Playing with Channel Island Foxes!

Oh my! Somedays are just OH my days. I have seen about five foxes in my life, in Alaska, Canada, Wyoming and The Holler. I was on Santa Cruz Island before and saw the Channel Island foxes, a very unusual species that live only on the Channel Islands, no where else in the world, but I wasn’t really taking photos then. So back I went to see them again and try and get their photos. We hiked all over stunning Santa Cruz Island, and I firmly believe that since I was seeking, I didn’t find. It was an hour until the boat left and I had already been waiting in the place I had seen them before for about an hour. Silent, still, waiting. When, at last, the first fox came out. She scuttled along this open but submerged ditch that I am guessing she built that led from her…

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India bans the import of all cosmetics tested on animals




The October 5, 2014, article “Bunny-free beauty” by Sriya Narayanan and Preeti Zachariah in The Hindu reports that in November, India will become the third place in the world to ban the import of products tested on animals, joining Israel and the European Union.


In 2013, India banned the testing of cosmetics within India. Now the import of cosmetics that contain any ingredients tested on animals has also been banned.


This remarkable step will make India a cruelty-free zone with regard to cosmetics.


Dr. Chinny Krishna, Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India is quoted as noting that it is only fitting that India, the land of ahimsa (“do no harm”) is leading the way with this ban. He said, “Cosmetics testing is a frivolous thing – thousands of animal lives are lost because of it.”


Organizations like Humane Society International and PETA India have worked with great determination to bring about this ban, conveying the message that modern science now offers many compassionate alternatives that render animal testing superfluous, as well as being generally unreliable in its ability to predict how chemicals and various ingredients will affect humans.


Alokparna Sengupta of HSI, who has worked tirelessly for this cause, commented on the uncertainty and unpredictability of animal testing, which makes it pointless, especially considering the vast amount of suffering involved. She said, “We’re elated and proud of India’s progressive step.”


Dr. Chaitanya Koduri, policy advisor to PETA India, talked about the advantages of some of the non-animal testing methods. There are now skin tests that use reconstructed human skin.


The ban will be of benefit, of course, to the animals; rabbits, hamsters, mice, and others, who will no longer suffer and be killed, but also to humans, who will have safer and more precisely-tested cosmetics, free of any guilt attached to having caused the suffering of animals.


It is anticipated that the cosmetics testing ban will pave the way for more alternative testing to take place in the pharmaceutical industry, over time replacing cruel testing on animals.


Alokparna Sengupta described her rewarding experience with a rabbit, now released from being a lab rabbit, who is cautiously learning to trust and relate to a human.


Congratulations to India and to the Indian animal groups that have brought about this compassionate victory for animals.


To read the original article in the Times of India, click here.


Photo: Larry D. Moore CC BY -SA 3.0 /

Plastic Bags Going, Going, Gone


Marks and Spencer carrier bag Marks and Spencer is one of the retailers that has agreed to donate the extra money from carrier bag sales to good causes in Scotland. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Small local moves here and there add up, on occasion, to major change. We are amazed to learn of the scale of the success in the Celtic region with the program to ensure consumers and vendors share in the cost of the environmental mess that plastic bags create. Thanks to the Guardian for this coverage:

Scottish shops start charging for bags

Charge of at least 5p a carrier bag introduced in bid to emulate 70% fall in usage in Wales and Northern Ireland

Scotland is joining Wales and Northern Ireland in charging shoppers for carrier bags , in an attempt to encourage sustainable behaviour among shoppers. Last year, shoppers at Scotland’s main supermarket chains alone used 800m single-use bags, most of…

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Mumbai joins the largest Global March ever for animals



By Team Thane SPCA


Mumbai united with lakhs of people in 137 cities across the globe demanding action by  individuals, peoples, governments to end the vile trade in body parts of endangered species like elephants and rhinos.


The largest March for Animals of its kind ever, across the globe, the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER) on 4th October 2014 aimed at raising awareness about the near – extinction status of elephants and rhinos and asking every government to play their part too, by increasing penalties for bribery, corruption and trafficking offenses, and by shutting down all retail outlets and ivory carving factories.


Elephants, Rhinos and such other large animals are “Keepers of our Forests”. Losing them would mean losing our forests, our rivers and an incredible ecological system. Illegal poaching these animals are increasingly being linked to funding of organised crime and armed militia groups, fuels conflict and poses environmental, development and security challenges. Our cultural need to own Ivory products or use horns of animals in medicines is leading these animals to extinction.


Thane SPCA was asked by the Global Organisers to host the event in Mumbai.


Mumbai marched through an area which has a lot of rich traders of ivory- which houses the Mantralaya, Hon’ble the High Court, State Police Headquarters, 5 Star Hotels – all in all a sensitive zone. To add to our woes, this was a long weekend of almost 5 days, the Eid coming up and the Code of Conduct stretch for the Legislative Assembly elections around the corner. So we were not given permission to March the entire way. Clad in eye catching red we started off with a gathering at Chowpatty, rode an open top BEST bus for 2 hours chanting Anti Poaching slogans, and ended with a silent march and demonstration at Chowpatty forming a human  chain.


Thane SPCA is humbled  that Marchers specially flew in from Bangalore, drove in from Pune, and joined us from the U.K and the U.S. We thank Raww India with who we partnered for this March.


We thank all organisers of all the 137 cities with whom we connected in spirit on this day and marched for a common cause.


We marched for the 672 elephants and the 18 rhinos who will be killed worldwide in the next one week for their tusks and their horns.


We marched for 100% TOTAL worldwide ivory and rhino horn BANS! We marched for strict enforcement, stiffer penalties and TO SHUT DOWN IVORY CARVING FACTORIES!


We Marched for Earth’s wild icons. We Marched for their survival. We Marched against extinction.


This year we were 60 of us, next year let us be 600 !


With warm regards,

Team Thane SPCA


To visit Thane SPCA’s website, click here

Photo: Courtesy of Thane SPCA



The Treetalker returns!

news from (and about) the trees

Been away for a month, meeting the trees for my next two books. All done, and now I can stay home for literally years!

In the meantime, the second volume of my nature book series, Secret Voices From the Forest: Thoughts and Dreams of North American Treesis available on my website (go to the “Buy Now” page for details), or on Amazon. Sorry, I seem to be too stupid to create a hyperlink.  Arrg.

cover-SV2To help tempt you to buy a copy, here’s a lovely new 5-star review from Foreword Clarion Reviews:

“This personification of wise trees offers spiritual insight into leading a peaceful, satisfying life. . . . Secret Voices from the Forest strongly evokes magic realism in that it both relates opinions and advice from trees and delivers real information about the ecosystems that surround them. This combination of fact and fantasy results in…

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Egypt: Top Islamic authorities urge mercy towards animals



The letter below, by Ahmed El Sherbiny, gives a description of the workshop held recently in Cairo, “Ending the Animal’s Life in a Merciful Way.”


This is a controversial topic, and there can be a tendency among animal people simply to dismiss the issue by saying that the only real answer is not to slaughter animals in the first place. While this answer is certainly logical, and in a way true, it really does nothing to help the animals that are being slaughtered in countries where eating meat is not going to stop anytime in the near future.


Mona Khalil, Chairperson of ESMA
Mona Khalil, Chairperson of ESMA (Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals)


For the cow, the sheep, the camel, or for any animal in a slaughterhouse, there is a very vast difference between a merciful death and an extremely painful one. The practical reality is that there are degrees of suffering – and less suffering, while it is in no way a satisfactory long-term solution – is, for the animal, vastly preferably to severe suffering.


Dina Zulficar, leading Egyptian animal advocate
Dina Zulficar, leading Egyptian animal advocate


So we need to be practical and advocate doing what is best for the animals themselves. Contrary to what is sometimes said, pursuing the goal of lessening suffering in slaughterhouses ought not to lead to complacency, instead it can raise awareness of the sad plight of animals used for food — and ultimately encourage a global movement away from the culture of eating meat. Both these goals need to happen simultaneously. They are complementary and not in conflict with each other.


Ahmed El Sherbiny, Chairperson of ESAF, EFAW, and MENAW, has once again, in a continuation of work initiated over the past several years, brought together Egyptian animal advocates and an outstanding array of Egyptian government officials, Moslem spiritual authorities, leaders in the international animal welfare movement, veterinarians, university professors, and others, to focus their attention on bringing significant change to the way animals are slaughtered.


croppedPic 7Dr Leopoldo, The OIE representatve presenting a presentation on Halal pre Slaughter.
Dr. Leopoldo, OIE representative, giving a presentation on Halal pre-slaughter


The Al Azhar center of learning in Cairo is the most universally respected and authoritative voice for the world’s Sunni Moslems. Al Azhar representatives attended the workshop, participated, and have endorsed the outcome. This represents a tremendous milestone, re-affirming the age-old Islamic tradition of mercy and compassion to all, both animals and people.


Pic 6


Letter from Ahmed El Sherbiny, organizer of the workshop, “Ending the Animal’s Life in a Merciful Way.”:


Dear Friends and Colleagues,


On Wednesday 24th of September, EFAW, The Egyptian Federation for Animal Welfare in association with ESAF, The Egyptian Society of Animal Friends held a workshop relating to “Ending The Animal’s Life in A Merciful Way.” The workshop was sponsored by the Al Azhar Institution, who assigned; Dr Nasser Farid Wasel, The Former Grand Mofty, and Dr. Abdullah El Nagar, the Dean of High Islamic studies, Member of Islamic Research League, Member of the International Fiqh Academy- Jeddah and Sheikh Fawzy El Zefzaf, the former Deputy of the Al Azhar Grand Sheikh.


Unfortunately, HRH Princess Alia Al Hussein did not attend due to security reasons, however she sent her best wishes for the workshop’s success.


Also Dr. Naser Farid, The Former Grand Mofty, was not able to participate due to medical reasons, Dr A. Nagar presented his message to the workshop.


The workshop was also attended by representatives of GOVS, The Egyptian Federation for Animal Welfare, Representatives from OIE, The International Health Organization, FAO, The Food and Agriculture Organization, CIWF, Compassion in World Farming, MLA,  liveCorp, NRC, National Research Centre and Individuals from Animal Welfare Activists, Faculty of Education, Ain Shams University and Veterinary Colleges, Cairo University.


A Lively debate took place and many issues were discussed relating to the Halal slaughter and stunning methods.


The Al Azhar representatives approved and endorsed the outcome of the workshop, this means the outcome carries religious weight to all Muslims all over the world.


We wish to apply these recommendations in the Islamic World slaughterhouses before the Sacrificing Muslim Feast to end the pre- slaughter cruelty to sacrificial animals.


Many thanks to MLA and LiveCorp for sponsoring this workshop.


Ahmed El Sherbiny

Attorney at Law

ESAF chairperson

EFAW chairperson

Menaw chairperson

+2 012 22111162

Cairo, Egypt



Top photo: © Charles Mccarthy /


Other photos: Courtesy of ESAF


We hope to have available the workshop’s recommendations and conclusions soon, and will post them when we do.


To visit ESAF’s Facebook page, click here.




The Big Rhino Debt Swap

The Big Rhino Debt Swap

Wildlife News The United States government and the Indonesian government has signed a new agreement that will see debt owned by Indonesia to the United States swapped for rhino protection and conservation measures. The new deal also involves Indonesian NGO KEHATI.
The agreement will see Indonesia commit about…

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