Tag Archives: National Parks

Kill all snakes and frogs!

Are we  clowns?

32% of amphibians; 24% of birds and 12% of mammals are in threat of extinction. Hundreds of these offer potential in medical science and in food improvements but even with that going for them we are still not unduly exercised by this reality. We are indeed fools.

Bushmaster snakes from South America kill in an interesting manner – their venom drops the blood pressure of their victims to zero. But the same venom hold potential in the manufacture of blood pressure medication.

The poison in Panamanian Poison Frogs offer possibility in alleviating heart conditions. One scorpion may prove useful in the production of molecules to fight brain tumours.

There are about 600 species of cone snails. Only six have been studied in any detail. Those who suffer from epilepsy should know that the poison in the dart that they inject into their prey  offers hope for this ailment. Yet we destroy the mangrove swamps that they need: why do we destroy them? We do it  to create shrimp farms.

Yes we are indeed clowns.

At this stage we need nothing less than a world conservation ethic  that millions of people in dozens of countries would experience  a wake-up call that all of us need to come together to stem this loss of species – even if it is only for our own selfish reasons.

We are indeed fools if we continue to allow this draining away of potential into extinction.


Nature Conservation – a Global Event?


Is it just me? Or are there others out there with similar views?

We are not winning the battle to conserve species. Indeed was there ever a time when we could say we were?

Right now as you read this blog, across the world in dozens of countries there are thousands of committed people and groups and clubs doing their best to protect habitats and biodiversity. In addition thousands of articles in magazines and Sunday Supplements  raise concerns for the run-away effect of global warming that is now creating consequences for all of us. Yet it is extraordinary that in spite of unusual storms and other odd climatic events, that are now increasingly common, that there is not a unified global-wide outcry by citizens.

So we need to ask the hard question – is all of the effort made by park rangers and scientists and others in national parks, and other places, around the world to win affection for nature having any permanent change of minds? There is no evidence that this intended good work is starting to generate a global consensus to protect species and their varied habitats.

Undoubtedly many of these fine talks and nature walks are enjoyable. But do even the finest of them actually change attitudes in a meaningful and sustained way that benefits nature?

We hold wildlife international conferences where politicians spout out words of concern and intent – and indeed sometime agree on a plan of action to protect habitats – only to have these aspirations drain away as soon as they pack their bags to return home.    

Why should we be surprised? Politicians do not carry to such meetings a broad and angry demand from their own people that meaningful agreements be reached to protect nature – and with the clear understanding that if nothing of significance is agreed that there will be political consequences when they return home. Unless we get to that level of public demand of our politicians nothing will change. Politicians will continue to drone out their indignation and meaningless sentiments.  

All my life I have lived with stories of rhino and elephants being killed; rare tigers and leopards taken for their fur and bone and blood; swamps drained on which exquisite frogs and cranes depend; coral rotting from polluted water or destroyed by fishermen; butterflies quietly dying from poisoning. Yet we register no moral outrage at what is happening.

So clearly we need another approach. We need to engage in something that will stir our imagination – and do it at a planet-wide level. Something on a global scale where we all can feel we have taken part.So what might we do? 

We need to come together to organize a world event for nature. Something that will register as the first step towards a planet-wide ethic for nature. Something too that will be remembered as the pivotal moment when millions of people, together, around the world, took up the banner for the protection of nature. If we achieve that then politicians will know they have serious issues to address.  

In Planet Dancing I have argued that we need to create a Children of the World Nature Reserve. Such a reserve would be paid for from pennies and cents and dollars and euros and other small change, collected from millions of children around the world. Such a place, created  by the efforts of children, would be special to them and they would want to know what lives in such a place and how it is managed on their behalf. On growing up these children would carry into their adult lives an understanding of habitats and what is needed if species are to survive. They would carry this understanding into their business and political judgments. This would be the start of a global awakening of what needs to be done.

Anything less than a global reach like this will fall short of what is now needed if we are ever to change minds in a way that will be meaningful.

(Extract from Planet Dancing.) 

China and Japan going to war?


I note that the dispute between these two countries over several small islands is escalating.

We have learned repeatedly from history that brinkmanship can, on the back of some small incident, cascade a dispute into unintentional outright warfare. It would be a tragedy if this were to happen yet again and young men and women were sent out once more to kill each other – over what – a few small islands! And on the wider world picture will the USA be drawn into this issue? And what attitude will Korea (North or South) take towards this difficulty close to them?

Both China and Japan need help to draw back from this dispute without either losing face.

The solution does not necessarily have to be left to politicians, which in the end can easily fail to achieve a peaceful outcome. We have learned that too from history.

But what if we, citizens of the world, in our hundreds of thousands, and indeed in numbers greater than that, were to partition both countries to agree that the disputed islands and the surrounding seas should be turned into a national park to be run jointly by both countries or under the management of the United Nations? 

This would lance the boil of ‘ownership’ and allow these two fine countries to remain at peace.

We could achieve this up-welling of world opinion towards such a solution and succeed in persuading both countries towards this compromise – provided we join our voices in sufficient numbers to make this peaceful outcome for these islands inevitable.

If reading this and are in agreement with the sentiment expressed, you might wish to re-tweet and re-blog to others this idea and that they in turn would be encouraged to contact others still to generate a chain reaction around the world towards this cause – would that not be a noble thing that all of us would have engaged in? China and Japan – and wildlife too would benefit from this effort from all of us.  

Together such an opinion expressed by great numbers of people could make the difference by allowing these two countries to see a practical alternative to war.



China and Japan – The disputed Islands


I note that the difficulty between China and Japan over these disputed islands is on the increase over the last few days. One incident, that perhaps no one could have predicted, would be all it would take to trigger war between these countries – with unknown consequences for other countries too.

Politically it can be difficult for a country to back down where it perceives a transgression against its sovereignty has occurred. In such a situation politicians can do with assistance to help them to draw back from the inevitable. This is where the rest of us, people of the world, could play a part for good.

What if we, in out hundreds of thousands, were to re-blog and re-tweet around the world that these disputed islands and the sea around them be proclaimed a national park to be managed by the UN? This would immediately reduce the growing conflict that now prevails between China and Japan. What if each of our countries, by the consensus we generate in our hundreds of thousands, were to bring this view to the floor of the UN for discussion and implementation – would we not have done a great thing? It would allow the two countries in conflict to move away from their difficulty without either losing face. It might be conceded by the parties in dispute that the islands be held as a national park for an agreed amount of time, perhaps 50 years, or until such time that a peaceful and permanent solution can be found between these two nations. The alternative, if nothing is done, would inevitably appear to be – war.

  If you find merit in what is proposed here, and are concerned about what might result if nothing is done, you might wish to re-blog and re-tweet this view so that together we can build a consensus of will around the world that could not be ignored.




Let us pick a day. On that day let the children of the world dance together under the sun. Let them dance in their own countries but let them know that other children are dancing too. Let them know that English children, Japanese children, German children, children in Amsterdam, South African children, the children of Burma and the children of Adelaide are dancing. Let them know that American children in San Francisco and Amarillo and around the Little Belt Mountains are all a-dance.

Let them know that they are dancing for the joy of being children; that they are dancing in celebration of nature in all her wonder. They should dance for the starfish. They should dance for the snow worms. They should dance for the musk turtles. They should dance for the snake flies and for the symmetry of tuna. They should dance for the snipefish and for the magpie larks.

They should dance too a requiem. A requiem for all the species that tried and failed. They should dance for the Great Auk; they should dance for the Japanese wolf and for the Labrador duck; they should dance for the elephant bird and for the Portuguese ibex; they should dance for the quagga and for the giant Irish deer.

And when the dancing stops the children should cheer with the joy of knowing that for the first time all the children of the planet danced together for nature and that things will never be the same again.

(Extract from the book – Planet Dancing.)



The alligator in a Florida swamp.


The alligator turned like a compass needle. It pointed its barely-above-water eyes at the bow of the canoe. The canoe glided between the flooded trunks of cypress trees and into the lemon water of the main channel.The alligator was not a ‘big-un’ as alligators go, but it was big enough for a boy to tell his dad – ‘Saw a huge ‘gator today pop.’

Size did not bother the alligator. He did not know what size meant. He knew strength. He respected strength. Twice he had been defeated by the strength of the green alligator with the one eye. Yes, he respected strength but he never made a linkage between size and strength. You simply went at it as best you could, and if it came back at you worse than you could give – then you backed off.

The alligator eyed the canoe again. . . . 

(Extract from the book – Planet Dancing.)


Three cheers for the little guys!


At first I found it difficult to see them. Then … there they were. Like tiny garden snails rafting together in little groups of a dozen or more. I was down on my knees leaning out over a sulphur-rich spring in Banff National Park in Canada. 

According to the experts in the park there are only five known populations of these snails in existence.

A really big guy in the world of these snails would be no larger than a pea. But conservation is not just about protecting the big and the conspicuous. Little fellows too should have a place in our hearts!

(Extract from the book  – Planet Dancing.)