Time and again, elephants have proven that they are worth more than just their tusks. Back in August, they rescued hundreds of tourists from a flood in Nepal. And while some, like war veteran Col. Faye Cuevas, are doing their best to protect them, it seems the efforts are not enough. Last year, the U.K. has taken a favorable — albeit small — step towards banning almost all sales and exports of ivory products.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a consultation to end the trade in ivory of all ages — previous attempts at a ban would have excluded antique ivory produced before 1947.
The government says there will be some exemptions, for musical instruments and items of cultural importance.
A lack of clear restrictions is corroborating the fears of environmentalist groups, who are unsatisfied by the ban. They argue that the UK still leads in exporting legal pre-1947 ivory antiques even in the past few years, and though the transactions are technically not punishable by law, the high amount of sales stimulates demand and encourages poaching in Africa.
Nonetheless, pressures from conservationists and Prince William himself — a long-time campaigner against the trade — are pushing the government to impose a total ban. If I were being encouraged by English royalty to head towards a certain direction, I’d probably start walking.
At a wildlife conference in Vietnam, [Prince William] said: “Ivory is not something to be desired and when removed from an elephant it is not beautiful.
“So, the question is: why are we still trading it? We need governments to send a clear signal that trading in ivory is abhorrent.”
Well said, Prince William. I toot my horn (or tusk?) in your favor. While waiting for further updates this 2018 from the government of the UK, perhaps we could share a toast to the greatness of elephants.
Major cities like Vancouver may have banned the sale of puppy mill animals in pet stores, but other issues are still neglected. Pet owners are over-vaccinating their animals and, even worse, abandoning them. To combat animal cruelty, the city of Denver has stepped up to the plate and banned the declawing of cats.
“We don’t even call it declawing anymore,” Dr. Enid Stiles, a veterinarian from a Montreal suburb, said. “We have decided to call it partial digit amputation. It’s like you’re removing their knuckles,”
Denver is the first city to join another eight in California that have supported the ban. However, while the procedure is unnecessary, it remains entirely legal in Canada. Fortunately, few vets are willing to perform the surgery.
“I have a distinct impression that for new veterinarians, coming right out of schools, more will not want to perform the procedure,” she said. Some veterinary schools have even stopped teaching the procedure, Stiles added.
Cats may be chronic scratchers, but the behavior is nothing out of the ordinary. Purchasing a scratching post will save you the cost of surgery, and spare your cat from a lifetime of pain.
As oceans fill to the brim with discarded plastics, communities are doing what they can to manage the destructive material. While independent brand Eco Connect is finding ways to make plastic reusable, places like Kenya are simply banning the medium entirely. In the U.K., environmentalists are taking a less radical but highly effective step towards cleaner oceans. Daycares in southern England are officially banning glitter to prevent microplastics from contaminating water.
“Glitter is absolutely a microplastic and has the same potential to cause harm as any other microplastic…” [said research associate Alice Horton.]
Considering glitter is purely ornamental, there truly is no use for the material. Effective in only 19 Tops Day Nurseries, the ban won’t make a significant impact, but it sends a clear message.
“On a small scale, one nursery banning it is unlikely to have any environmental impact, but it’s a good environmental statement to make, like one person choosing not to buy bottled water to reduce plastic bottle waste. [It is] not going to change the world but [it] sets a target for others.”
Sometimes, change isn’t all about results — making a difference can arise from how one inspires another.
In the war against plastic, the U.K. is proving itself to be a leading champion. Its ban on cosmetic microbeads and large-scale installation of water fountains is doing wonders for the nation. Now, Queen Elizabeth is taking her own measures against waste, phasing out plastic straws and bottles in all royal estates.
A palace spokesman told the press that there was a “strong desire to tackle the issue” at the highest levels. “Across the organisation, the Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact,” he said.
On top of its plastic wipe-out, the palace itself is getting a green makeover. Solar panels will line its lush gardens, and the building will sport more efficient energy and composting systems. With 300 million tons of trash a year making their way into tranquil oceans, the Royals aren’t a family to be stagnant about it.
Prince Charles has delivered several speeches about damage to the oceans… he warned of an “escalating ecological and human disaster” from refuse in the seas. Charles and Dame Ellen MacArthur… offer a million-dollar cash prize to anyone with a great idea for keeping garbage out of the ocean.
I tip my hat off to you, Royal family. And I’m sure the fish do, too.
Throughout the course of history, women across the globe have been fighting for their rightful place in society. Unfortunately, the war is far from over — but women continue to speak out. Robyn and Michelle Lyle are working to remove the stigma on breast education. Now, Saudia Arabia is lifting its 27-year-old ban on female drivers — an enormous victory for thousands.
Saudi leaders… hope the new policy will help the economy by increasing women’s participation in the workplace. Many working Saudi women spend much of their salaries on drivers or must be driven to work by male relatives.
Many have attempted to justify the ban by claiming that driving would promote promiscuity or even damage women’s ovaries. For long, Saudi women have been subject to male “guardianship.” The law, which requires male consent for a woman’s actions, is limiting and humiliating. Eliminating the ban will have positive effects on many aspects of Saudi life.
Low oil prices have limited the government jobs that many Saudis have long relied on, and the kingdom is trying to push more citizens, including women, into private sector employment. But some working Saudi women say hiring private drivers to get them to and from work eats up much of their pay.
The decree is another breakthrough for Saudi’s female population, who were only given the right to vote in 2015.
These days, restaurants are not only serving up delicious new meals, but becoming mindful of their impact on the environment. Chains such as TGI’s are serving vegan burgers to reduce meat consumption, while bay-area cafes are returning oyster shells into oceans. Each bit of effort is unique, while every vision remains the same — to go green. Lavish with five-star establishments, California is taking its eco-consciousness even further against plastic straws. A new law requires sit-down restaurants to dispense straws only if specifically requested.
“Really, what’s at stake here is a few moments of convenience creating a years-long environmental threat,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay.
The bill follows California’s ban on single-use plastics and will hopefully transition into a total ban. Let’s be real. Paper straws are tons better than their plastic counterparts, but not when they thaw into a soggy mess.
“We are aware of the problem we’ve created with plastic and wanted to get away from it as much as possible,” said [Daniel] Parks, the beverage manager at Pagan Idol.
While every activist would prefer a complete wipe-out, it may take others some time to realize straws really aren’t all that.
It’s the end of an era for plastic products. In the past year, Kenya bid goodbye to plastic bags while the U.K. made a final salute to microbeads. Latest to kick the bucket are cotton buds, axed by Scotland’s government.
“Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets and this has to stop. Scotland’s sewerage… systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds, which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.” [said environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham.]
The ban is the first of its kind in the U.K. Subsequently, it has encouraged cotton product manufacturers to use biodegradable materials. E-charity Fidra has attempted a number of exhausting cotton bud clean-ups — and the damage isn’t pretty.
“This decisive action is great news for the environment and for wildlife. Cotton buds are a very visible sign of our hugely wasteful habits, turning up on beaches across the globe.” [said Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth.]
Sure, cotton swabs may feel pleasant in your ear — but not in oceans and definitely not in anyone’s stomach!
You know plastic waste is a problem when the UN is taking matters into its own hands. Its Environment Programme has partnered with 200 countries, of which the U.K. is taking things a step even further. Seconding an American enterprise, the U.K. is finally bringing a lingering microbead ban into effect.
“The world’s oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life,” said environment minister Thérèse Coffey.
The ban will force manufacturers to revamp products like exfoliators and toothpaste. Overall, it’s a good start for one of the world’s leading plastic consumers. The embargo will work hand-in-hand with additional efforts to charge extra for plastic products.
Mary Creagh MP, (environmental audit committee) EAC chair, said: “The microbead ban is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.”
For Mother Nature, hard work doesn’t come to an end. Ultimately, it’s us who suffer without her.
Following India’s campaign against the use of wild animals in circus shows, China has caved to international pressures. In a giant leap forward, the mass ivory consumer is finally placing a near-total ban on the material. Things will definitely be looking up for 30,000 African elephants slaughtered by poachers each year.
China and the U.S. both agreed to “near-complete” ivory bans, which prohibit the buying and selling of all but a limited number of antiques and a few other items.
Ivory is in demand for intricate carvings, trinkets, chopsticks, and other items.
With no proven clinical use, ivory used as medication is purely based on superstition. Despite previous international bans, China has consistently managed to quietly condone black market trade — until now.
“The Chinese government’s ban on its domestic ivory trade sends a message to the general public in China that the life of elephants is more important than the ivory carving culture,” said Gao Yufang, a Ph.D. student in conservation biology.
With no means to curve laws, China is finally bound to the positively inescapable ban. There is no guarantee to a drop in poaching, but when society gets it, it seems everything falls naturally into place.
As the animal kingdom experiences sharp drops in certain populations, there have been global efforts to keep them afloat. India has banned circus shows involving wild animals while the U.K. has banned bee pesticides. Latest to hop on the conservation train is British Columbia, which is putting an end to seasonal grizzly bear hunts.
“It is no longer socially acceptable to the vast majority of British Columbians to hunt grizzly bears,” [Forests Minister Doug] Donaldson said Monday. “That’s the message.”
For 15,000 grizzly bears, a halt to the spring hunt is a cause for celebration. Prior to the ban, 1,700 permit-holders hunted some 300 grizzlies annually. Despite the good news, the B.C. government is now faced with handling rural operators that thrive on the hunt.
“The easy decision is done,” she added. “Now the hard work on addressing all the other cumulative threats to grizzly bears, such as habitat loss and food supply, has to begin.” [said Grizzly Bear Foundation head Rachel Forbes.]
On the human side of things, wildlife protection isn’t all fun and games. For the animals, however, things aren’t so bad.