conservation friendly apps

Glacier National Park ~ keep the world clean!

Hello beautiful people! Today I’m going to do a quick blog on some really cool environmentally friendly apps I found out about recently 🙂 Here goes!

Think Dirty ~ This is a free app that allows you to look up products such as cleaners, shampoos, sunscreens, toothpaste, fragrances, eye-shadows, dishwasher soap. and lots of other everyday supplies that you use! The app wants people to start thinking about how their products impact the world. It scales every product from 0 to 10, 10 being the worst for the environment. When you click on the product it will give a breakdown of the chemicals in it, as well as what makes it better or worse and why. If a dangerous chemical is listed, it will give an explanation for what makes it so dangerous. I found it really helpful and eye opening – especially when I looked up certain lotions and creams that I use regularly … they ended up being like an eight 😦 It will also give an “Our Picks” section where the app will give healthier alternatives than the product you looked up.

Good On You ~ “The global fashion industry has a huge problem with pollution, waste and human rights abuses.” This quote is from the About Us section of the app! This app will rate clothing brands depending on how they impact the world and will give information on how ethical they are. If you look up a brand, it will break down the brand into a labor section, and environment section, and an animal section. The labor section looks into the companies stance on how it treats its workers. This is very important, because it will show if the brand gives its workers living wage, and if they are working in healthy environments or sweatshops. The environment section shows whether or not the company uses eco-friendly materials, as well as how many hazardous chemicals are present in their system. The animal section talks about what animal products they use in their clothing!

Ecosia ~ This is an internet server that is SO COOL! What Ecosia does is every time you search something, you plant a tree! They use the profit from the search ads users generate to plant trees where they are most needed around the world. They publish “monthly financial reports and tree planting receipts.” They also “don’t sell your data to advertisers and have no third party trackers.” Right now, their projects include planting trees in Kenya, Indonesia. Ethiopia, Senegal, and so many other countries! I’ll let you check out the details on the specific projects!

I hope this helps! These apps really helped open my eyes to the different products/clothing brands I was using and to all the regions struggling with deforestation. If you have any more question on these apps let me know in the comments! See ya later!

the puppy mill problem cont…

The world can be so beautiful, let’s strive to find that beauty and hold on to it! This is a picture I took in a tulip garden.

Story time! My family wanted to buy a new puppy. Pets can be little bundles of joy, and we were looking forward to getting a poodle, since they were supposed to be good for allergies. In particular, my parents wanted a miniature poodle, since we don’t have room for a large dog. As amateur dog owners, we did not realize that owners who market poodles as miniature are not reliable, because miniature breeds of poodles don’t exist. Poodles come in all sizes, no guarantee, and we learned that the hard way.

Not knowing this made my family very susceptible to scammers and unreliable breeders. We found a breeder who we were interested in, and she seemed like the absolute nicest most sunshiney person we had ever …talked to … online. She seemed fine, all she wanted was a down payment of 300 (we’d pay the rest later) and – here’s the red flag – she wanted to meet us half-way between her home and ours, to make it easier for us. We had heard from a friend to always visit the facility of the people you buy puppies from, so we asked to. Never heard back.

If we had bought the puppy at the half-way point, we would have gotten a puppy with major health problems that was from inbred parents, and from a known owner of a puppy mill. This was all discovered after we did some research into the owner. Reviews claimed that she would take the down payment and sometimes never even show up with the puppy at the designated meeting point. Others said their puppy would be at the vet for months, and they couldn’t get her to respond for a refund. This is the danger puppy mills present.

We ended up buying a beautiful little puppy from the local rescue center. He had been left on the side of the road in a box. They gave him to us with all of his shots and medical costs paid for, and he only cost 200. We had visited out local pet store, but the puppies all cost around 1,000 and when we asked to see medical forms, they were incomplete and the manager couldn’t give direct information about their supplier. I remember feeling very uncomfortable and used. But, we ended up with a great dog from the rescue center!

I would encourage everyone, especially those living in the States, to visit the Humane Society’s “Horrible Hundred” document, which I’ll link below! It reveals some of the known puppy mills in the US right now, and gives some really awful descriptions about how they treat their dogs.

https://www.humanesociety.org/horrible-hundred

Try to buy from shelters! An etimated 3 million cats and dogs are eauthanized every year in US shelters. Also, just a fun fact, it costs around 500,000 to bust a puppy mill with around 250 animals. Any money going to this cause helps! And when one is found, those dogs and other animals are sent to shelters.

I would also encourage you to check out what safe pet stores will say verses what pet stores who buy from puppy mills claim.

~ even the darkest nights will end, and the sun will rise again ~

-Anon

can i just say … NO to puppy mills

This picture is from the Humane Society, they show it under their page on ways to stop puppy mills.

Hello lovely people, puppy mills are a HUGE problem – especially where I live. To start off, think about your dog. If you don’t have a dog, then think about your cat, or whatever pet you own – or even the cute puppies you saw five years ago in a box outside of a store! Any animal will do. Think about that animal being neglected so much, that it never got to go outside to use the bathroom. Neglected so much, that the crate it was living in was below ten other crates, and all the animals in the crates above just went to the bathroom on top of it. Their filth falling through the crates, since no one cared to clean it. I love my dog, and I can’t imagine her being forced to live in a crate her whole life, never even being able to stand up.

I know that was pretty vivid, but I hope it gets my point across that this is a major problem. So what is the exact definition of a puppy mill? – It is a commercial dog breeding facility where the animals’ health is neglected so that more of an overall profit will be made.

How can a profit be made if the animals are neglected? Why would anyone but a sick puppy? Well, let’s just start by saying these people who run mills don’t care about animals. They lie about the conditions animals are kept in and to keep up that lie, the puppy mills will sell to popular pet stores or at farmer’s markets, or even sell them on the side of the road. They most likely will not give specific documents showing that the puppies are healthy, and those selling will not be willing to show you their facility.

The data I collected for this article shows mainly a huge problem with puppy mills in the States, who have an estimated 10,000 puppy mills. But this is also a problem around the world. I’d encourage all who read this to look into the area you live in to see if there are puppy mills around you, and what you can do to stop them!

To give some background, there are few laws in the States that actually combat animal cruelty. The one law that all states have adopted is called the Animal Welfare Act. It was first legislated in 1966, and only calls that the necessities be provided to animals, such as food, water, and shelter. There are many obvious loopholes in this since you can provide a dog with basic needs and keep it in a crate their whole life. Also, this law is not enforced well, with fines or restrictions of breeding licenses rarely being given when the law is violated.

Still, a lot of people say that Anti-cruelty laws cover what the Animal Welfare Act doesn’t. Again, Animal Cruelty laws only cover basic animal needs. Pet stores and kennel clubs like the AKC argue that if these laws were adjusted at all, good breeders would be affected and wrongly fined. What most people don’t know is that in the US, many kennel clubs collect fees from puppy mills, and basically all commercial pet stores get their pups from the mills too.

Ever heard of Petland? It’s “one of the nation’s largest retail supporters of puppy mills.” Isn’t that crazy? A common phrase in pet stores is that “the puppies sold here are from a local breeder.” If this is said to you, leave. It is not true. Most puppies are shipped in from neighboring states or other countries. For example, in Texas over one summer 1,400 puppies can be shipped into the state. Most of them are so young, they can’t even open their eyes!

It can also be really dangerous for people to adopt dogs that were originally from puppy mills. There have been multiple cases when rabid puppies have been sent home with families! Puppy mills supply sick dogs, that are even possibly inbred, usually with no medical form. 2 million puppies are sold every year from puppy mills. 2 million puppies who come from parents that are sitting in their own filth for their entire life. Puppies that are neglected, hurt, and if they are not able to be sold will be abandoned to die. That is heartbreaking.

Comment on how this is a problem where you live! I’ll be finishing up this talk in the days to come. Sorry I took an unexpected break from my daily blogs, I’ll be posting every other day for now 🙂 See ya later!

References:

elephants pt 3 – the end.

Pretty picture I took – thought I’d share! I love nature 🙂

Hello beautiful people 🙂 Yesterday I wrote about exactly how the CITES classification system works and showed that the African elephant, or Loxodonta africana, is suffering due to the exceptions being made to its Appendix I classification. Today, I am going to talk about why countries want exceptions to the elephants’ classification, what CITES could do differently to help the species’ survival, and some counterpoints to my ideas! Enjoy 🙂

Let’s start off by stating that the countries who have African elephants categorized under Appendix II are Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These countries are not only permitted to trade live animals, but they are also given a quota of elephants they are allowed to hunt – specifically for trophies.

https://www.speciesplus.net/#/taxon_concepts/4521/legal

^^this is the link that will show you the quotas CITES gives each country!

Which leads me into my next point – The reason why most countries want exceptions to the Appendix I classification is because of trophy hunting. The biggest argument I can find for why trophy hunting would positively impact these countries is that it profits local communities – but this is not actually the case. While it is a CITES requirement that “The proceeds of the trade are used exclusively for elephant conservation and community conservation,” it’s been found that in actuality, only 3% of the revenue from trophy hunting will reach local communities. It’s really discouraging to me that CITES seems to have very unclear rules, as well as little enforcement. I’ll link events that have taken place recently to show even more laws being broken that are directly related to exceptions for the elephants’ classification, with no resulting action or retribution.

Yes, it’s a low quality picture. But hopefully it gets my point across! It shows what you’ll see when you follow the link I gave earlier.

Also, when one elephant is killed in a herd, it is detrimental to every single elephant in that group. Elephants rely on the leader of their herd, and with the head gone, the others will be in danger. Not only physical danger, but the mental impact of loosing a member of their “family” is not healthy.

My main claim at the beginning of this mini-series was that CITES should amend their permit system by not allowing any exceptions to the Appendix I import permits for species threatened with extinction. So, would not allowing any exceptions really help? Because in the past, other efforts to have complete bans on the trade of animals have not been effective. For example, looking at the IWC moratorium for whales, it lost authority over time with the number of whales killed yearly today matching numbers from 1986!

While that is a valid claim, I believe if CITES amended their permit system and started enforcing their agreements, it would make their regulations have less loopholes, leading to less overall elephant deaths. Currently CITES does not implement rules and regulations they have made on Appendix I trade exceptions. For example, in 2017 Cameroon was allowed a quota of 160 tusks as trophies, but they are under the Appendix I classification.

To review a few important facts from the past few days, approx. 35,000 elephants are killed every year, mainly for their tusks. And, not only is the population of African elephants decreasing, they are also threatened with extinction, and the population of African elephants are decreasing in countries specifically with exceptions to the Appendix I classification. An example of this in the country of Zimbabwe, which lost 16,462 African elephants from 2007 to 2013. If species are threatened with extinction, and their populations are decreasing in number – and it’s a requirement that exceptions made “will not be detrimental to the survival of the specimen involved,” – Then CITES needs to amend their permit system, because its not effectively helping the endangered species.

If CITES purpose is, “to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival,” then I would ask this question … are African elephants not considered animals too? If so, then CITES needs to amend their permit system and start fighting for the cause they are said to stand by.

Anyways, I hope y’all enjoyed that and I hope it was helpful! If you have any more questions or comments – feel free to leave them 🙂 I think this’ll wrap up my elephant talk, but I can make another if I need to! See ya later!

~ If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere ~

-Vincent Van Gogh

References:

the elephant problem cont…

This is a picture I took in Glacier National Park located in Montana and Canada. It has a rain-forest in North America, which is pretty awesome! Always strive to appreciate and save the world around you!

Hello lovely people 🙂 So in my last post I gave some facts about elephants and the foundation for what I will talk about today. The overarching question that I’ll be finding a solution to is … Is there any way to prevent the extinction of African elephants? Pretty big question – pretty long answer. Obviously there is no completely right answer, but we can try to look for some of the best solutions.

Here we go! Ok, so the United Nations helps to regulate the trade of endangered species around the world using an animal classification system. This is through their organization called CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna). CITES monitors and regulates the trade of certain species by assigning them to one of three Appendices. Species threatened with extinction are assigned to Appendix I. This is the classification African elephants are under right now! So the trade of Appendix I animals is prohibited except for a few exceptions – for those countries with exceptions, an import permit must be obtained if traded. Some countries with exceptions will instead place the animal under Appendix II, a lower classification, so that an import permit is not required. Animals normally classified under Appendix II are not threatened with extinction, but trade still has to be monitored and an export permit is required.

Wow! That was an information dump on y’all, but it’ll be very important later!

So you might be wondering, how do countries obtain exceptions to the Appendix I classifications? And, how does the trade of elephants affect the elephant populations? Well, I will answer those questions! 🙂 To obtain an exception to the Appendix I classification, the Scientific and Management Authorities where the animal lives must declare that the exception, “will not be detrimental to the survival of the specimen involved.” To review one fact from yesterday, approx. 35,000 elephants are killed every year, mainly for their tusks. And, not only is the population of African elephants decreasing, they are also threatened with extinction, and the population of African elephants is decreasing in countries specifically with exceptions to the Appendix I classification. An example of this in the country of Zimbabwe, which lost 16,462 African elephants from 2007 to 2013. Y’all, I just want these exceptions to stop being made! It’s just damaging the chance of elephants surviving even more.

Tomorrow I will give more information on why countries want the ability to trade elephants, and I’ll give an antithesis to my argument 🙂 See ya later!

~ Genesis 1:21 ~

References:

so, let’s talk elephants…

Yet another plug for you to TRAVEL 🙂 I took this picture in Yellowstone!

Hello beautiful people! I think I’m going to start a mini-series of posts about one of my most favorite animals in the world … wait for it … elephants!!!! 🙂

Here’s how it’ll work. I think I’ll start by laying out some facts about specifically African elephants, then I will build on those facts. After that, I will start talking about problems elephants are facing in the world today, and then some solutions to those said problems. Alright! Let’s get started 🙂

I absolutely love elephants! Lately, it has been hard to hear about certain animals across the world actually going extinct. We are always told about animals that are endangered, but when they actually go extinct – well, it’s a shock at least for me. I don’t really know why I’m always so surprised when I hear about an animal going extinct, but I always am. Maybe its the optimist in me – but that’s why I’m taking action now, rather than later, ya know? I want my kids to know what an African elephant is because they’ve seen one. Not because of pictures.

OK, Getting off of my soapbox 🙂 So, just to make this clear, African elephants are threatened with extinction. The scientific term for the genus is Loxodonta africana, so that’s why in my sources I’ll attach in the next post it might have that term. Around 35,000 African elephants are killed yearly. Ok re-read that number a few times and let it sink in for me.

Next fact – This number of deaths is due to mostly the tusk trade, as well as habitat loss, and the inevitable conflict with human populations. Now, under trading laws set in place through CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), trade of elephant tusks is allowed only if it is not “detrimental to the survival” of the species. – This is where I’ll put most of my attention, because elephant populations are still decreasing in countries who have exceptions to this law. I truly believe that CITES should amend their permit system by not allowing any exceptions to Appendix 1 import permits for African elephants.

In tomorrow’s blog I’ll go into exactly how animal classification and specific exceptions work within CITES! Also, if you disagree with my points or are looking for some sources to back up my facts – stick with me on this one! I will be giving some more points to my argument and more references tomorrow 🙂 I hope this was helpful, and maybe will get y’all interested in researching some more on this topic yourself! See ya later!

Here are a few sources I did use:

Brookings Institution. “Top Five African Countries for Loss in Elephant Populations between 2007 and 2013.” Statista – The Statistics Portal, Statista, http://www.statistica.com/statistics/528822/top-five-african-country-elephant-loss/.

“Loxodonta Africana Quotas.” Species+, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Jan. 2017, http://www.speciesplus.net/#/taxon_concepts/4521/legal.1, no.3, Winter 2017, pp.375-398. EBSCO host.

thoughts on madagascar cont…

Nope, not Madagascar, but it is a plug for traveling! Go out and see the world 🙂 This is a picture from Hawaii! Thanks for taking it dad!

Hello beautiful people 🙂 So I know my writing can be a bit dense, and I decided to go ahead and summarized/condensed my last post! Don’t worry, I’ll have some new material up-and-runnin’ tomorrow!

Alright, the main point of my research paper was that there is inevitable deforestation and unalterable environmental changes on the island of Madagascar. Yep – invasive plant species are overwhelming Madagascar’s already dying rain forest. BUT WAIT! What I think is so important to remember (as the world’s biggest optimist), is that we need to work with what we’ve got. For example – it’s important that conservationists ~ sorry for the continuous side comments, but anyone can be a conservationist, even you! 🙂 ~ seek ways for invasive species to positively impact the environment. Essentially I want the negative – crazy and annoying invasive plants – to be turned into a positive to help the creatures of Madagascar.

In general, when deforestation occurs in rain-forests, it causes fragmentation around the edges of the landscape (2). These fragments of forest will not sustain life, because they were not meant to be individual ecosystems (1)! Basically, all the animals (mostly tree-dwelling) within these fragments have no access to the rest of the forest they were cut off from. This leads to death and, if we’re being honest, to the possible extinction of the species (1).

In Madagascar specifically, when land is cultivated or cleared in any fashion, the open fragments of land created are very susceptible to invasive plants (1). Due to evolution, Malagasy forests do not have a competitive nature since their native plants have adapted over thousands of years on a secluded island that had little to no contact with invasive species (3).

As I already stated earlier, although invasive forests are not ideal, they are probably the best-case scenario to maintain the forest’s ecology. These “invasive forests,” once they enter an open fragment, create what’s called a secondary forest (3).

I looked at what Timothy Eppley’s research team did to help Malagasy mammals adapt to ecological changes. The first step they took was to see if the native tree-dwelling mammals would respond well to “buffer-zones” (1). These zones consisted of invasive plant species located in each fragment created by deforestation (3)! (So cool!) The team linked these forest fragments using an invasive plant called Melaleuca quinquenervia. Then, the team introduced the endangered southern bamboo lemur, Hapalemur meridionalis into the secondary forest (1). The end goal of this research was to allow animals a passage to the undisturbed section of forest (1)!

This research team examined the effects of the invasive species on the behavioral ecology of the lemurs (1). They that the “small-bodied folivore” adapted very well to the invasive plants and used them for feeding and nesting (1). These results showed an ecological flexibility that will aid the lemurs’ future survival (1)! As the lemurs adapt to the land between the rain-forest segments, they will be able to move freely to different parts of the tropics (1). Thankfully, the successful conclusions of this research will aid the “conservation management of remaining threatened populations” (1).

As stated by Lydia Beaudrot, Madagascar is “an island where deforestation, hunting, invasive species, and other human threats have resulted in the extinction of several endemic species” (5). Madagascar has an extremely damaged ecosystem, and “one-third of Madagascar’s mammals are considered to be either Critically Endangered or Endangered” (6). (which is really sad and mind-blowing!) This research used an invasive plant, originated because of deforestation, to help fight the effects of deforestation (1). I believe this was resourceful and it will help not only to save many species, but will also show the world that animals can adapt to change. If invasive species did not invade the barren deforested areas, there could be no chance for native species to survive at all!

Hope this helped! I went ahead and kept the numbers for my references if you’re interested! The numbers coordinate to the references on my last blog, “thoughts on madagascar.” See ya later 🙂