#StartWith1Thing: Christmas Choices

This Christmas you have so many choices to make – among other things you will be choosing what gifts to buy, what food to make, what treats to share…a lot of us will take to the cosmetics aisles to choose nice smelling pamper gifts for our loved ones.

Did you know about this database put together by PETA (thanks, PETA)? It’s amazing because you can search for any brand (makeup, personal-care products and more) to find out whether or not the item in question is “cruelty-free” (ie. not tested on animals). Most products that are ok have it written somewhere on the packaging but searching the database is a lot quicker.

I recently discovered some of my favourite brands which I always consider “natural”, “eco-friendly”, “good” and “responsible” brands still test their products on animals – brands like Herbal Essences (Procter & Gamble) and Aussie (Procter & Gamble) and Dove (Unilever). These smiley, happy, family friendly brands are just part of large corporations making no effort to move with the times.

Disappointing.

“Right now, millions of mice, rats, rabbits, primates, cats, dogs, and other animals are locked inside barren cages in laboratories across the country. They languish in pain, ache with loneliness, and long to be free. Instead, all they can do is sit and wait in fear of the next terrifying and painful procedure that will be performed on them.” ~ PETA

But, again, as consumers we have the power of choice. The power is in your hands.

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Fly Camping in Tarangire

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Back in September I went to spend a few nights in our Osunyai Lamarkau Wilderness Camp in Tarangire. From there I set up a fly camp to take some new pro-shots. It was tough…*sigh*. 🙂

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Sleeping in a smaller tent brings you that much closer to the nature around you. It’s amazing and I always encourage people to try it. I slept out here after the photoshoot and had lions roaring in the swamp below all night. This is why I love Tanzania.

What If?

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What if our religion was each other?

If our practice was our life?

If prayer was our words?

What if the Temple was the Earth?

If forests were our church?

If holy water—the rivers, lakes and oceans?

What if meditation was our relationships?

If the Teacher was life?

If wisdom was self-knowledge?

If love was the center of our being.

– Ganga White

Poisoned Lions and the Ongoing Conflict

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By now many have heard about the 8 lions from the Marsh pride who have been poisoned in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Two have lost their lives with the others still in critical condition. The KWS vets are doing all they can to help the lions recover.

However, it is very clear to see that the lions have been poisoned due to land conflict with the Masai. Every night, the Masai herd thousands of cattle into the National Park. While this is illegal the Masai do feel the land is theirs and they should be entitled to use it as they desire. They were roaming the lands long before it became established as a National Park.

The problem with this is simple: overgrazing. The impact the livestock are having on the land is absolutely incredible – not in a good way. The management of the Mara needs to be addressed. The Masai need to feel that they can benefit from Tourism, and as it stands, they don’t.

For a true inside perspective on what is happening in the Mara please read Jonathan & Angela Scott‘s blog.

Unfortunately, it’s not just happening in the Mara – it’s happening all over Africa. In September, I drove from Arusha to Tarangire National Park, entering at the Boundary Hill gate on a road I haven’t personally driven for years. I had heard about the impacts of overgrazing from friends and our guides but to see it first hand shocked the socks off me. It was still dry from the lack of rain but the land was totally bare, and the erosion was on another level. There were deep gullies from where the previous season’s rains had carved it’s way through the soil – with no vegetation holding the soil together the ground gets carved up like butter.

And still, at every bend, herds and herds of goats, sheep, cattle fill the area all the way up to the park boundary.

As the population races out of control people need to adapt. Cultures and traditions need to evolve. It’s not going to work if everyone continues to try and live in the past.

The world of the future is smaller than ever and we must all make sacrifices to allow space for our fellow mankind.

Education is the key.

The whole world needs to understand that each and every single one of us needs to do their part.

Every single one of us can make a difference.

#StartWith1Thing

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I’ve been trying to write this post for a few days now…actually more like a few weeks.

It’s really difficult to know where to start and where to go with all these thoughts rushing around my mind.

Basically, we need to think about how we (and I mean we as individuals, not governments or corporations) are going to save our Earth and ourselves. I’m very passionate about this – having grown up in Tanzania I have been completely in love with nature my entire life. I can’t imagine being any other way. But this isn’t always well received as I do tend to get carried away when talking about the things I love.

So I need to find a way to have a voice, make a difference, spread the word, halt/reverse the extinction of species and essentially create a world this growing population can live in sustainably.

Challenge accepted.

Let’s talk and discuss together how we can do this, the things that are important to us and the kind of planet we want to leave for our children to inherit. I’m so excited because I know there are plenty of passionate people out there.

First of all, if you haven’t seen it – please watch Racing Extinction. Prepare to be inspired.

Walking 90m above the ground – Nyungwe Forest

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The most amazing experience to do the canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest. We got the true rainforest experience as the heavens opened and thunder boomed as we looked out across the tree tops.

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Being a tree amongst trees – 90m+ above the forest floor.

It’s not every day you get knocked down by a silverback mountain gorilla…(today was awesome).

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Heading into the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda this morning. I love being in amongst the dense vegetation. It’s so beautiful.

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There was a lot of action in the Isabukuru family today. The babies were feeding, playing and annoying the silverback.

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I could do this every day.

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The No.2 silverback of the family was feeling grumpy and as I was sat directly in what turned out to be his path (see above) I was knocked down by the branch he’s holding in this photo. If you’re wondering what it felt like – it hurt…but it was also awesome.

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