Mali Brigade Is Protecting African Elephants

People like Lt. Col Faye Cuevas, a war-veteran-turned-conservationist, are exactly what wildlife warriors need. Africa, teeming with poachers and bearing the brunt of climate change, was especially up for change. To make up for Africa’s lack of resources, a Canadian team put up a brigade in Mali to protect its dwindling elephant population.

The brigade combines rangers and army forces, a necessary pairing for protecting wildlife in this hostile territory, regularly crisscrossed by offshoots of Al Qaeda and bandits.

Since launching the brigade in February, there have been no run-ins with poachers. Mali, normally plagued by other traffickers and petty bandits, has come a long way.

“The work,” Sergeant Sangare [of the brigade] said, “it is love.”

The brigade, led by the Wild Foundation and International Conservation Fund of Canada, is the first foreign helping hand Mali has received in some time. With locals expressing their dire need for basic necessities, the groups have also stepped in as community lifelines. It seems to me this act of selflessness is rarer than any ivory on the market.

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Denver Outlaws Cat Declawing

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.

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Canadian Village To House Dementia Patients

For lack of a better label, exclusive villages aren’t what they seem. In fact, one in the Netherlands exists primarily for transients. Even better — it runs on solar power! As the trend gains traction, Canada has slithered its way into the updraft, inaugurating its first “dementia community.”

“We’ve really designed and tried to build communities where people could be independent and live their own life their way,” [project leader Elroy] Jespersen said… “We thought we should add another piece to that to allow them to stay within, if you will, our ‘family’ of communities.”

The single-story, cottage-style homes will act as humble abodes to 78 residents. If there is one thing The Village isn’t, it’s a nursing home. Inhabitants will be able to shop, grab an Americano, and avail of regular services. Nonetheless, living costs remain a pressing issue.

“People will say that’s a lot of money, and it absolutely is a lot of money,” he said. “It’s about the same amount of money we would get from the government if the government funded us to provide care. That’s what it costs to do what we’re doing.”

Where money gets in the way, hopefully others vie for change.

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Montreal Lifts Breed-Specific Ban For New Bylaw

Both California and Vancouver’s efforts to promote the adoption of rescue animals is shaking up the pet community. Latest to catch on to the trend — or rather, undo an error — is Montreal. The breed-conscious city lifted a ban on pit bulls for a revised bylaw.

“The pit bull-style dog will no longer be considered a dangerous breed in Montreal,” [Coun. Craig] Sauve said. “We’ll have a global approach that includes all dogs and I believe it’s the right approach for Montreal.”

The city will also be slashing the need for special permits and mandatory muzzling. To better understand specific breeds, Montreal is consulting behavioral experts. A hand-in-hand decision with Quebec, Montreal is taking a more global approach to animal safety.

“What we want is to make sure Montrealers are safe (and) we want to prevent dog bites,” she said.

Perhaps our world isn’t so “dog-eat-dog” after all.

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British Columbia Bans Recreational Bear Hunting

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.

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Vancouver Busts Sale Of Cats And Dogs From Puppy Mills

It’s one small step for puppies and kittens and one giant leap for the animal kingdom! Once again, Canada has taken initiative–this time to ban the sale of puppy mill animals in pet stores. And you can bet I’m proud.

Put forward by City Councilmember Heather Deal, the motion to ban the sale of dog, cats, and rabbits in pet shops passed with a unanimous vote. Richmond and New Westminster have similar laws in effect.

Puppy mills engage in overbreeding for the sake of profit, often producing sick animals. Vancouver is now encouraging pet stores to partner with locals shelters to promote adoption.

Members of the Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, an animal welfare organization in Vancouver, had been protesting the sale of animals at this store for five years… The new legislation “sends a clear message to Vancouver residents and the rest of the world that city council believes in a humane community. A city that places animal welfare before profit.”

If you’ve now been inspired to hop on the adoption bandwagon, remember–you are picking out a friend for life!

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Canada Advances In The Human Rights Movement

Over the last decade, the LGBT community has seen victory after victory. While most societies now openly identify gender diverse communities with respect, homosexuality remains a crime in at least 70 countries. Having passed the Bill C-16 on Thursday, June 15, Canada is one step ahead in advancing LGBT rights.

The Senate approved Bill C-16, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression, by a vote of 67 to 11.

Passage of the legislation “marks a significant step toward recognizing transgender and gender diverse communities as worthy of dignity and respect,”

Canada further supports other LGBT movements.

Earlier this month, Canada announced it will assume the role of co-chair of the new Equal Rights Coalition.

Canada also promotes the extension of human rights for sexual minorities within the Commonwealth.

The country, under the Trudeau administration, has clearly shown leadership in advancing human rights.

Canada has an opportunity to lead the effort to persuade world leaders that they need not fear the rights of their citizens to live their lives as they choose, including in how they express their sexuality and gender.

Minorities have experienced inevitable backlash but prove to be resilient in a quickly developing world.

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