, it endorses and supports slavery, money laundering and illegal trafficking. If those were human children chained and dressed up in ridiculous outfits, we would be appalled. But when they are bears, monkeys, elephants and tigers, we cannot help ourselves but forget how cruel the whole ordeal is. Thus, as tourists we book our trips and book “experiences” that allow us to take pictures, hug, or stroke wild animals. Even when such experiences are illegal and highly unethical.

Many of the animals that you will find being promoted as wildlife experiences are endangered (tigers, chimpanzees, orangutans, slow lorises etc.). Their endangered status is partly due to declining habitat size, human population pressures and environmental changes. However, the most damaging is the public perception and the occuring illegal wildlife trade. Thus, before we enroll ourselves in these questionable activities, why can we not stop and think “where did they get this animal from?” and more importantly “is this good for the animal’s welfare?”. Maybe it is our human greed, the need to own everything, to experience everything, the desire to tame wild animals, that eludes our common sence.

World Animal Protection has recently launched a new campaign encouraging the public to “Demand [Trip Advisor] stop promoting and selling tickets to cruel wildlife tourist attractions”. It is important to recognise that we all have a responsibility to change our bad (tourist) habits. We can change this by firstly stopping the demand for such attractions. But little will change unless we demand it from those who supply us with cruel experiences, that are sold under “entertainment”. Sign the petition here and demand Trip Advisor stop selling cruel wildlife experiences: Wildlife. Not Entertainers.

Avoid booking these experiences:

  • Taking pictures with any wild animals: if it could have come from the wild, it most definitely belongs in the wild.
  • Be wary of “sanctuaries” where animals are timid and tame enough to take pictures: they may have been sedated, especially for tourists.
  • “Sanctuaries” where only tiger, lion or other cubs are present with no adult animals in sight:  The adults are either sold for trophy hunting activities (as they are timid, not afraid of humans and thus easier to shoot), or are used as breeding machines while the cubs eventually are sold into the pet trade or for traditional medicine production.
  • Any animals performing tricks: remember how cruel circuses were considered to be. It’s like that, but worse. Animals are taken from the wild, tortured untill they “learn” the tricks and then spend long, sleepless, stressful hours performing for tourists.
  • Any animal (esp. elephant) rides: Elephants do not like being taken away from their caring families, having their spirits broken untill they are willing to give up and allow the trainer to torture them. They do not appreciate fat westerners breaking their backs for a stroll in the forest. All they ever wanted was to be with their families, left alone in peace.

 

Picture Credits: Tiger in chains & elephant ride from World Animal Protection Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign. Macaque by Iris.  

Mother’s Day – Primate Mothers

#PrimatesAreNotPets, Conservation, Environment

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Foreword

All mothers are great. They put up with our cheeky behaviours and nurture us when we are unwell. This mother’s day (6th March 2016) occurs during the year of the monkey. Which is why, I will explore, celebrate and attempt to truly understand these wonderful mothers.

Capuchin monkeys (Cebus sp.) are South American primates. These intelligent and charming monkeys have been recorded to use tools and even show cultural differences between neighbouring groups.

Capuchin mothers are attentive and caring. Newborns are totally dependent on their mothers who will carry them on their backs (pictured) until the baby is old enough to explore. Even then, the infant will initially make short trips, carefully discovering the world, coming back to the mother each time. During the first two years the mother will take care of her child with little help from the father. Some capuchin mothers will share caring duties amongst each other.

Unfortunately, many infants will be captured by poachers looking to make a quick profit, taken away and sold into to the pet trade before they can even forage for themselves. Whilst many countries deem this trade illegal, the lack of a definite ban for keeping primates as pets, allows “breeders” to sell monkeys into the pet trade. It is difficult to trace the origins of the monkeys sold into the pet trade and many are still being smuggled into the country illegally.

As “pets” these adorable primates will be dressed in baby clothes, forced to wear diapers and fed human diets. And all this stress, abuse and a complete misunderstanding of the needs that the animal will endure is all because someone said “I want one”.

Think about the angst of the mother when her baby is ripped from her arms. No mother should feel this way. Do not support keeping primates as pets.

#PrimatesAreNotPets

Chimpanzee Population To Halve In The Next 14 Years

#PrimatesAreNotPets, Conservation

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When Jane Goodall first observed chimpanzees in the 1960’s, she reported her ground-breaking discovery of ape tool use. Until then, tool use was reserved as a fundamentally human-only behaviour.  To this, Dr Louis Leakey famously said “We must now redefine man, redefine tool, or accept chimpanzees as human!”

However, despite our best efforts, chimpanzees have become increasingly endangered. Now, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) estimates that in only 14 years (by 2030) Africa can lose 50% of its chimpanzees! The decline is a product of habitat destruction, (illegal) logging, disease transmission, wildlife trade and poaching for bush meat/medicine. If the decline continues, total extinction of apes is predicted.

How can we help protect endangered primates?

Firstly, never support primates being kept as pets. More often than not, they have been taken from their wild mothers as babies, only to be sold in the illegal pet trade. Although chimpanzee babies are “cute”, they belong in the wild. Think that teenage humans are difficult to deal with but teenage chimpanzees are impossible to control! #PrimatesAreNotPets

Do share primate conservation news with your friends. Awareness is everything! Also, support your favourite wildlife conservation charities. The funds help them send scientists to the field, collect more information about the state of wildlife populations and habitats and then use this information to help protect them (often by pushing governments and raising public awareness). Did you know that the mere presence of scientists and their camps in forests help protect the resident species? Poachers are less likely to succeed around camps as regular patrols and surveys disturb their illegal activities. Also, animals have a better chance to recover their numbers there.

Check out these charities and organisations working to protect African apes:

 

Climate Change Conference To Go Ahead In Paris

Environment, News

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Following the recent events in Paris, many have wondered if the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) due in just two weeks time, would be cancelled. Despite the terror attacks on Paris that shocked the world and killed about 130 people, COP21 is still scheduled to commence. However, extra security measures will be implemented.  President François Hollande spoke out: “COP will bring hope and solidarity”. Donald Tusk, President of EU added that “We must demonstrate that the world is united in our fight against climate change, but also show solidarity against terrorism. Our presence in Paris should be a sign that the world is not intimidated.” 40,000 delegates plan to attend #COP21, which will begin on 30th November 2015. Read more about COP21 by clicking here.

“We must demonstrate that the world is united in our fight against climate change, but also show solidarity against terrorism. Our presence in Paris should be a sign that the world is not intimidated.” – Donald Tusk, President of EU

 

Quick Guide To Climate Change & UN’s Climate Change Summit 2015

Environment, News

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The United Nations’ Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) will take place in Paris in just two weeks time. This is your simple guide to understanding the event and why it is crucial for the future of our environment.

What is climate change?

We have witnessed the environmental temperature rise by a few degrees each year. Looking closely at data published by NASA, it is painfully obvious that over 100 years the climate has warmed exponentially. So who is to blame? Well, we are. We are responsible for this devious destruction of our own planet.

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Is climate change natural?

Some will argue that the climate change may be “naturally” occuring. Suggesting that humans have nothing to do with how mother nature reacts. After all, England was a tropical country 50 million years ago. However, this is just not a feasible explanation as the rate of which the earth has warmed is not typical for Earth’s climate. This warming coincides with the expansion of human population. Moreover, it perfectly correlates with the increased use of non-renewable energy and increased carbon emissions levels.

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How does climate change affect us?

Global climate change is no laughing matter. Just like terrorism and war, climate change kills thousands of lives each year. Floods and disease outbreaks often are attributed to warmer climates, which create excellent conditions for the spread of viruses and bacteria. Clean drinking water resources become sparse as climate warms. Finding/growing/harvesting food also becomes increasingly difficult. Yet little is done to prevent this. And prevent it we can.

How will COP21 help climate change?

At the #COP21 word leaders and governments are expected to reach a universal agreement on climate change. Kyoto protocol will be the key focus of the event, which requires governments to comply with the emission reduction targets. 40,000 delegates plan to attend COP21 in Paris, which will commence on 30th November 2015.

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UNEP report: Emission impacts climate change

“The conference is often referred to as COP21/CMP 11 because the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) are the Climate Convention’s bodies which ultimately adopt the decisions at the end of the conference.”