Friday, November 28, 2008

Wildlife Trafficking - Bangkok

Amidst all the carnage and horror of Mumbai it hardly seems worth running a blog piece about wildlife, but this item, which I cut from the Singapore newspaper The Straits Times of November 8th, shows an ugly side to the entire gamut of wildlife issues round the globe.
As you can easily see I had to get out the scissors and do some chopping in order to get the whole thing on to the scanner. It is one more example of how humans use and abuse wildlife. In this case the market is in Thailand's Bangkok, which is of course under a barrage of political strife right now, so this matter will receive scant attention from authorities dealing with more immediate issues.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bali Starling and Conservation

We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Bali, Indonesia. Even there the issues of conservation surfaced with regularity, but the information is a bit confusing. The poster child for this island is the Bali starling Leucopsar rothschildi. We used two guide books, the ultra-famous Lonely Planets, and another called Eyewitness Travel, which has many more pictures of places and people than its more famous cousin, but not as much information. Then I checked the Internet after Googling the bird’s name – this is where I got the accompanying photo, posted on the Bali Bird park web site here . It is in this park that the birds a bred in a conservation program that may be one of the most important on the island.

Both books agree that the numbers of truly wild starlings, also known as Rothschild’s mynah are desperately low, perhaps as few a ten animals, or maybe none at all, all confined (if there) to the Taman Nasional Bali Barat park in the island’s western region. Lonely Planets spells it out after telling the reader about release attempts from the pre-release centre in the national park. “
This proved impossible. Despite heroic efforts by some staff members, birds were often killed by predatory falcons, while countless other were stolen from the centre by armed thieves.
” The “armed thieves” bit is what caught my eye. The reasons for the theft is not hard to seek. Birds, according to Lonely Plants, can fetch USD $700 each.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Glasgow Vet in Africa: Uganda primary schools fund raising

A Glasgow Vet in Africa: Uganda primary schools fund raising Canadian Veterinarians Without Borders/ Vétérinaires Sans Frontiéres

Uganda primary schools fund raising

Things are moving ahead with the preparations for our 2009 Uganda trip. Most of the students who were not on duty at the clinic were able to come to the house for a curry supper. This gave us all a chance to meet in a less formal setting than the vet college. One of our recipes comes from an old book that was given to us by house guest Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Manning many years ago when she visited Saskatoon. The book, written by S.N.M. Khan in 1934 is called The Finest Indian Muslim Cooking and Becky found it in a used bookstore in her home town of Madsion, Wisconsin. The recipe, which is for mutton, can be seen here, but of course the paper is a bit faded, so you may need to enlarge the image. The other point is that we used venison, but that will come as no surprise to those who know us.

One of the main activities that is ongoing, and which we discussed, is a big fund-raising effort for support of the two primary schools we have supported in past years. One of them is located in the village of Kasenyi, on the shores of Lake George in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. The other is an AIDS orphanage located at the edge of the park. It is called Equator Highway Primary School. Her are a couple of pictures that show some of the efforts we have made in past years. At Kasenyi the children surprised and delighted us with a concert using the musical instruments that they had purchased with the funds we donated the previous year. There were drums, a large xylophone and several hand harps. At Equator the children were delighted with the teddy bears that had been knitted for us to take to Africa by our local Saskatoon charity Teddies for Tragedies as this photo by Tessa Leena shows.

The big news on this fund-raising is that we are able to go through the Canadian branch of Veterinarians Without Borders/ Vétérinaires Sans Frontiéres. This means that donors who need them will be able to get charitable receipts.