Historic silverback “Cantsbee” earns his name a second time, makes astonishing return
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund trackers report that elderly and historic mountain gorilla silverback Cantsbee, who disappeared from his group on Oct. 10, and could not be found despite weeks of massive searching, was seen in his group on Jan. 4. Although the group was at some distance from the trackers and would not allow them to approach, a closer look on Jan. 5 provided evidence that the gorilla was indeed the missing Cantsbee!
Due to his advanced age (now 38 years old and beyond the statistical life expectancy for a mountain gorilla), the Fossey Fund had earlier presumed that he must have fallen ill, been left behind and subsequently died, since intensive searching over a month long period did not find any traces of him.
On their regular monitoring of Cantsbee’s former group on Jan. 4, Fossey Fund trackers were shocked to notice, from a distance of about 10 meters, that an “extra” silverback was in the group, which is now led by Cantsbee’s son, Gicurasi. They returned the next day determined to get conclusive evidence, including a closer look and photographs, and to determine the condition of the gorilla.
More surprises on the second day
Trackers reached the group later than usual on Jan. 5, due to the rough, steep terrain, full of ravines and dense foliage, as well as the distant location of the group. The group was split in two subgroups and our trackers first encountered one of these, led by young silverback Kureba. When they found the second subgroup, it was involved in an intense interaction with another group. But there was no doubt: elderly Cantsbee and silverback Gicurasi were leading the action and Cantsbee appeared to be in fine shape, running, displaying and smashing vegetation as a show of strength.
After about an hour, the whole group started to move away from the action, led by Cantsbee, with the females and youngsters following him, just like they used to in the past. Gicurasi and the younger silverbacks stayed behind, to continue facing off the intruding silverback, who was still following them. His name is Iyambere and he is a young silverback who just formed his group in 2015. Interestingly, he’s also another son of Cantsbee!
Field staff are amazed
“It’s hard to believe and to explain what has happened,” says Veronica Vecellio, Fossey Fund gorilla program manager in Rwanda. “We don’t know why Cantsbee left the group, where he went, whether he’s back to stay, and how he will work things out with Gicurasi’ dominance. But we are overjoyed to have him back so we can continue to monitor the oldest known silverback, who has been followed since birth and has such a remarkable story!”
“Cantsbee was named by Dian Fossey because she thought his mother was a male and so when she gave birth she said ‘it can’t be’. And now he has earned his name for a second time,” says Fossey Fund president and CEO/chief scientific officer Dr. Tara Stoinski.
“There are cases where younger males go off and return, usually as they try to establish their own future groups or status, but we have not seen a situation like Cantsbee’s return before. This shows that even after 50 years of close study, the gorillas can and will still surprise us and that there is always more to learn!”
Story reposted from http://rwandaupdates.com/longtime-missing-and-declared-dead-rwanda-n-silverback-gorilla-cantsbee-38-found-alive-leading-his-group/
December is a special month in our family. I was born in that month and our son’s birthday is only a few days apart from mine. Then Christmas celebrations.
Last night, I could not sleep when I went to bed. Totally overwhelmed by thoughts and gratitude. It is indeed a merry time for those us who feel loved, warm and safe, with more than enough to eat.
But who doesn’t know somebody who is ill this holiday season? Very dear friends of mine are grieving over the loss of their father. Last Thursday, a student shared the story of A., his family is trapped in Syria. That story stayed with me. Christmas can be the hardest time of year for those who are struggling financially, those who are lonely, especially those estranged from close family. And at this one time of year when most human beings are determined to be happy; for millions of animals, Christmas celebrations are the cause of considerable cruelty.
CHRISTMAS is literally “the mass for Christ”, the celebration of the birth of Christ.
It is an awakening, a birthing of the Christ Consciousness from inside of ourselves.
Christ must be lived to be known. In all good actions, in every material and spiritual service, and in the manger of meditation, the immortal Cosmic Christ is born anew. – Paramanhansa Yogananda
The Christ Consciousness is revealed in us as compassion. – Sharon Gannon
When we allow our own light of love to radiate into the world around us, it is Christmas. Christmas is not some grand event happening on December 25th. It is not depending on external circumstances. The word « light » in English, conveys a sense of not heavy and also illumination, bright. Giving and forgiving makes us (literally) light. Eating a plant-based diet too. Just like meditation unclutters the mind, chanting makes us beam. Yoga practices provide the sincere spiritual seeker with practical means for Self-Realization.
Christ Consciousness refers to the Light, that we are. It is the Self (with capital S), the Atman, it is our Buddha nature- It is Krishna Consciousness.
As the gentle swami Nirmalananda said: Love alone can dispel present madness of hate. Let your light (of love) so shine before all, as Christ asks us, that there may be ever more bright and radiating light which hatred cannot overshadow. When the heart rules the mind, life has altogether a different quality and dimension.
Let the Love that you are shine and Merry Christmas!
To animal protection advocates, a pledge to eat less meat is good news. Even a small step like Meatless Mondays is generally better than nothing. All too often, however, aspiring ethical eaters choose a favored animal or two to exclude from their diet, without actually reducing their total animal consumption. Despite good intentions, they may end up increasing animal suffering.
Many people, for example, swear off pigs and cows but continue to eat chickens and fish. Perhaps they categorize animals into those they eat and those they keep as pets; mammals, with their fur and their “windows to the soul” framed in long lashes, may seem more like the latter.
Replacing pigs and cows with birds and fish, though, usually leads to the slaughter of many more animals, because, with a few exceptions, birds and fish are smaller. If you were to eat a pound of beef a day — say a huge steak or four beef patties — you might take a year to consume a single animal. If you were instead to eat a daily pound of chicken or salmon, you might eat hundreds of animals per year.
Birds and fish are not demonstrably less sentient than mammals. People who have rescued turkeys report that when treated as pets they respond as such; they enjoy attention, affection and mental stimulation. Anybody who has spent real time with backyard hens knows that they have individual personalities. And while many of us were taught that fish have memories of only a few seconds, scientific experiments have shown that they can remember the location of a hole in a net many months after first learning about it. They can also recognize faces — one another’s and ours. Divers tell stories about, and have filmed themselves petting, friendly Groupers who swim up to them.
Few people are aware of the level of suffering experienced by a single bird or fish killed for human consumption, which is shocking even before that suffering is multiplied by the hundreds a person might eat in place of a cow or pig over the course of a year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture interprets the Federal Humane Slaughter Act as not covering birds. That means that 95% of land animals slaughtered for food in this country are excluded. They may have coverage under individual state laws, but that is far from sufficient. They are commonly thrown around, stuffed into shackles, and have their throats slit while conscious. When killing blades miss their necks, they are tossed alive into the scalding water of defeathering tanks. A recent Washington Post article reported that approximately 1 million turkeys and chickens are boiled to death every year.
While the differences between the nervous systems of fish and other animals has long been used as the basis for the argument that fish do not feel pain, recent experiments have left no doubt that they do. Fish who have irritants injected into their lips will rub their lips incessantly against their tank walls — unless those irritants are accompanied by pain relievers. So when a fish spends three days on a hook attached to the mile long line of a fishing vessel, that fish is probably spending three days in agony — and that’s before the fish is hauled onto a deck to die slowly of suffocation.
Marine mammal admirers may not know that dolphins, sea turtles and whales are killed by those fishing lines and caught in fishing nets. Further, the crisis of overfishing that depletes our oceans robs fish-eating animals of their food. Dead penguins wash up on coastlines, their bellies empty. When the fish are gone, the animals who depend on them cannot order tofu instead.
Crueler still than a diet that simply kills animals is one that also causes them egregious daily torment. In the U.S., most laying hens are still kept in battery cages, each hen crammed with four or five others in a space so small she is unable to stand up straight or spread her wings. She will live for at least a year in conditions worse than those that most of us find hard to handle on a five-hour flight across the country.
Though conditions are slightly better for hens in California, where traditional battery cages have been banned, the law does not require that hens be released from cages, only that the cages give them enough room to stand up and spread their wings. They may still live in stacks, showered by the excrement of the hens above them, and deprived of the ability to fulfill their natural instincts — to sunbathe, dustbathe and raise their young.
Even cage-free eggs generally come from hens who live in massive barns, choked by ammonia fumes. Though hens raised on pasture, the highest welfare standard, enjoy better conditions, they produce a negligible percentage of eggs in the United States. As there are no federal laws regulating their slaughter, their lives can end in horror. “Spent hens” may be thrown live into ditches and buried by bulldozers.
We recognize that people may avoid red meat on environmental grounds. Research suggests that pound for pound chicken is responsible for less environmental degradation than beef. Though some people may snicker about the impact of methane, or “cow farts,” the warming potential of methane is 30 times that of carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, a diet that is responsible for hundreds of times more suffering is not made ethical by producing a lower level of greenhouse gas emissions.
Anybody who gives up red meat on environmental grounds should also consider the methane emissions of dairy, as well as its local pollution. California’s San Joaquin Valley, responsible for a fifth of the nation’s milk production, has some of the worst air quality in the country. And dairy has built-in suffering. Mammals do not give milk until they give birth. People who work in the dairy industry report that mother cows will bellow for days for calves who have been carted off to veal crates. Veal calves are the waste product of the dairy industry.
We understand that most people are not yet ready to eschew all animal products and embrace a vegan lifestyle. But while substituting one meat or animal product for another may do more harm than good, making half of your meals plant-based is a superb half-measure. It’s not hard. We aren’t the only ones who think that Just Mayo’s plant-based mayonnaise tastes just as good as Hellman’s regular. And last year, when Whole Foods mistakenly sold plant-based “chick’n” in its regular chicken salad, not a single customer complained.
Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and the author of “Animal Liberation.” A selection of his short essays “Ethics in the Real World,” is out this month. Karen Dawn runs DawnWatch.com and is the author of “Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals.”
As children, my sister Jeanette and I would regularly entertain our friends wrapping our legs behind ours ears, though at the time, the word “yoga” was completely unknown to me. We very much liked to mimic Michael Jackson’s mesmerizing moves as well (remember the break-dance?). It was only when, in 2000, I was pregnant that I attended a yoga class for mums-to-be. I found the class boring, New Age kind of a thing, and never went back to that center. A few years later, I attended a more vigorous yoga class. It was a revelation, I felt like I was six years old again; not as flexible as I had been then, but still as blissfully happy. The practice made me high, I was in love! A few months into the class, I noticed that my chronic lower back pain had disappeared .
Playing in Nyungwe, Rwanda; Headstand, sirsasana, 2016
I am an avid reader, so whenever I come across something that triggers my passion to learn more about it, I raid libraries and bookstores. Amazon says that the book “Yoga and Vegetarianism” by Sharon Gannon was first delivered the first week of September 2009 (31 August – 9 September).
As a child, I had never taken any pleasure in eating animals and drinking milk. A story runs in my family about how my sister and I refused to eat fish saying that that whole grilled fish was “dead and staring at us”. I cannot myself remember ever saying that, but I do recall how I always loved observing ants and being fearful that I might kill them inadvertently while walking. And so, it is perhaps not all that surprising that reading “Yoga and Vegetarianism” turned me vegan overnight.
Both my paternal grandparents were lifelong vegetarian centenarians. My grandmother – who we affectionately called Jjajja (‘grandma’ in Luganda, one of Uganda’s main languages) – was the smartest and most generous woman I’ve ever known. She used to claim she could identify meat-eaters from a distance. Jjajja despised fat people and above all lazy people. And she adored her grandchildren, who she found absolutely perfect, even – or especially – the picky eater little me.
I guess it is because of her and our special relationship that my not eating meat as a child was never a problem in our family. But, from their perspective, the most difficult to accept was my disgust with and refusal to drink milk. Worse, still, my sense of smell was very strong and my gag reflex was overwhelming at times; I could never stand the smell of fresh cooking milk (done as a way of pasteurizing it) invading the whole house whenever fresh milk arrived straight from the farm. My sister could blackmail me into doing almost anything she wanted by threatening to dip her buttered toast into her morning tea. My mother too devised all manner of diplomatic excuses beforehand for my anticipated refusal to drink the milk I was offered wherever we went (almost everywhere), while at home she did her best to keep butter out of my food.
All Rwandans, particularly the Tutsi pastoralists, consider cows to be sacred and their milk the most perfect nourishment on earth, especially for kids. But the culture around cows goes well beyond their practical benefit. People are given cows’ names; telling a woman that she has a calf’s eyes is the highest form of complimenting her on how beautiful her eyes are. Similarly, the shades of human skin colour are often described in analogy with cows’ skin-colours, and traditional dances mimic cows’ gait, with women’s arms raised to look like and to move gracefully – like cows’ horns, as feet stamp rhythmically to drums and song. Traditionally, a cow has always been regarded as the most generous of gifts, offered only on special occasions, or as the highest mark of gratitude and friendship. Thus, in this cultural context, not liking milk let alone rejecting it outright, and worse, openly saying so, was considered a severe anomaly.
Nevertheless, over the years, as a teenager and a young adult, I ended up eating certain sorts of cheese (those without the buttery smell), chicken and fish. But “my side stories” about the private lives of ants and the dead people on my plate were there; ready to resurface at any moment. Even when I had given up on chicken, I was an on-and-off unhappy vegetarian. Reading “Yoga and Vegetarianism” was such a relief and a validation from the first words of the book. Sharon Gannon dedicated her book to:
«To those who want to be free
To those who do not want to be hurt by others
To those who do not want to be lied to, who want to be listened to
To those who do not want to live in poverty
To those who are sick but want to get well
To those who want to know the purpose of their lives.»
The clarity of Sharon Gannon’s message literally brought me back together and opened me to greater compassion for all beings (but first brought me greater awareness of my own prior ignorance).
According to the psychologist Melanie Joy “In one week, more farmed animals are killed than the total number of people killed in all wars throughout history.” But how did it all begin? Why does this total insanity continue? Why does it not make the world’s headlines?
I did ask myself these very same questions in 1994, when my people were being slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands in broad daylight in Rwanda; even as the overwhelming rest of the world went on with its business in total indifference. I concluded then, that human beings are simply the most violent animals on the planet, and that compassion is, perhaps, one of the rarest qualities of our species.
Many researchers agree that the advent of agriculture and the domestication of animals was a terrible moment in history. This is what Jeffrey Masson writes about it: “The domestication of plants was accompanied by the domestication of animals. They happened more or less simultaneously. Except for dogs, who were domesticated much earlier, the earliest animals to be domesticated were sheep, goats, pigs, and cows (from around 9000 B.C.E.). Obviously, the original point of animal domestication had to do with food. And of course, to eat animals, humans had to exclude the recognition that they had feelings and could suffer in much the same way we do.” He continues: “People in early indigenous cultures (Inuit, Aboriginal, Amerindian, Maori, and so on) asked forgiveness of an animal before they hunted it down and killed it. Killing may have been necessary, but it was not casual.”
It is worth noting that the terms, “stock market” and “capital” all derive from this herding culture where wealth was in livestock. The Latin root word for capital is capita, which means the head of a cow, goat, or sheep (the first animals to be domesticated). The exploitation of animals seems to have served as a template for capitalism as we know it today. Tracing slavery back to its beginnings, David Brion Davis (one of the world’s most prominent slavery historian) links it to the domestication of wild animals
So where do we start?
Whether we agree with Masson and Davis or not, we live in a time of global crisis.
In 2006, a UN report identified livestock as the leading human contributing cause of climate change. Studies and reports abound on the imperative to cut down animal products in order to mitigate climate change. As a species, we are collectively slowly facing the truth about animal industries – a topic that is generally hidden from our view.
The website http://www.killedsofar.com counts how many animals worldwide are killed for food. By the time I put the final point to this article, it counts 35 billions so far this year and 629 billions if we include marine life.
Many things have informed my views about food, animals and humans. I became vegan for ethical reasons and reflecting on my own relationship to other beings (not just other human beings) is a work in progress.
Eating a plant-based diet is the easiest, cheapest, and smartest thing that we, human beings, can do for our health, the planet, and the other animals.
Everyone, I believe, is trying to do his or her best. Among the many hats I wear, I am a yoga teacher as well as the mother of a thriving 14-year-old who has been a vegetarian since his birth. In the first capacity, my role is to provide education so that people will be more informed and make their own choices from a basis of knowledge rather than ignorance.
Over the years, I have seen a growing number of people becoming more interested in knowing exactly what was in their food; how everything in it was produced, and the impact of such eating choices on our living environment. My husband comes from a family of hunters, and for him, giving up on red meat and dairy products was a personal milestone. He has watched and recorded dozens of documentaries on animal rights and our vital environment. Thanks to his deep understanding of the stakes, our home is a vegan household.
With my son, we pride ourselves on making the most delicious vegan chocolate cake and pancakes.
For my husband, it was important to find tasty meat substitutes. And all I can tell you is that the spicy tempeh has never failed as a crowd-pleaser. Did I mention my mom was an incredible cook and a true foodie? Any cooking skills I have are from years of assisting her and being spoiled by my auntie who always sent me cookbooks for my birthday.
Learning how to veganize your favorite dish and/or to find a good substitute to dairy products if you’re hooked on them is a game changer.
Genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. If you are already considering becoming vegetarian or vegan, you only need to get started*. Don’t delay action, don’t overthink it. Some people prefer to set up meat-free days or to take a vegan pledge for a week or a month (there are many online support groups). Make sure you set doable goals and even better idea, get a friend to do it with you. The more, the merrier!
Shri Krishnah sharanam mama
I take refuge in the all-attractive Lord who is the true identity of all being.
Sharanam means refuge. This beautiful initiation mantra from the Pushtimarg tradition in India invites us to seek refuge, particularly when we are driven by strong emotions. Anger, hate and fear close us off to love and compassion. Seeking refuge means having the capacity to step back and to use particular tools or techniques—in this case, the repetition of mantra—to protect us from reacting immediately. Instead, we engage the mind with something calming, which buys us time and gets us back in touch with our true essence: boundless love and compassion, Krishna. Resolving a situation from this place yields much more constructive results. It means responding instead of reacting. It gives us the ability to stop cycles of violence and the escalation of conflict. Even if the other party refuses to cooperate or feels threatened, taking refuge in the mantra cleanses our heart and spirit, and moves us from separateness toward oneness.
Mantra transcends the calculating intellect and awakens a feeling of love and sweetness, gradually melting away the hard walls we have built around our hearts. The vibration of the Sanskrit language has a profound, transformative effect on a cellular level. Yogi Bhajan describes how chanting mantra affects our electromagnetic field and brain patterns, the master glands and even the stability of the blood. Mantra can totally remake our psyche. Asana and meditation practices have similar effects, inducing a mental focus and an energetic shift that become stronger than habitual, conditioned, reactive behavior.
Every major spiritual tradition agrees that love and compassion are the most important qualities for sustaining and protecting life. Each tradition has a figure who embodies perfection in love and compassion. In the Hindu/yogic tradition it is Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. He is often depicted as a child whose disarming qualities inspire us to love without inhibition. In Buddhism it is the supreme bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara, who made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to postpone his own Buddhahood until he has helped every one of them achieve nirvana. His mantra is Om mani padme hum, meaning that, in the same way that the lotus flower grows out of the mud, compassion is often deeply understood through great suffering and huge spiritual challenges. In Christianity the iconic figure is Jesus, whose story holds many parallels to Krishna’s. Krishna was born in a prison, Jesus in a stable, and both had to spend much of their lives in exile. Through the practice of sincerely contemplating these divine, enlightened beings, we do our very best to awaken their luminosity inside us, and to tailor our lives according to their examples.
Sister Chan Khong, a Buddhist nun ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh, endured unimaginable suffering during the war in Vietnam and has become one of the most outstanding living embodiments of compassion in our times. Although she had a degree in biology, her main mission was always to feed the hungry and the poor. What makes her service even more powerful is that she has had to serve anonymously, under a false identity, so as not to put the recipients of her aid in danger. Many times she risked her own life, dodging bullets and bombs while riding her bike through the streets of Saigon. One day, after a bombing, the streets were littered with dead bodies, and the government did not clean them up. The community of monks, nuns and peace workers took it upon themselves to remove the bodies and give them a proper burial. They could accomplish this extremely difficult task only by seeking refuge in the breath and in mantra. When boat people started drifting ashore in neighboring Southeast Asian countries, those governments ordered them pushed back out to sea, where they would eventually drown. For Chan Khong the first priority was saving lives, and in order to circumvent senseless rules and inhumane practices, disguises had to be used, laws had to be challenged in nonviolent ways and violations of human rights had to be reported to the international press. She was exiled from Vietnam, separated from family and friends and expelled from countries that did not want their cruelty exposed to the world. Sometimes she would be overwhelmed by strong emotions and start sobbing uncontrollably, until she remembered to take refuge in her breath. She and her sangha practiced walking meditation to learn the art of calming their feelings before taking action. From this practice came the ability to understand and have compassion for the people committing atrocities.
Compassion is a big word that is often trivialized. Most of us have been conditioned to be selective about our compassion. We may be able to express some degree of compassion to our family and friends but are unconcerned about those who live on the other side of the world, don’t look like us, or speak a different language. Chan Khong describes returning to Paris after being expelled from Singapore and being appalled to see people eating, drinking, laughing and enjoying life in cafes. Did they not know that their fellow human beings were drowning at sea? Through the practices of Yoga we learn that compassion does not discriminate. As PeTA founder Ingrid Newkirk says, “Some people seem to think that our compassion is a limited commodity, like a cake with only a few slices. » –