How long does the elephant have left on planet Earth? When will our greatest land mammal cease to wander?
Our notion of progress is tied to continuous industrial development. A notion that has been exported throughout the world. We’ve led ourselves to believe that the point of humanity is to build factories and convert nature into economically viable investments. But is this our true calling? Is this the path towards true enlightenment and natural harmony? What is the point of all the hard work and sacrifices of our ancestors over the millennia? Will we ever sate our need to consume? Or has a history of detachment from nature shaped us into a new type of animal, one who’s needs can never be met.
As more and more animals face extinction, it is up to us to ask ourselves what the point of our species is. Are we here solely to consume? Moving from one land to another until all resources are converted into dollars. And if some progress but others falter, is progress truly a progression?
Climbing Toronto’s CN Tower to raise money for World Wildlife Fund
Hey Everyone! First off, thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate each and every one of you and always look forward to seeing your reactions to my posts.
Next week, I am going to be climbing to the top of the CN Tower, which was formerly the tallest free standing structure in the world. It will be a bit of a slog and no doubt, I will be soaked with sweat. However, in order to join other racers in this sprint to the top, I need to raise 250 bucks!
Since my photos of animals are usually the most popular, I know you are all animal lovers. So, if you can, take a minute and donate whatever you can afford to help support WWF in their fight to preserve the worlds endangered species. Think how boring this planet would be if it were only humans (and tardigrades of course!) and no amazing animals. We get a hell of a lot out of this planet but we rarely ever give back. So here is an opportunity! Thanks for reading!
Unfortunately, my pockets were empty. In retrospect I should have known better. I should have packed some cookies from breakfast just in case. While travelling in a new country, it’s always good to have little odds and ends to give to the swarms of kids that come up to say hello. Or in some cases, a swarm of toque macaques.
I couldn’t resist those big brown eyes so I passed this fine fellow a stick, thinking he might enjoy playing with it. He quickly went about fashioning a pair of chopsticks and then looked back at me as if to say “So where’s the sushi?”
After holding a rather sleepy koala at Brisbane’s Koala Sanctuary, I made my way to the kangaroo pen. In a large fenced off area, kangaroos and emus roamed about munching on pellets.
I filled my pockets with hundreds of the little pellets and set forth to make friends with my new marsupial friends. It didn’t take long to lure a few bouncy kangaroos to my side. As they slobbered a meal out of my food filled hand, I used my free one to pat heads and scratch backs.
Another item checked off of my Australian bucket list.
The Great Migration is an epic event of nature, heralded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Taking place between Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Park and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, close to 2 million wildebeest make the giant loop in search of water and greener pastures.
During their constant search for survival, they bring new life into the world and lose lives at the end of their cycle. As the favourite meal for most of Africa’s major predators, wildebeest travel in giant herds with a swarm mentality, working as one unit for the preservation of their species.
Lessons from the natural world.
It was already dark when we loaded into a tuktuk to head to Turtle Beach. While enjoying the beaches of Tangalle, we learned that on that very night, turtles would be coming to shore to lay their eggs. There was no question as to whether we would go to witness this great spectacle of nature.
We arrived at the beach and met a Sri Lankan guide from the local conservation group who have taken it upon themselves to protect the turtles. He passed out headlamps and led us down to the water. Before long, great mounds were appearing on the shoreline. With slow methodical movements, the turtles dragged their massive bodies up onto the beach. Channeling Goldilocks, each turtle found a spot that was just right and began to dig. Powerful flippers threw sand at us as we watched the giants from under the sea dig their holes. Once the holes were up to snuff, tiny white eggs began dropping into the sand. The eggs would remain hidden below the sand until they were ready to hatch and return to their mothers, beneath the sea.
When I was 4 or 5, I wrote to Santa Claus to ask for two pet cheetahs. Not just one, but two real live cheetahs. Instead, Santa got me a stuffed animal that I would grow to love and defend. I had to defend him because in truth, he wasn’t a cheetah. He was a leopard. He lacked the distinguishing tear lines that are part of a cheetah’s costume. But I didn’t care. His name was Cheetah and I wasn’t about to come up with a new one.
Fast forward twenty years.
I was living in Australia and about to go to New Zealand for a month long adventure. A friend of my family was one of the head people at the Wellington Zoo and was kind enough to arrange a very special zoo encounter for me and my friends. We were going to meet a cheetah.
The day came and we pulled our busted old Wicked van into the zoo parking lot. We piled out and rushed to the entrance. We were taken on a behind the scenes tour and got to hold a baby kiwi bird. Despite how cute the bird was, all I could think about was the cheetah.
The time came and we met with two zookeepers who led us back to the cheetah enclosure. There they were. Two beautiful male cheetahs. We were going to meet one of them and his name was Charlie. We entered the enclosure and stood watching the big cat. He sauntered over and leapt effortlessly onto a platform. With my heart in my throat, out of lifelong love, I walked over and put my hands on his back. I ran my fingers over the intricate spots. I placed my hands on his rib cage, while standing behind him so as not to disturb him more than I already was, and felt the vibration of his breathing. He purred. I purred. It was love.
While on safari in Tanzania, it took about 5 seconds after seeing three vultures in a tree to start the following conversation in my head.
Buzzie: [to Flaps] Okay, so what we gonna do?
Flaps: I don’t know, what you wanna do?
Buzzie: Look, Flaps, first I say, “What we gonna do?” Then you say, “I don’t know, what you wanna do?” Then I say, “What we gonna do?” You say, “What you wanna do?” “What we gonna do?” “What you want…” Let’s do SOMETHING!
Flaps: Okay. What you wanna do?
Buzzie: Oh, blimey! There you go again. The same notes again!
Ziggy: I’ve got it! This time, I’ve really got it!
Buzzie: Now you’ve got it. So what we gonna do?
I was travelling with a group of friends through Egypt’s White Desert, located in the west of the country. The White Desert is a part of the Sahara Desert, the world’s largest non-polar desert which covers an area in North Africa roughly the size of the United States. This is where I found myself camping under a blanket of stars, revelling in deafening silence.
Our guide, Ahmed, prepared our campsite and a delicious meal cooked on an open fire. It was so good that we it even attracted a few desert foxes, who came to enjoy the leftovers.
I woke up before the sun. The crisp morning air was amplified by the altitude of camping on the ridge of a dormant volcano. I was on the last day of a week long safari through the pristine national parks of Tanzania. The last stop was Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive caldera. It is considered to be one of Africa’s greatest natural wonders and according to fossil evidence has been inhabited by various hominid species for over 3 million years.
We tore down our campsite as fast as we could and piled into the Toyota Landcruiser that had been our home for the last week. We were the first group to get to the entrance of the crater and hoped to catch the animals while they were still active.
The crater was filled with low hanging clouds as we descended the winding roads to the crater floor. As we pulled on to the pathways that crisscross the crater, we immediately came upon a pride of lions. We slowed the truck and approached at a crawl. As we got closer, the faces of the lionesses came into focus. Splashed across their powerful faces were the red remnants of the nights feast. We stopped our truck and peered out the windows at the carnivorous creatures as they licked their lips. With full bellies fuelling their indolence, they were in no hurry to move on. So, with time on our side we soaked in the majesty of these powerful predators and contemplated the flourishing life, and death, inside a volcanic crater.