• MANGO UPDATE

    Dec 04 2013
    Oliver and Gitte with Mango at her new home

    Oliver and Gitte with Mango at her new home – a wonderful couple to care for Mango.

    …sorry it’s me again. A little update.

    A wedding in the US… a honeymoon in Mexico (where I found a baby turtle stuck upside down in the sand and helped it to the sea whilst being drunk on Pina Colada) …and then a hard, cold bump back to England: my year of helping animals already seems a long way off.

    I have, inevitably, retreated somewhat into comfort: hot showers, coffee and reading books that are about anything other than animals.

    But a few days ago Mango finally arrived to remind me of what it was all about.

    Mango arrived looking extremely distressed

    Mango arrived looking extremely distressed

    It was hard to comfort her at all..

    It was hard to comfort her at all..

    After a grueling 26 hour journey from Manila she appeared at Heathrow shrunken and scared and still wearing a sun-starched, filippino collar and a hang dog look on her face that provoked a deep feeling of guilt. I had put her through this ordeal. I could touch her but only just. What was I expecting? That she woudl come bounding up to me waving a union jack and crying ‘daddy’?

    She had grown up – what must she be now, 11 months? – but she still had the same dark eyes and gentle expression that I found in the corner of that street where I first met her.

     

    Mango meets Stanley - a much bigger version of the dogs she is used to...

    Mango meets Stanley – a much bigger version of the dogs she is used to…

    The point, I reminded myself as I struggled to make a physical connection with her, picking her up awkwardly onto my lap, was that she might by now not be alive. Not that there was much meat on her bones anyway…she would hardly make a meal like this.

    As you probably know it has always been an understanding on this year that I would not bring any animals back to our home. We have two dogs already and although I had harboured hopes that Mango would be a third I find it hard enough to control a coffee in my hand when Bug and Moose are pulling at the other let alone a rescue dog.

    For a number of weeks I have been in touch with AllDogsMatter and we have found a wonderful new home for Mango just outside London, with large, beautiful grounds and another very gentle dog. Oliver and Gitte are deeply committed to animal rescue charities and Oliver works at home meaning they can give Mango the quality care she needs – it really could not be better. I’m deeply grateful to Ira and Peter at AllDogsMatter for helping on this.

    Mango is now much more relaxed in her new home thanks to Oliver and Gite

    Mango is now much more relaxed in her new home thanks to Oliver and Gitte and the amazing care they are giving.

    Mango out on a walk with Stanley.

    Mango out on a walk with Stanley.

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    ..and finding a good snuggle in Oliver's lap...

    ..and finding a good snuggle in Oliver’s lap… (ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OLIVER AND GITTE)

    And so, from Manila out onto the M25 on a cold winter’s evening.

    I took Mango straight to her new home, glad that I hadn’t been able to foster her. She was in no state to be accosted by Moose and Bug only to be moved again a few days later.

    Oliver and Gitte have had mango for a few days now and they are perfect with her. They have given her patience, kindness and great chew treats and Mango seems farm more settled and confident. Oliver updates me regularly with photos and news and I will hopefully visit very soon to give you an update. I’m really very happy Mango has found two such wonderful people.

    To all those of you who supported her on this journey I am deeply grateful.

    I will keep you posted.

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  • DAY 319: HOW DO I SAVE FARM ANIMALS? THOUGHTS PLEASE!

    Aug 10 2013
    animal-saving_header

    LIVE EXPORTS – a horrendous cause of animal suffering around the world.

    This morning I’m about to head off to a demo in central London against the live export of animals for slaughter. Organised by Compassion in World Farming. Sheep and cows stuck in small trucks for many hot hours. Maybe I’ll get there by going on the tube – to get into the mood so to speak.

    Excuse the lack of blog updates recently, I’m working frantically behind the scenes to start my work on farm animals whilst tying up all the wild animals. So to speak.

    Next week I’m due to travel abroad to visit some farms undercover of which I will update you soon.  Oh and I’m still due to watch Earthlings…been avoiding that a little. Its on my computer.

    There is one big question swirling in my head which I wanted to spill onto the page and get your feedback

     

    HOW DO I SAVE  FARM ANIMALS?

    60 million+ animals a year killed in farms. What possible difference can I make?

    Here are my thoughts. But feedback please before i go off in the wrong direction.

    animal-saving_diet

    ANSWER 1) WITH DIET AND CONSUMER CHOICE.

    I’ll be looking carefully at what sort of impact a vege or vegan diet has on  our bodies, soul, the environment…and of course, the animals. But as usual filtering it through my fairly small brain and loose fingers for ease of reading. Do I need to become Vegan? I’m scared. I know I shouldn’t be but I feel I’m looking over the edge of a high (and fairly unstable) tofu cliff.

     

     

    animal-saving_lib

    ANSWER 2) ANIMAL LIBERATION:

    I’ve been told that liberating farm animals almost certainly ends up in jail time and multiple escaped cows wandering on motorways – in which case one of you will have to liberate me from prison. I’ve made a decision NOT to go down this route as much as you want to read about me running away from a high security farm with a pig under each arm chased by Giles with a shotgun (actually I just spoke to someone about this who WAS chased by a captive-bolt gun weilding farmer). I will however look at rescuing battery laying hens.

     

    animal-saving_awarenes

    ANSWER 3) RAISING AWARENESS:

    One of the best things I can do is tell a story of what goes on in farms. This is not saving animals per se but its still  the most useful action I can take. The ENTIRE  industry relies on people turning a blind eye to suffering on farms. To the slaughter, live export, rearing, separation. We ignore it and believe the pretty picture on the packet of healthy cows in a green field.

    But here’s the issue: there’s no point me preaching only to vegans, and there is no point doing writing something so grim everyone turns away – like they have always done. So I’ve decided I’m going to look at ‘respectable’ EU farms – not grim siberian slaughterhouses or egyptian market places  – and tell the story of  one animal only.

    I don’t want to shock, I just want to illuminate.

     

    Which aspect of farming is most cruel?

    Which farm animal do people most relate to?

    What story should I tell?

    How can I make a difference?

     

     

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  • DAY 305: HAVE I FINALLY LOST IT? RESCUING FROGS WHILST AVOIDING TINY DANCERS IN HANOI

    Jul 26 2013

    The start of this video is a little grim but don’t worry, it quickly fades into farce. At the time of making this I was all enveloped – now looking back on it I worry for my sanity.

    There is a lake in central Hanoi which is ‘protected’ from fishing. It lies serene in the heart of the old town amidst the incessant urban busyness around it. I have just released some fish and frogs into this lake from a rather brutal market. This sounds reasonable enough but I found myself walking round and round this lake, through dancers, badminton players, tourists, street vendors, tai-chi experts, all the while carrying a bag of frogs and live fish, panicking about where was best to release them.

    The street markets in Vietnam are fairly grim. I never thought I would wish death upon a creature like I have just done now. But seeing the way they kill – or rather don’t kill – the fish to keep them fresh right up until cooking is heartbreaking and makes me what to end it for them sooner rahter than later.

    It’s clear to me, as it shoudl have been a long time ago, that the suffering of fish is no different than the suffering of other creatures. Any distinction was in my mind, caused by a segmentation of compassion that I see echoed throughout the word: some creatures we care about, other creatures we don’t and the reasons and the reasons are never based on logic but prejudice instead.

    Vietnam is over and I feel empty-handed. How many pangolins did  I save?

    Zero.

    But how many could I have saved. I suspect zero .

    This is a global fight, and it begins in the hearts and minds of all of us.

    If you would like more information about pangolins or what you can do then see below:

    1) If you visit LAOS, VIETNAM, MALAYSIA, CHINA, CAMBODIA be aware that you are in pango territory. You might want to read up about them (see below), visit some conservation centres or make your feelings known to other travellers.

    2) Donate  money to the very small and  frugal pangolin research centre that I stayed in (click here for the CPCP) who don’t yet have a web site and are not government supported. $1 cares for Lucky or any other pangolin for a whole day.  Send money to myself marked PANGOLIN and I will pass it on. Like their facebook site here

    3) Support any of these with pangolin conservation programmes

     

    FINALLY – PASS ON THE LINK TO THIS BLOG.

    GO PANGOLINS!!! We have only a few years left to save them. WE CAN’T CRAWL INTO A BALL AND IGNORE THIS.

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  • DAY 296: RESCUING 7 BABY TORTOISES. DO SEVEN RIGHTS CORRECT ONE WRONG??

    Jul 17 2013

    Some better news. After feeling like such a dick-head for dumping a tortoise into a flowing stream my own guilt got me to go to another awful jungle market.

    I know that seven rights don’t correct a single wrong but can I please get some points for saving seven little babies?? Bill Oddie eat your heart out. Actually, don’t, that would be too weird.

    And so awful to see the baby pigs in wicker tubes. I sooo wanted to release one of those but felt that  dropping them into a stream or taking them back to my hotel room would not be productive. So f**king sad …

     

    These little piggies went to market. Baby pigs being sold for food. Sorry for poor picture quality, taken somewhat undercover.

    These little piggies went to market. Baby pigs being sold for food. Sorry for poor picture quality, taken somewhat undercover.

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    Don’t even ask. Some sort of wild jungle cat…or domestic cat???

    IMG_6404 IMG_6410

    Living lizard-reptile-beast thing waiting to be bought.

    Living lizard-reptile-beast thing waiting to be bought.

    Feeling a bit happier now that I've rescued something properly. Or have I...god only knows.

    Feeling a bit happier now that I’ve rescued something properly. Or have I…god only knows.

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  • DAY 280: DOGS AWAITING SLAUGHTER WEIGH HEAVY ON MY MIND AS I VISIT RESCUED PANGOLINS IN HANOI

    Jul 02 2013
    The wildlife rescue centre in Hanoi where I went to visit the remaining living pangolin - and where I was not allowed to take photos

    The wildlife rescue centre in Hanoi where I went to visit the remaining living pangolin – and where I was not allowed to take photos

    I’ve not slept well.

    I’ve been thinking about the remaining three dogs in the restaurant cell, awaiting their end. Is this sloppy British sentimentalism – or reasonable compassion?

    I’ve had to leave at 6am to get to Hanoi to see the pangolins before it’s too late. They too are about to perish in the rescue centre after their ordeal enroute to China. This is why I am here. I have to see them.

    The four hour journey from jungle to city has me wracked. I want to go back and rescue those dogs – or at least the youngest, the one with the hopeful stare – but at the same time it’s no solution. I have no where to put them and if they are released on to the street they will be caught again. The m0ney will just back into the dog meat treade. They are agressive too…and nervous and likely very sick.  And yet I am here to help. Fuck. If I was tougher I would put them on a rope and walk to Hanoi. I am not that man.

    Perhaps I should be

    I visited the government wildlife ‘rescue centre’ north of Hanoi to see the pangolins – but was only allowed if I took no photos of the pangolins (why I have no idea). A vast concrete complex, empty and parched and  sad, like a third world school out of hours. Occasional officials in smart uniforms strutting with communistic pride but otherwise full of echoes and emptiness. Then, far at the back, endless cages, some small, some vast, tuffed full of ‘seized’ wildlife from the trade.

    Young tigers, frantic civets, nervous gibbons,wide-eyed Loris, jungle cats, vast birds of prey. Hopelessly out of context in metal cages that stand in the heat. The animals are waiting for something that will never come: release. What will happen to them?  These are the so called lucky ones – the ones that have been caught from the traders but I fear for their future. This is no place for the sick animals and I can not imagine that many do well.

    the civets and pangolins were in the dark cages below the windows. I was not able to photograph them. grim

    the civets and pangolins were in the dark cages below the windows. I was not able to photograph them. grim

    The bare rescue centre

    The bare rescue centre

    Gibbon and child

    Gibbon and child

    IMG_6135

     

    Stroking a tiger

    I find myself stroking a tiger through the cage. A stupid thing to do but weirdly appropriate for this lawless non-zoo. I guess I want to give some human touch. A gibbon reaches out and tries to grab me with its long arms. It has a  baby that is so small that it has escaped the cage and sits on top  in new found freedom unsure of where to go next. Go back in to your mother before you grow to big! Or maybe just run….

    Then we see the pangolins. Depressing as hell. We walk into a  circular concrete building that has around it’s perimeter two rows of cages at floor height. Every single one has a civet inside it – a cat like creature that sells for about $30 on the market for meat – except for two cages that each have a small pangolin inside, rolled up into the inevitable ball on the hard concrete. Even I can see they are emaciated. These are the only two survivors of the 57 that were confiscated on the border of vietnam and china.

    Why the hell can’t these go to the proper rescue centre up in Cuc Phuong National Park where I was staying? Paperwork apparently. I ask to see the dead pangolins (7 of the 57 initially survived and were transported down here, 5 then died). But I am not allowed? Why? Why? I fear they have already been sold for meat to restaurants.  There are no answers here and I feel short changed.

     

    BACK FOR THE DOGS!

    Screw it. I’m going back to the jungle to rescue those dogs. I’ve decided. I’ll find a way. Enough animals in cages. I’m calling the pangolin rescue centre and will ask them to go and stop them being killed. Act first and worry later. There must be a home for them in Hanoi (where they eat dogs…Martin, what are you doing??????)

    Will report back…

     

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  • DAY 279: TWO PUPPIES SAVED FROM DOG MEAT TRADE – CAN YOU HELP ME NAME THEM?

     

    I have rescued these two puppies, but it was a long and painful story that left me feeling awful about some other dogs left behind. But these now have new lives.

    Will you help me name them?

    The first people to donate $50 can name one of these dogs – if you aren’t first then the money goes to feeding them for two whole years!!!!

     Read on.

    The two puppies that were saved from slaughter....

    The two puppies that were saved from slaughter….

    The three dogs that were left behind to a very uncertain fate.

    The three dogs that were left behind to a very uncertain fate. Shall I go back??

    I just heard that two of the pangolins that were seized on the Chinese border are left alive. They are now in Hanoi, 4 hours away, and I have been told I may go but have to wait a day – paperwork, routine, corruption probably, it’s all so frustrating when the poor creatures might have a chance of being saved here in the rescue centre..

    To regain a sense of control I started asking about dogs and whether I could help any. Dogs…my fall back position.

    ‘Oh,’ said the wildlife guide here, ‘it very easy to eat dog. Everyone does it! I take you to a dog meat market’

    ‘No, no, I want to save some dogs not eat them’…then I started thinking. Could I face it? Could I help?

    ‘OK, we go to dog market’

    Unlike the Philippines it is legal to kill and eat dogs over here. The pooches aren’t farmed like in Korea, but this isn’t necessarily that much better. People breed their dogs, keep one or two for utility and sell the rest at 3+ months to restaurants. They may also sell the first one or two dogs if they get sick or dont’ behave or they need the cash. So a relatively free pet  finds itself couped up in a concrete cell behind a restaurant waiting to have its throat slit. No stunning first.

    one of the puppies that would end up for dog meat before it was rescued.

    one of the puppies that would end up for dog meat before it was rescued.

     

     

    Dog meat – not my idea of fun

    The idea of dog meat is as far from my comfort zone as London is from Hanoi. But I feel I need to see where the dogs go to be kept before they are slaughtered. As a recent meat eater attempting to heal the divisions in my soul I ought to look at some painful contradictions: if I ate pig then shouldn’t I see what goes into dog meat?  They are both smart animals, they both have a right to life.

    But what to do then? Do I rescue a dog? Will that not make the whole thing worse? Where do I put it?

    I asked frantically if there was anyone that would care for a dog if I rescued it.

    It turned out that the pangolin keeper, Mr Thang, a 60 year old or so with a kind face, had two dogs at home and another had recently died – at 22 years. I asked if we could go to the market via his house so I could see what conditions he kept them in and when we did I saw a simple but comfortable home where the dogs were well-looked after. It was worth a chance. I promised to provide enough money to pay for 4 years food – $200.

     

    Mr Thang - the pangolin keeper who also has dogs at his home. He agreed to take on this puppies for life. Thank him not me...

    Mr Thang – the pangolin keeper who also has dogs at his home. He agreed to take on this puppies for life. Thank him not me…

     

    Dog meat restaurant visit

    After a short while on our motorbikes, my guide and Mr Thang found a local restaurant that sold dog meat. In the back was a small concrete cell where they kept their dogs – the owner happily showed us three small animals. They sat  in the dark, heads bowed, eyes unwilling to make contact with us. A small bowl of water on rough concrete. The owner took out a stick with a sharp metal hook and prodded the dogs on the necks and they howled. I got furious and stopped him. He laughed at my apparently inappropriate reaction.

    One dog, the smallest, then looked up and stared into my eyes with a hang dog expression and that was too much. I had to get him out. Call me a softy.

    The cell where the dogs were kept

    The cell where the dogs were kept

    Buying a dog from the dog meat trade is a highly suspect thing to do. Short term-ism. You buy one and the owner then buys two more to replace it. And yet…. what is this year about it not following my heart before my head? Rescuing a dog would not solve the dog meat trade but it would solve an entire life for that individual dog. What would I do if that dog was moose or bug?

    But the haggling was a disaster. The man wouldn’t drop below $70 and both my guide and Mr Thank demanded I leave. That was way too much money and he would simply buy another 3 or 4 dogs. I pleaded but they urged me to go, My Thang saying that he thought the dog would be sick and too aggressive. It was his call and reluctanly I got on the motorbike, a bag of invisible guilt hanging off the back of my seat, dragging through the dust as we bumped back towards the rescue centre.

     

    The restaurant owner who controlled his dogs with pole and hook

    The restaurant owner who controlled his dogs with pole and hook

    DO YOU WANT TO NAME A DOG?

    I pleaded to go back. Finally they had a better idea.

    They knew someone that had recently had a litter. The dogs would be bound for the meat market in a few months and we could buy a few who were not sick for very little money. We stopped off at a small farm and Mr Thang’s eyes lit up as we found two perfect dogs for about $10 each. We took them back to his house, introduced them to his other dogs and fed them and watered them. Mr Thang is not a vet but he is a nurse, able to offer injections and elementary care. This is better for the pups than having their throats slit, lets put it that way.

    I gave Mr Thang $100, promised to give him $100 more when he reported back in 3 months on their welfare and left.

    The first two people to donate $50 can name these dogs (if you donate but are not first the money will go to their on going care, food, and medical bills).

    Mr Thang, very happy with his two new additions. Please donate $50 if you want to name them!

    Mr Thang, very happy with his two new additions. Please donate $50 if you want to name them!

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    IMG_8799

     

     

    Still feel awful

    BUt I tell you – I still feel awful about the dogs in the cell.

    What can I do? I’m here to help – I have to get them out…

    thinking hard…

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  • DAY 276: ANTS WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD AND EAT OUR FACES…unless we save the pangolin

    Jun 29 2013
    Pangolins are in a terrible hole? How can we help?.... read on...

    I shall save you from the ants…but you must save me. Pangolins are in a terribly dark place at the moment. How can we help?…. read on…

    For the last few days I’ve been living in a crappy bedroom by the forest spending much of my time clearing baby frogs from under my bed (WHERE DO THEY COME FROM??) and reading about pangos, photographing pangos and hanging out with LUCKY as though we might elope together. 

    We're off to tenerife to get wasted together

    We’re off to tenerife to get wasted together

    Here are some more essential pangolin facts including the little known notion that if they die out we may just be taken over by face-eating termites. Nevertheless, on a daily basis pangos are dying in bags rolled into balls staring at their own tiny penises ….not a way to go for such an important little creature.

    one of eight frogs I have now found under my bed and 'rescued'. What can I say, everyone wants to sleep with me...

    one of eight frogs I have now found under my bed and ‘rescued’. What can I say, everyone wants to sleep with me…

     

    ants will take over the world and eat your face...unless we save the pangolin

    ants will take over the world and eat your face…unless we save the pangolin

    1) WHY SHOULD I CARE? WHICH PANGOLINS EVER WROTE GREAT LITERATURE OR HELPED OLD PEOPLE ACROSS THE ROAD?

    Cuteness aside  pangolins are a vital part of the ecosystem. Kill them and the ants take over the world. Well, to be fair, we dont’ quite know but pangos do eat A LOT of ants and termites.

    But actually – forget that. Let’s be honest. As much as it matters, I don’t care about ants making lots of babies in the jungle and nor do you. If you were as eco-aware as that you’d sleep in a hemp bag and never read this blog because after all, electricity kills. Nevertheless the ants COULD get you.

    Well …how about this. A 70-million-year-old really cool species will go extinct, maybe in a decade or two.

    Actually – forget that too.

    Terribly controversial but I’ve never been as worried about extinction of a species as extinction of an individual. Shoot me now. Its not the idea of Pango as a taxonomic unit in a reference book with a latinate description that worries me as much as the thousands/millions of creatures that are utterly defenceless being killed in the most cruel way possible

    Pain is what hurts. Pain is what matters.

     

    I suffer

    Lucky again…

     

    2) OK, IF WELFARE IS THE ISSUE, HOW BAD IS THE SITUATION?

    Every day tens or even hundreds of pangolins are thought to be smuggled across the borders of Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and China. Exact numbers are not known but we can make a good guess: SHIT LOADS.

    Conservative estimates assume that seizures represent 10% of the total haul. And in 2011 a single seizure of a boat caught 17tonnes of the meat. The zeros in the death toll are too big to fit in my brain. The senseless slow deaths are are horrifying as they are totally SILENT.

    'Lucky' occasionally gets pissed off and sulks in this corner, clinging to the fence. ..but not for long

    ‘Lucky’ occasionally gets pissed off and sulks in this corner, clinging to the fence. ..but not for long

     

    3) BUT YES, HAVE PANGOLINS EVER WRITTEN GREAT LITERATURE OR MUSIC? WHY SHOULD I CARE??

    Actually, yes.Listen to Life’s a Ball and Roll with me (by Adam and the Ants) or try reading…er…that really amazing book with a pangolin pun in the title that I’ve forgotten but is great.

    Lucky takes a while to wake up in the morning (which is his evening) but he gets there in the end...

    Lucky takes a while to wake up in the morning (which is his evening) but he gets there in the end…

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    4)  ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT…SO EXACTLY HOW ARE PANGOLINS CAUGHT?

    These are the nets they now use to catch which are considered more ‘humane’ (ie. the pangos die eating their own shit rather than being shot or hung with razor wire). This is not because the traders care about pangolins but because living pangos are worth more.

    They then inject them with water – or if they are lucky, excuse the pun – with rice starch to make them weigh more to sell on the market for profit.Pangolins often die of stomach ulcers caused by stress or the wrong food.

    I repeat – no pangolin has ever bitten anyone. No pangolin ever fought back or swore at anyone. They are innocent.

    The wonderful Phoung of the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (CPCP) in Cuc phoung national park showing the nets that are used to 'humanely' capture the pangolins for the illegal trade

    The wonderful Phoung of the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (CPCP) in Cuc phoung national park showing the nets that are used to ‘humanely’ capture the pangolins for the illegal trade

     

    Fattening up pangolins by holding them down and force feeding rice starch through a pipe. If the pipe goes down the windpipe they die

    Fattening up pangolins by holding them down and force feeding rice starch through a pipe. If the pipe goes down the windpipe they die. Courtesy of ENV vietnam, see link below for the story behind this image…

     

    read this:

    http://envietnam.org/E_News/Daily_News/Fattening_up_pangolins_to_earn_billions_of_VND.html

     

    5) WHY AREN’T THE VIETNAMESE DOING ANYTHING?

    They are.

    A fair bit. But its not making enough of a difference.  There are a huge number of protected parks and there are laws and there are great organisations like the rescue centre I visited (CPCP) or ENV (click here). The problem is that a) the wildlife trade is getting rampant because winnings are high and punishment is low b) the country is somewhat corrupt and politically sticky. We need global support for the current vietnamese efforts (as well as other countries)

    For example, when pangos are confiscated at the border a loophole in the law allows guards to sell them on for ‘sicentific benefit’, which ends up meaning to restaurants or back into the trade. Pangolins are saved and then sold back to the enemy. We hope for this loop hole to close very soon but it could take years.

    When we visit Lucky at night he hears us coming and sticks his snout through the door.

    When we visit Lucky at night he hears us coming and sticks his snout through the door.

    blog3-16

    6) WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT PREACHER MARTIN?

    Look, I know, I know. I feel like a chanting girl at a murder scene waving fluffy things around while crimes are being committed. And if you touch a pangolin it pretty much dies so what hope do I have? Elope with Lucky to a remote island and live off ants?  I’m trying damn hard: I’m going to try to get into the poaching areas or to the smuggling routes to at least witness the trade, but as one of you reminded me, this is a huge international criminal affair that doesn’t offer tourist sightseeing trips. And I’m not vietnamese – I’m 6’4″

     

    Food is stuffed and hidden in bamboo to make the pango work a little...

    Food is stuffed and hidden in bamboo to make the pango work a little…

    or put high up in containers covered with heavy stone...

    or put high up in containers covered with heavy stone…

    ...or stuffed away...

    …or stuffed away…

    7) IS ANYONE THAT IS MORE TALENTED AND POWERFUL THAN YOU, MARTIN, DOING ANYTHING USEFUL?

    For the first time ever, there is a world conference on pangolins happening RIGHT NOW (I think it actually finished today) . 50 of the top pangolin experts are rolling into Singapore to scale up their conservation efforts. The strange thing is WE STILL DON’T MUCH ABOUT THESE CREATURES so don’t think it’s all under control. It isn’t. But its a wonderful start. Dan Challender, Chris Shepherd et all – go protect!!

    http://www.pangolinsg.org/news/

     

     

    8) WHAT CAN I, THE BLOG READER,  DO TO HELP? 

    Strange as it sounds start by

    1)simple caring. Engage your head and heart. It does matter.

    2) Then tell others about it. Pass on this blog, read more about them

    3) Finally stop eating that pangolin burger and curing your baldness by balancing pangolin scales on your head. IT WON’T WORK. Go and pray to the moon – that will.

    4) If you visit LAOS, VIETNAM, MALAYSIA, CHINA, CAMBODIA be aware that you are in pango territory. You might want to read up about them, visit some conservation centres or make your feelings known to other travellers.

    5) donate  money to the very small and  frugal pangolin research centre that I stayed in (CPCP) who don’t yet have a web site and are not government supported. $1 cares for Lucky or any other pangolin for a whole day.  Send money to myself marked PANGOLIN and I will pass it on. Like their facebook site here

    6) Or support any of these with pangolin conservation programmes

     

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  • DAY 274: MEET ‘LUCKY’ THE PANGOLIN

    Jun 27 2013

    Meet ‘Lucky’.

    So called because he is one of the very  few pangolins to survive the illegal trade . 

    I feel fortunate too  – most pangolins are  shy, nocturnal and roll into a ball (and then die) when near humans. But this one has been in the rescue centre a while and seems to actively want to hang out with me. 

    It’s an odd experience to hold a creature that is so rare and little-understood.

    Its scales are tough but underneath is a sort of golden dust that can be blown away in a single breath. Most pangolins perish within days, if not hours of capture .Even when they are confiscated and trasferred to a rescue centre most pass away.Their special diet of termites and their unique behavioural patterns and habitat are hard to replicate.

     

    What do I have to do to persuade you I'm cute??

    What do I have to do to persuade you I’m cute?? ‘Lucky’ poses for the camera. Most pangolins are far too shy to be photographed like this…

    And up....and...

    Lucky shows of his skills. And up….and…

    ...made it..

    …made it..

    A blessing or curse?

    This vulnerability is both a blessing and a curse.

    A blessing because pangolins have thwarted all attempts to be farmed  – thus avoiding the persucution that has befallen some bears in the bile farms of china. A curse because science has some way to understanding their role in the ecosystem and knowing how to keep the few that are in captivity alive. As is the case with the tiger, rare animals in captivity are an insurance against extinction : they can be re-introduced later.

    Not the pangolin. Once the last is eaten, the Chinese businessman will put down his chopsticks, shake on the business deal and the pangolin ghost will float to heaven . Only in Tapei zoo are there reports of a pangolin giving birth to a baby that survives… but its a rarity beyond belief.

     

    A view up from the rather beautiful yet terrifying (at night) jungle walk to the centre.

    A view up from the rather beautiful yet terrifying (at night) jungle walk to the centre.

    CPCP

    At the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme (CPCP) here in Vietnam they’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to look after their pangolins. They have less than a dozen here (which is a lot) but they take up a vast area and a lot of resources just to keep them going. Those that do well they attempt to reintroduce to the wild (in a secure park area) but its tentative stuff.

    I am staying ten minutes walk away in the park hotel, a short walk through the forest. Since most pangos wake at night I walk at darkness in my shorts, terrified , luminous white jello. Every stick I see is a snake, every frog at least ten times its size.

    Each pangolin has a large enclosure to itself with its own burrows, feeding stations, trees, sleeping hollow. Everyday they are given tasks to get their food – known in the conservation world as ‘enrichment’.  Food is hidden in bamboo shoots, or under heavy stones or in new locations. Any animal in an enclosed environment will mentally and emotionally atrophy without new stimulation.

    The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program has huge enclosures in which to keep pangolins

    The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program has huge enclosures in which to keep pangolins

    When the pangos wake up (randomly in the night) I get into the cage and take crap pictures with my torch. I’m not allowed to use a flash – whcih is handy because I forgot it. Being a professional photographer.

    Take a careful look at ‘lucky’. He is the lottery winner that didn’t expect the winning ticket. All the other pangolins won a free dinner… in a chinese restaurant.

     

    Kind of undignified but if I have to pose like this to make people remember me so be it...

    Kind of undignified but if I have to pose like this to make people remember me so be it…

    Don't turn your back on me...the pangolins need you

    Don’t turn your back on me…the pangolins need you

     

     

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  • DAY 232: FINAL DAY IN INDIA…NOW HEADING BACK TO HELP THE BADGERS

    May 20 2013
    The wild tokay gecko that was being fattened up for sale on the illegal market that I managed to release into the wild.

    The wild tokay gecko that was being fattened up for sale on the illegal market that I managed to release into the wild.

    Damn.

     

    There’s so much I can’t tell you. 

    I can’t tell you about my trip to the far corner of India, I can’t tell you about trying to smuggle myself illegally over the border into Myanmar, I can’t tell you about the stolen bear that I found, I can’t tell you about the very rare gecko that I released into the deep forest (an endangered specimen no less) and I can’t tell you about getting apprehended by separatists….

    I like to think I’m a wanted international agent…but the truth is that I’ve turned over the location of a trapped wild animal to the authorities who need to carry out a suprise raid. Until that goes ahead nothing can be leaked.

    Needless to say you assume I’m making it up. Which of course I may be. But I have the mascara to prove it.  And furthermore I have a very special watch that I used to get secret photos.

    The watch with hidden camera and the button-camera that was used to uncover the trapped animal...that I can't talk about

    The watch with hidden camera and the button-camera that was used to uncover the trapped animal…that I can’t talk about

    The wonderful family I stayed with in Manipur near the border of Myanmar (Burma) that I can't tell you about.

    The wonderful family I stayed with in Manipur near the border of Myanmar (Burma) that I can’t tell you about.

    JUST IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED, INSTRUCTIONS FOR AN INDIAN SECRET CAMERA WATCH:

    ” This product is simple, small and exquisite, beautiful and practical, is home security, education, essential areas of life, utility, well all the customers.

    Enter the default camera, sound recording standby mode, after the boot of any state. Save the file and shutdown :long earthquake the machine twice 

    Changing the date: According to the computer configuration or system differences, identify the time of disk is slightly different, please be patient…best not to Jinxing the camera.”

    The endangered wild tokay Gecko.

    The endangered wild tokay Gecko.

    The road to the border where we got apprehended

    The road to the border where we got apprehended

     

    My taxi driver wants my monkey fruit in the correct order.

    For the last few days I’ve been driving around India with a Sikh taxi driver who has been extremely kind and extremely enthusiatic about being a Sikh. Everyday he tells me about his turban and Sikh traditions , which is very interesting. In return I have been telling him about saving animals which he finds equally interesting. Turban – monkey – beard – dog. Rather weirdly he’s also been telling me about his favourite fruit and putting them in order of preference…and quite often getting it wrong

    ‘Mango is number one fruit!’ he calls out whilst swerving through traffic. Then a few moments later:  ‘No – mistake.  Kiwi is number one!’ I wonder how one can get one’s favourite fruit wrong.

    Finally after three days of driving he asked me if I actually liked monkeys.

    ‘Of course I do. Very much’

    ‘Which is number one? Monkey or dog?’

    ‘They are both number one’

    ‘Will you take some home? Monkeys?’

    ‘It might be hard’

    ‘Just go to parliament. They have many monkeys there’ I laughed at his sly political joke. He didn’t smile.  ‘No really, they will give you eight monkeys. You take them home because no one wants them here’

    ‘But I can’t take them on the plane just like that.’

    ‘You can get money by making them dance. People want photos’

    Oh no, I thought. There’s clearly so much work to do out there. Even this lovely man wants me to make monkeys dance.

    But then he said something else: ‘We love monkeys. They are one of our gods’

    And then I realised: nowhere is man’s kaleidoscopic view of animals more colourful – and confusing – than it is in India. They swerve to avoid cattle in the street and then  happily leave a dog dying in the dust. Hinduism, one of the most prevalent religions in India, is rich with its array of animal gods that demand worship and yet on an everyday level there is so much animal suffering ignored on the street.

    Wildlife SOS are doing great work tackling these complex but vital issues in this wild and colourful land – and at the helm is a charasmatic, unpredictable, energetic and surprising invidual in Kartic.

    Support him and the team here. If and when this animal is released I can fill you in on some more adventures.

     

    Back home to save badgers

    I am returning to the UK to work on the crucial issue of the upcoming badger cull – proposed to start JUNE the 1st.  More info to follow

     

    NEXT BLOG: I DRESS UP AS A BADGER AND DIE ON THE LONDON UNDERGROUND IN PROTEST.

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  • DAY 223: MANGO UPDATE – FROM LONELY BACKSTREET TO INTERNATIONAL STARDOM

    May 11 2013
    Mango is due to come to the UK in a few months once she has done her course of antibiotics

    Mango is due to come to the UK in a few months once she has done her course of antibiotics

    Mango is now officially British – she has appeared in the Daily Mail Online.

    She’ll soon be eating fish and chips, hailing black cabs and complaining about the weather.

    Read here:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2322974/Blog-campaign-saved-puppy-Phillipines-dog-meat-markets-Now-needs-loving-home-UK.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    TO DONATE MUCH NEEDED FUNDS TO THIS YEAR-LONG PROJECT CLICK HERE

    PLEASE NOTE:

    You can still buy prints of Mango hereHOWEVER,  because we now have enough money to transport her back to the UK and because the Year To Help funds are DISASTROUSLY overdrawn the money will go to funding the project and helping more animals.

    (incidentally, if anyone out there knows how on EARTH I can raise more money to keep this project alive till the end of the 365 days please send a message to martin@yeartohelp.com. I’m so over budget I might tip Britain into a quadruple dip recession. I need the advice and a chat with a fundraiser or sponsorship type person. I’m rubbish at it. thank you. )

    Well done Wigan Athletic fans! Mango 1... Man City 0

    Well done Wigan Athletic !

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