The Planetary Progression

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The People's Progress

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?

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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!

Sincerely,

Jesse

The Zebra and The Beest

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The Zebra and The Beest

Cohabiting on the plains of the Serengeti, zebra and wildebeest graze side by side. By enlarging the herd, there are more lookouts for toothsome predators. They may have different stripes, but when united for self preservation and faced with death, the differences fade away.

Just another lesson from the animal kingdom, one that we must embrace if we are to save our home from the perils of climate change. Happy Earth Day!

Burdened by Breakfast

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Burdened by Breakfast

The dense and heavy fog that filled Ngorongoro was just starting to abate as we reached the crater floor. Having spent the night sleeping on the rim of the dormant volcano, we woke invigorated by the splendour of our natural surroundings. We begged our guides to make sure we were the first truck inside the crater, and we got what we asked for.

Just as I was clawing the remnants of sleep from the corners of my eyes, we spotted a pride of lions sprawled in tall grass. As we approached, they barely flinched. The stains of blood smeared across their faces left them nearly comatose, burdened with the meat of a fresh kill. Behind them, we spotted a destroyed zebra carcass, picked clean. Hard to argue with the efficiency of nature.

The Curse of the Empty Pockets

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The Curse of the Empty Pockets

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?”

Lesson learned.

The Natural Business

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The Natural Business

Waterfalls and pools of ice blue water line the well worn path of the Milford Track. By celebrating the natural beauty of New Zealand, the Kiwis have established a lucrative renewable business based on the appreciation of nature, not its depletion.

Each part of the world has unique and stunning natural beauty. If we all had the same appreciation for our own back yard, our small speck of a planet would be in better shape. Your share of planet Earth is essential to the wellbeing of our home as a whole.

As celebrated photographer, Ansell Adams, famously said “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”

Turtle Beach

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Turtle Beach

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.

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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.

Charlie the Cheetah

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Charlie the Cheetah

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.

Why I Love Sharks And Why You Should Too

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Thanks to movies like Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, Bait and many more most of us grow up scared of sharks. Now, I assume at some point I was also scared. I’m sure that watching people get eaten by prehistoric flesh eating monsters worried me. But then I got over it.

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I’m not sure what it was exactly that did it but I imagine some of it has to do with scuba diving. I have had wonderful experiences with sharks. I’ve sat right beside a Port Jackson on a night dive watching him devour a sea urchin. I’ve seen Wobbegongs, Grey Nurse sharks and even one Blacktip Reef shark. Each experience I had with a shark blew my mind. The way they glide through the water effortlessly. They are just one big muscle, strong, quick and precise. They have evolved perfectly to their environment, the apex predator. Well, at least until we happened.

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Humans kill sharks at a devastating rate. We are responsible for a mass genocide. Human beings kill 100,000,000 sharks every single year. This is a staggering number. Now, the important thing to remember when it comes to sharks is that we are not attempting to control their populations. We are not breeding sharks like we breed cows or chickens. We are not ensuring the longevity of their species. According to scientists, we are doing it at a rate so fast that the shark populations have no time to recover. Sharks are slow growing and slow to reproduce. This means that if we continue at the same rate, most species of shark could be extinct within a generation.

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The worst part is that most of the sharks killed die by drowning. You may wonder, how can a shark drown? Well, they drown because fishermen who catch sharks catch them for their fins. Shark fins are considered a delicacy throughout many Asian countries. The fins are added to soups, but because they have next to no flavor, it is primarily used as a status symbol. The sharks are hauled up onto the decks of boats, their fins cut off and then pushed overboard. From there, they sink to the bottom of the ocean and slowly drown. The apex predator, an animal that hasn’t had to evolve for millions of years because of its sheer perfection in its environment is dying, finless at the bottom of the sea.

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Now, some of you may be thinking, why should I care? Sharks are scary and they might eat me when I go for a swim. Well to put that claim in perspective, are you afraid of elephants? Thanks to Dumbo and Babar you probably love them. However, according to statistics, elephants are responsible for about 500 human deaths a year. On the other hand, sharks are responsible for about 7, on average. Sure a shark may maim you or take a chunk out of your leg, but chances are you will survive.

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So, you still don’t care? Well, how about we approach it from another angle. Do you enjoy breathing? I sure do! Do you know what is responsible for most of the oxygen on planet Earth? Despite what you’ve heard, the rainforests are not really the lungs of the planet. The majority of our oxygen, 70-80%, comes from marine plants, predominantly algae. That is a staggering fact that not many of us appreciate. Now, what eats algae and marine plants? I would have to say fish. And to march further along this circle of life, what eats fish? Well, I would have to say sharks for the most part (and people!). Okay, cool. So what happens when there are no more sharks because we’ve put all of their fins in soup? There will be a lot more fish, right? And if there are a lot more fish, what are they going to eat? A lot more marine plant life and algae, right? And if our source that provides 70-80% of the oxygen that all living animals need to survive is severely depleted, what happens to us? You can probably guess.

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Although we continue to remove ourselves more and more from what we eat, we are still connected to every living thing on this planet. We need each other to survive. An important truth of science is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only change form. This means that for billions of years, the energy of the planet has been recycled and reused. We don’t own our energy, we are simply borrowing it until a time when we pass on and it takes another shape. So when we irresponsibly destroy an entire species, which lived on this planet long before we came along, we really are killing ourselves. So the next time you hear someone tell you how scary sharks are, maybe you should set them straight and tell them how much scarier a world without them would be.