I enjoy eating meat. Where possible, I greatly enjoy ribs. I have regular twinges about eating meat, both because of its environmental impact and because it requires killing animals – I am not on the verge of ceasing to eat meat, but my family and I have been trying to reduce the carbon footprint of our diet.
So what did I think?
I was impressed. While I could just about tell that it was not meat, I am not sure it would have been as obvious in a blind taste test.
The Sierra de Culebra is a hunting reserve on the North East corner of Portugal, and across the border in Spain.
This hunting reserve was essential in saving the Iberian wolf when it was at its smallest 70 years ago (or so).
Currently roughly 10 packs live within the reserves boundaries – so around 80 wolves. Given that the reserve only covers 80-100 square miles, this is easily the highest density of wolves in the world.
While it is thought that the adults will have mostly survived, this years young are likely to have been too small and weak.
Thankfully, the wolf in Spain is now doing quite well. The Iberian peninsula is thought to contain about 2500 wolves, as such the loss of the Sierra de Culebra is not likely to threaten their further survival.
Speaking from experience, I hope that this reserve recovers as it is a special place.
There has been an update. The first batch of cheetah will be moved to Kuno reserve, in August, 5-6 Cheetah will be moved to Kuno reserve in the first batch.
Kuno reserve was supposed to be the place that Asiatic lions were due to be moved to before Gujarat claimed exclusive ownership – and therefore refused to translocate the lions. The fact that cheetah are being introduced to Kuno should not rule out lions following, though Gujurat is still behaving badly on this front.
What should we make of this? Well in theory, Iranian cheetah would be far better. Unfortunately the cheetah is doing so badly, that it would be impossible to translocate cheetah to India, without risking eliminating the cheetah in Iran. African cheetah are very similar, and I would argue that a similar animal is better than none filling this ecological niche.
There is a scheme which gives companies ratings based on their environmental, social and governance positions in order to allow investors to know that they are investing in companies that are thinking about the future.
This is good! Of course we should know.
However, this has (intentionally or not) been set up to fail on its own. It seems that the rating does not look at whether a company emits small amounts of carbon, or makes low carbon products but on the Dollar value of the risk/return.
Tesla’s ESG score is 28.5, giving it a ranking of 41 out of 85 USA car companies or 8,192 out of 14,666 in the world.
The companies below are all oil companies with lower esg scores are as follows:
Royal Dutch Shell ESG Score: 35.1 with a high exposure risk and strong management rating.
TotalEnergies SE ESG Score: 29.2 with a medium exposure risk and strong management.
Repsol SA ESG Score: 26.7 with a medium risk and strong management.
Equinor ASA ESG Score: 32.0 with a high risk and strong management.
It is entirely possible that the esg score is being misused by companies like this, however what is clear is it is misleading consumers and so must be changed (as whatever the current aim, this score was set up to inform not to mislead).
A quote from Bloomberg business on this scheme stated “the most striking feature of the esg rating system is how rarely a company’s record on climate change seems to get in the way of it climbing up the esg ladder or even to factor at all”.
In the 1990s the bear population of this mountain range consisted of about 50-65 in the western population, and 14-20 in the east. No more than 30 years later, that population numbers 300-400 (as much as a 6 fold increase).
How did they do this, and can the success be replicated. It is thought that just two stems were responsible for their recovery.
Firstly, efforts to protect the environment have been successful. With a healthier ecosystem, the country is more capable of sustaining a bear population.
Secondly, education of both locals and visiting tourists has lead to a greater acceptance of the bears. Furthermore, with the success of tourism, locals increasingly seeing the bears as an asset rather than a threat.
These bears are almost entirely vegetarian, and while efficient hunters whatever meat the consume, here it is usually carrion – animals that have naturally died, or been killed by other animals.
As a result, the bears are far less of a threat than wolves (though even wolves can cause little threat if farming is set up correctly). Bee keepers are threatened to a greater degree by the bears, however by returning to ancient bee keeping habits, this can be reduced to a minimum.
Back in the 1950s there is thought to have been as many as 1000 bears in the wilds of Spain, so the population still has some recovery to go through.
Never-the-less this is a good news story that is extremely encouraging that large carnivores and omnivores are still capable of surviving in the modern landscape of a western European country.
This is well worth a visit. A link will hopefully be added to this page in the next week or so
When you go on safari, as with other places there are animals that while fascinating you can be almost certain you will not see.
I am not talking about Black leopards, or white lions – rare genetic mutations which are therefore not always present, and when they are, there might be one or two in the whole of an ecosystem. In recent times, when a black leopard was sighted, a British photographer flew out specifically to stake out the area it was in to get his shot. He did succeed, but spent a whole trip getting the picture (Will Burrard Lucas) flew to the part of Kenya where it had been sighted, and put up camera traps which caught the creature). These are almost impossible to see, as they tend to occur very rarely. The white Lions of Timbivati are very good for this private reserve as it is almost impossible to see wild white lions anywhere else.
No, the animals that are rarely seen (and perhaps for most would not feature on a list of 100 animals they would like to see) tend to be nocturnal. I am talking of animals like the Aardvark and the pangolin. Often these species are also extremely fussy eaters, which means that not only are they incredibly hard to see in the wild, but they are incredibly hard to keep alive in captivity – increasingly zoos are starting to get these fascinating animals, as the unfounded belief that pangolin scales can treat a variety of conditions has pushed all species nearer to extinction (so it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a captive population to back up the wild one).
In the UK, the only place that you can see an Aardvark is in Colchester zoo, where they have a group of them. Knowing this, Colchester zoo is one of those that I will visit as often as I get the chance, and spend a significant amount of time by the Aardvark burrow hoping to see them awake.
Our visit last week was incredibly lucky, as the Aardvarks had to be weighed, so they all had to wake up and be moved around. I hope to put together a video after the summer, with pictures of Aardvark burrows in the wild, and the animal in captivity. If I am very lucky, I will be able to add in some wild Aardvark pictures but this is very unlikely.
We have 2 trips planned in the next few months. Later this week, I am travelling to Spain in the hope of seeing bears and wolves, and over August, my family are travelling to Kruger national park. Our aim is to film many videos during these trips, and be able to add greatly to what is listed on the channel.
Impacts on the worlds ecosystems from this many animals disappearing could have disastrous effects. The loss of this many reptiles could cause knock-on effects such as huge increase in the number of insects. As much as 30% of forest dwelling reptiles are threatened by extinction, due to their homes being cut down.
Hunting is also adding an unhelpful pressure, as many reptile species have skins that can be made into items for human consumption.
In some countries such as the UK, it is usually looked down on so much, that you rarely see reptile skins (we have other problems) but elsewhere this is not the same. Reptiles are also very important seed dispersers
For anyone who has thought about it, the way that limiting temperature rise has been discussed has been ridiculous. Up till now, hitting 1.9 degrees average warming would be a success, allowing 2.0 would be complete failure.
We need instead to recognize that for any reduction in average global temperatures that we are able to achieve, there is a significant reward.
The work is not done, until the human race is no longer adding pollution to the atmosphere.
We need as a human race, to be replanting vast areas of the planet. We need to be cutting our emissions as fast as possible, and we need to be looking for ways to capture and lock away as much carbon as we can.