54 reasons I’m vegan? As I work to wrap up this series, reasons 39-49 focus on African animals. Why African animals? Because they are the most unusual, vulnerable, tenacious, remarkable animals I’ve ever experienced. And many of them, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, hippos, wildebeests, buffalos, warthogs, and bush babies are herbivores. We’re like compadres.
Some of the best moments of my life arose during the three months we spent living in South Africa. From weeklong safaris in the bush to babysitting mongooses and bush babies, we experienced quintessential African wildlife. Living amongst giraffes, zebras, baboons, and vervets and the vast swaths of richly colored bush country and abundant wildlife was so Out of Africa‘esque. The only thing (I was) missing was Robert Redford. wink wink.
Check out some of my favorite wildlife posts and photos from our South African adventure:
~Elephants at Addo National Park
~Penguins in South Africa?
~An 8-day Kruger Safari: Adventure to Skukuza, Satara, and Olifants Rest Camps
~An 8-day Kruger Safari: Treasure Hunting in Tamboti and Lower Sabie
Throughout this post, enjoy some of the wildlife-inspired haikus I wrote while in South Africa. Click here to see a lengthy (and silly) poem I wrote To the Wildlife of Marloth Park.
Step in the shower
Oh, a spider. Curious.
Step out of shower
To the wildlife of
Marloth Park South Africa
Grateful for your gifts
#44: Hippos and African Buffalos
A red clay castle
Home for mongoose and warthogs
Bygone termite mounds
#47: Monkeys and Apes (No photos because I still haven’t seen apes –sad face emoticon- but I still adore them.)
#48: Hyaenas, Jackals, and Foxes (no photo)
#49: Bush Babies aka Galagos meaning little night monkey
Bush Babies! These outrageously love-coma primates could make one (as in myself) want to move to South Africa. A nocturnal mammal, one can see the red eyes of the Bush Babies in the trees at night. Read more from my blog post Daily Living in Marloth Park, South Africa.
The Stunning and Vital Animals of Africa Need Our Help
Many of the animals we saw on safari are threatened or endangered. Putting aside trophy hunting (remember Cecile the Lion?), poaching is a problem well out of control. China’s hunger for endangered animals has expanded beyond health (Chinese medicine) to wealth and status. As the middle class aspire to be like the wealthy elite, they are a major contributor to the illegal ivory trade. Showing or wearing ivory is a status symbol. Tiger-bone wine and shark fin soup showcase wealth.
In all corners of the world, there exist wealthy people who are driven to display their riches for a myriad of reasons and as a way to stake a status claim. Showing off cars or jewelry or whatever is not a crime. It only becomes a crime when the riches are wreaking environmental or social havoc, as is the case with too many people from China and what appears to be an addiction to pillaging the environment and killing endangered species. In 2014, 85% of transit passengers departing from one airport in Ethiopia who were caught with illegal ivory, were Chinese. That’s just one airport.
According to Africa Geographic, “Tanzania is the elephant poaching epicentre. In the 1970s the Selous-Mikumi region in southern Tanzania had one of the world’s great elephant herds, numbering well over 100,000. Today there are about 13,000. Poaching is done with military precision.” In April “poachers shot and killed the pilot of a conservation agency helicopter that was tracking them.”
From 2007 to 2014 an estimated 1/3 of the African elephant population was poached with only 352,000 remaining. This down from 1.3 million in 1979 which is down from 10 million prior to European colonization. This CNN article highlights more grisly details.
I recently wrote a comment on a petition to leaders in China asking them to please stop destroying wildlife. Along with overfishing, you are also the world’s biggest contributor to marine debris, and let’s not forget you are essentially killing off Africa’s most precious animals – elephants and rhinos – for what appears to be a great lack of virility in your male population. You consume shark fin soup with the enthusiasm of an addict leaping off the wagon without considering your contribution to the most unspeakable suffering to sharks. And then, there is the dog meat festival. I once thought I’d like to visit China, but no longer. I have too much contempt for the way your country is contributing to the destruction of the planet. And I plan to share this information widely.
So while traditional Chinese medicine was once the driving culprit leading to the extinction of animals like Rhinos (Rhino horn, which is made of keratin like our fingernails, is falsely touted as having medicinal qualities ranging from a cure for cancer to an aid for sexual stimulation), now wealth is the leading driver for killing African wildlife.
Illegal wildlife trade is a hot ticket in China. It’s claimed that the very elite are counting on the extinction of certain endangered animals, because this will increase the price they receive on their products. They are buying up products made from endangered species as a form of investment, because those items will become priceless when the animal is extinct. Clever. Evil, but clever. According to an article from TakePart, “Tigers, elephants, rhinos, bears, and even a few tree species have become new kinds of collectible investments, similar to fine art and antiques…”
I write the above fully realizing that one cannot generalize a situation and blame an entire country because of the offending parties. It’s unfair to those who care and try to rectify the problem. China did, after all, take an itty bitty step to protecting endangered species (at least animals they consider to be endangered) by making it illegal to eat them. I did some research on Chinese animal activists and found a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in about four years. I know there are Chinese activists out there, and I can imagine the pain and frustration they feel swimming against the tide of millions of countrymen whose social status is upgraded, validated, and rewarded by gorging on unethical consumerism like it’s an all-you-can eat buffet.
This does, however, give me tons of campaign ideas should Avaaz ever decide to hire me. Yes, I applied for a job with Avaaz. There, I said it.
Those Who Help
Former NBA star and Chinese hero, Yao Ming, is part of a public awareness campaign targeting consumption of ivory and rhino horn in China. This campaign is in partnership with WildAid, Save the Elephants, African Wildlife Foundation, and the Yao Ming Foundation.
If you’d like to help organizations that are making a difference for African wildlife, your donations to any of the following will be utilized well:
- Elephants Without Borders
- Community Markets for Conservation
This organization helps turn poachers into peacemakers.
- Big Life Foundation is emerging as a reputable contender in the anti-poaching world.
WildAid works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products by persuading consumers and strengthening enforcement.
- Save the Elephants
They develop and deploy cutting edge tracking systems to monitor and protect elephants. Through their Elephant Crisis Fund, they support more than 37 partners in the implementation of over 50 different projects for stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking and ending the demand for ivory.
Avaaz—meaning “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want. Their efforts span the realm of social and environmental justice.
If you want to make an informed decision about and optimize donations, read more about African conservation NGO’s here. According to this site, Wildlife Conservation Society is credited with doing the most effective work in Africa and African Parks is an NGO whose rangers take on full responsibility for protected wildlife. They have a poacher-to-protector amnesty program. This gives poachers an opportunity to surrender their weapons and apply for work in the park. Up to 45 poachers have been trained and deployed in the field as eco-guards.
Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
Africa – You can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the Hand of God. You watch the slope lope of a lioness and forget to breathe. You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. In Africa, there are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heart, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world.
~Jodi Picoult (American author)
Elephants have the largest brains of any mammal on the face of the Earth.
They are creative, altruistic and kind.
Hunting is not a sport. In a sport, both sides should know they’re in the game.
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.
Many years ago, I was in a Broadway show and I had to wear a fox fur around my shoulders. One day my hand touched one of the fox’s legs. It seemed to be in two pieces. Then it dawned on me…. her leg had probably been snapped in two by the steel trap that had caught it.
To see the other posts in this series click click click away
Post 1: International Homeless Animal Day & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 1-3
Post 2: Sanctuary One & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 4-11
Post 3: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Numbers 12-19
Post 4: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Coyotes and Wolves
Post 5: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Chickens and Turkeys
Post 6: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Smallish Animals and Reptiles 24-30
Post 7: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Marine Life & Birds
Post 8: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: African Animals
Post 9: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Rainforests, Air, Water, Soil, Climate Change, Peace & Hunger (50-54)