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Posts tagged ‘conservation’

Tree Huggers Unite: May 16 Is National LOVE A Tree Day

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. (Czesław Miłosz)

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. (Osho)

Fast! Run out today, May 16, and hug your nearest tree! Today is National Love a Tree Day — on this day, trees are celebrated and recognized for their multitude of wonderful gifts. National Love a Tree Day is a relative of Arbor Day, and sits in the middle of Garden for Wildlife Month. Use #LoveATreeDay to post on social media, and discover Five Awesome Ways to Celebrate Love a Tree Day.

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As caretakers of this beautiful sphere, it remains our utmost responsibility to honor, safeguard, and protect these living entities. Upwards of 5,000 years old, they’ve borne witness to the rise and fall of entire civilizations. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Plant a tree…Recycle…Go paperless… Follow those conservation groups diligently working to protect these lovely, ancient living citadels. Or just show them some love and respect, and give them a nice big pat or hugggggg.

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In honor of LOVE A TREE DAY, check out this brief Nat Geo clip of a most amazing man, Payeng — who single-handedly reforested his devastated wasteland of an island, which is now (thanks to him), home to thriving native wildlife. Awe-inspiring and endless gratitude can’t convey enough.


With as many horrific stories of needless and careless deforestation as there are today, such stories do exist… There are so many wonderful people and groups helping to sustain the planet’s flora ecosystems. Trees are not something we can live without as a species, after all.

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Everyone loves trees!

Everyone loves trees!

A Day to Celebrate the Amazing FROG

Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better everyday. And you will come to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I recently posted lots of amazing facts about our wonderful but endangered FROGS (See “Protecting the Prince”), but… April 25 is Save the Frogs DAY.

A Green frog enjoys the pond at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

A Green frog enjoys the pond at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Frogs are amphibians, a word which comes from the Greek meaning “both lives” — they live in the worlds of water and land. Frogs continue to be seen as an indicator species, providing scientists with valuable insight into how an ecosystem is functioning. Because they are both predators and prey, many animals are affected by them — giving further insight into the health of an ecosystem. There are over 6,000 species of frogs worldwide, and scientists continue to search for new ones….

A bright and lovely cricket frog in the Everglades

A bright and lovely cricket frog in the Everglades

Unfortunately, about 120 amphibian species, including frogs, toads and salamanders, have disappeared since 1980. Historically, one species of amphibian would disappear every 250 years — a powerful case for conserving and nurturing their (and our) environments. Our adorable Southern green tree frogs took up residence in unused  birdhouses, and I happily accommodated them by adding more shelters (and of course, never using pesticides) — anything to help their dwindling populations. There’s so much we can do to help these amazing creatures — limit pesticide use (ban it!), and provide safe spaces for them to live and thrive.

A tiny barking tree frog in Jonathan Dickinson State Park

A tiny barking tree frog in Jonathan Dickinson State Park

A wonderful vintage Larkin Advertising Card, featuring Mr. Frog

A wonderful vintage Larkin Advertising Card, featuring Mr. Frog

Frogs have fascinated humans for millennia, and are ancient symbols and totems of transformation. From the wonderful Ted Andrews and his iconic ANIMAL-SPEAK:

Moonlight Bouquets, by the incomparable Margaret Clark

Moonlight Bouquets, by the incomparable Margaret Clark

The frog is our most recognizable amphibian…. Frogs have an ancient mythology about them. Being amphibians with links to the water and the land, they are often associated with the magic of both elements. This also links them to the lore of fairies and elves. Many shamanic societies — especially North and South American — link the frog with rain and control of the weather. Its voice is said to call forth the rains.

Because of its connection to water, it is also linked to lunar energies (the moon moves the tides of waters upon the planet) and those goddesses associated with the moon. The frog was an animal attributed to the Egyptian goddess Herit, who assisted Isis in her ritual for resurrecting Osiris.

Upper section of totem pole featuring the Killer Whale and Frog — Courtesy Museum Victoria, Australia

Upper section of totem pole featuring the Killer Whale and Frog — Courtesy Museum Victoria, Australia

Frogs have been known to be heralds of abundance and fertility, especially since in their polliwog stage they resemble the male spermatozoa. This is also due to the fact that after rains, a greater number of frogs come up to dry land and feed on insects and worms who have come out of the rain-soaked land. It is also associated with fertility, for rain makes things grow.

Even as adults, frogs remain semi-aquatic. They live in damp areas. They need water and all that is associated with it symbolically or otherwise/ If frog has hopped into your life, you may need to get in touch with the water element. It may reflect that there are new rains coming or that you need to call some new rains forth. Maybe the old waters are becoming dirty and stagnant. Frog can teach you how to clean them up.

Emotions are often associated with water. Individuals with frog totems are very sensitive to the emotional stats of others, and seem to know instinctively how to act and what to say. They know how to be sincerely sympathetic.

Detail of a frog symbol on a totem pole at the Vancouver Airport, B.C. (Credit: MCArnott)

Detail of a frog symbol on a totem pole at the Vancouver Airport, B.C. (Credit: MCArnott)

Frog holds the knowledge of weather and how to control it. Frog medicine can bring rains for every purpose — to cleanse, to heal, to help things grow, to flood, to stir. Its energies can be used to bring light showers or downpours for most any purpose….

The frog is a totem of metamorphosis. It is a symbol of coming into one’s own creative power. It changes from an egg, to a polliwog, to a frog. Even after it becomes a frog, it lives close to and spends much time in the water. It always has contact with the creative force out of which it came. Usually frog people have strong ties to their own mothers.

This connection to water should also serve as a reminder to those with this totem. Are you becoming too mundane? Are you becoming mired in the mud of your day-to-day life? Are you needing to dive into some fresh creative water? Are those around you? Are you feeling waterlogged, becoming too bogged down, or drowning in emotions?

A frog blends with duckweed in the FLA wetlands

A frog blends with duckweed in the FLA wetlands

Frogs are tuned keenly to sound. Over each ear canal is a round membrane, a tympanic organ — which enables them to recognize and respond to certain sounds and their locations. Science has known for a long time that water is one of the bet conductors of sound. This sensitivity to sound should be developed by frog people. Their taste in music will probably not run mainstream, but they can learn to use their voice to stir the emotions and to call for the rains or change the climatic conditions of their own lives.

For more info:

Save the Frogs!

Save the Frogs!

An Earth Day Note of Gratitude

Since I’ve had my little blog, I’ve been blessed with requests from biologists, scientists, park rangers, national wildlife organizations, and artists to use my photos — my tiny glimpses into the continually threatened natural Florida. I always learn so much from them all, and am incredibly grateful to have met them.

In honor of Earth Day, I want to give an enormous THANKS to all of those who work so incredibly hard, often in dubious and/or dangerous situations, for our beautiful blue sphere — the hands-on scientists and rangers working directly with the wildlife and lands, caring for the welfare of so many threatened and endangered critters and ecosystems. An equal shout of gratitude to the writers, artists, and outspoken voices of our wonderful world!

Most recently, I met Everglades biologist John Kellam, and he kindly shared his amazing research on the endangered Florida panther. To say that this is a special and rare glimpse into the lives of these magnificent and elusive animals is an understatement! I hope you enjoy John’s images and descriptive text as much as I did — and another thanks to him for sharing his work for, and obvious love of, these endangered creatures.

From John: I am a biologist; Since 2006, I have been a member of the National Park Service Florida panther capture, research, and monitoring team, and the lead biologist of the first successful home range and habitat use study of the Big Cypress fox squirrel (a Florida State listed Threatened species) in natural habitats (

Florida Panther Kitten  (Copyright  John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

More from John: The kitten in the photos is 1 of 3 kittens located in female Florida panther #162’s den on August 15, 2014 in the interior of Big Cypress National Preserve.

Florida Panther Kitten,  Copyright  John Kellam, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

When a female panther is denning and her kittens are @ 14 days old (based on radio-telemetry data), we wait until she leaves the den (typically to go hunting), then we locate the den and process the kitten away from the den site. Our medical work-up of kittens involves collecting biopsy, hair, and ectoparasite samples, inserting subcutaneous microchips (PIT-tags), obtaining body mass/measurement data, and administering oral medications. Once we have processed the kittens, we place them back in the den.

When kittens are handled at dens, we gain valuable reproduction information on litter size, gender, weight, genetics, and overall health of kittens. In addition, kittens with microchips provide us information on movements and survival if handled again as an adult.

Florida Panther Kittens at Den (Copyright  John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kittens at Den (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Here’s much love and good wishes to a promising future for these amazing animals — Happy Earth Day!

Saving Florida’s Black Bears

A pine cut down, a dead pine, is no more a pine than a dead human carcass is a man. Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine-trees, and he who understand it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it. -Henry David Thoreau

Animals don’t make me cry. What humans do to animals does. -AD Williams

In just a few days, on April 15, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) holds a hearing to consider a proposal allowing the trophy hunting of Florida black bears — a species that is unique to Florida and has been protected for two decades. Under the proposal, trophy hunters could kill up to 275 bears each year. The FWC claims that due to a recent increase in bear attacks, they have no other choice but to kill the bears for public safety. Recent incidents involving human-bear conflict were in areas where the bears were drawn to unsecured garbage, and humans illegally feeding bears. Many admit that hunting would not reduce the number of bear incidents in suburban neighborhoods. Allowing hunters to destroy these animals not only fails to resolve human-bear conflicts (for which the agency already has management systems in place), but will place an entire species at risk. Rather than trophy hunt this delicate species, the FWC should proactively work on helping and educating the public to avoid such conflicts with this typically shy and gentle animal.

Florida bear hunting ended relatively recently, when the population fell to barely 500 bears — they were on the brink of extinction. It was the FWC that petitioned the federal government for help in protecting them. Bears were removed from the threatened species list in 2012, but the species is very fragile, and is still recovering amidst difficult (to put it mildly) scenarios. Florida’s bears live in small areas, fragmented by the state’s rampant overdevelopment, and face serious threats — including severe habitat loss, genetic isolation, and road mortality.


Florida Black Bear


The Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) is a subspecies of the American black bear that ranges throughout most of Florida and southern portions of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. They live mainly in forested areas and have seen radical habitat reduction throughout the state. Florida black bears are mainly solitary, except during mating season. Although they are solitary mammals, Florida black bears are not considered to be territorial, and typically do not defend their range from other bears. Read more about the species here.

Before Florida was settled by Europeans, Florida black bears occupied all of the Florida mainland, into the Keys, and had a population near 12,000. Today, overdevelopment in the state has pushed them into isolated groups living mainly in protected areas, including Ocala National Forest, Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, Apalachicola National Forest, Osceola National Forest, and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. 

To get an idea of what these wonderful creatures — as well as so many others — suffer due to habitat loss in Florida: Nearly 20 acres (81,000 m2) of wildlife habitat are lost to new development every hour in Florida. And this report dates to 2010! These same bears are further at high risk for being injured or killed by motorists. Since 1994, 89.5% of bear deaths have been attributed to such crashes.  (Defenders of Wildlife)


Saving the Florida Black Bear


Florida is in desperate need of attention to, and ceasing its cruel ignorance towards, the state’s natural flora and fauna. The fact that these gentle and shy animals, just recently on the brink of extinction, are even under consideration to be slaughtered as part of trophy hunts is beyond appalling. As an avid hiker throughout the state, I’ve yet to encounter one of these beauties. I’ve heard them, known they were behind me smelling the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich in my backpack, but I’ve yet to witness one. I HAVE, however, encountered many a hunter, hunting illegally. (They often think I’m a ranger.)

I truly hope that wisdom and foresight (with a touch of kindness) will rule the state, soon — for the animals’ sake as well as for ours.

Speak up for those with no voice, our magnificent Florida Black Bears — PETITIONS to sign BEFORE April 15!

Preserving our Future: World Wetlands Day 2015

World Wetlands Day PosterA million HELLOS to the blogging community!

And happy early World Wetlands DayIt’s hard not to be passionate about the celebration of such an event, since all of what you see here — the unique landscapes and its wonderful critters — are dependent on wetland ecosystems. Officially February 2, World Wetlands Day is an international celebration of the planet’s marshes, swamps, and bogs. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997, and since then government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and citizens all over the world have aimed to raise public awareness of the critical value and intrinsic benefits of wetland ecosystems.

World Wetlands Day 2015 LogoDespite the growing awareness of this unique ecosystem, there are sobering threats facing the survival of our wetlands:

    • A 2011 federal study estimated the U.S. lost 62,300 acres of wetlands between 2004-2009 — a loss rate 140% higher than from 1998-2004
    • Wetland habitat has now been cut within the contiguous U.S. to 110 million acres…. And those surviving wetlands face dangers like hypoxia due to water pollution and invasive species. Pythons and melaleuca in the Everglades (among a host of other destructive non-native species), and nutria in New Orleans continue to ravage the structure of this ecosystem
    • Wetlands are extremely sensitive, and are counted as one of the most vulnerable ecosystems subject to climate change
    • Wetlands residents have suffered terribly due to increased habitat loss

      Preserving the future of the wetlands of our world: Mother and baby Great Blue Heron in the Florida wetlands

      Preserving the future of the wetlands of our world: Mother and baby Great Blue Heron in the Florida wetlands

From the Ramsar website:


They purify and replenish our water, and provide the fish and rice that feed billions. Wetlands act as a natural sponge against flooding and drought, and protect our coastlines. They burst with biodiversity, and are a vital means of storing carbon. Unfortunately, these benefits are not widely known. Often viewed as wasteland, 64% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1900.

Help us turn the tide on the loss and degradation of our wetlands. Join us for World Wetlands Day 2015 – and beyond! Here’s how you can get involved: #WorldWetlandsDay #WetlandsForOurFuture


There’s much that can be done to restore and protect this vital habitat — check out your local resources, visit your neighboring natural areas, and above else, LOVE YOUR WETLANDS and their amazing inhabitants!

For more information and wonderful educational and marketing materials, visit World Wetlands Day 2015, and on Facebook: RamsarConventionOnWetlands

The lush Florida wetlands — a treasure to conserve

The lush Florida wetlands — a treasure to conserve

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