Safari

“Living day by day with elephants, he had absorbed their deeper, more philosophical cues. In fact, he discovered in them the virtues he would work to develop in himself: courage, loyalty, the ability to trust (and the good sense to know when to be distrustful), fairness, patience, diligence, kindness, and humor.”
–Vicki Constantine Croke, “Elephant Company”

Step this way–
sink deep, uncreatured,
into the
mouth entombed
in death—enter the ceaseless
current of slaughter.

Destruction
overtakes rebirth,
permanent–
we cannot
remake the magic of earth,
uninculcate ends.

Silver tongues
make promises, kill
what little
is left, drunk
with power—bleeding life out
to termination.

Elephants once roamed in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. This species became extinct about 100 BC due to overhunting for ivory. This is still a major threat to both elephants and rhinos, along with habitat loss, which includes all the ramifications of climate change. Poachers are looking for ingredients for traditional Asian medicine. Local residents see wild animals as threats, and/or kill them for food when other sources, such as agriculture, disappear due to extreme weather. And of course Western big game hunters love to take home trophies to prove how manly they are.

The Northern White Rhino recently became extinct.

Endangered African primates include the chimpanzee, the gorilla, the bonobo, and the drill. The cheetah is critically endangered, and lions and leopards are also in a vulnerable state.

Other critically endangered African species include the African penguin, the African wild dog, green turtles, pangolins, and hundreds of species of birds.

For earthweal, where Sherry asks us to consider how humans have changed the African landscape. I’ve used words from the Oracle II list generated by Jane this week.

All the art is from previous posts about endangered species. Interestingly, I only found one other poem written to go along with the images. Perhaps it’s because words are inadequate for me in the face of such a huge loss. It’s easier for me to draw or paint or collage my distress.

Vaquita

vaquita collage left s

Once the net held all.

Land and sea
and all of its inhabitants–
each pulling its threads,
mending and reweaving
until the ripples
returned themselves
to the delicate balance
of ebb and flow.

Ghost nets they call them–
abandoned traps that
strangle and drown.

No species lives in isolation.
Deplete one and all suffer.

Poverty kills more
than just the humans
desperate to survive.

vaquita collage s

The Gulf of California, which separates the Baha Peninsula from the Mexican mainland, has one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, with many endemic species, including the vaquita, small porpoises on the verge of extinction.

Although laws have been passed banning gillnets and the illegal harvesting of totoaba for their swim bladders, and much of the area has been designated as off limits to commercial development, there is little money or will from the Mexican government for enforcement.

The native peoples historically relied on fishing for sustenance.  The impoverishment of their lives by commercial development, overfishing, and sport fishing mean that black market exporters of the swim bladders to China will always find someone willing to risk using banned fishing methods to catch the fish.  When gillnets are used, lost, or abandoned, vaquitas get caught in them and drown.

When I first did an endangered species post on the vaquita, in 2015, there were thought to be 100 individuals left.  Today the estimates range from 30 to less than 10.  It seems unlikely that they will survive.

Laws can only do so much.  Our entire economic system needs to be rethought in ways that allow all members of all species, including our own, to live a dignified and sustainable life.

vaquita collage right s

For earthweal, where Sherry has asked us to “remember the lost ones, and the ones who will soon break our hearts by leaving.

who am/are

finding myself
I open the cages
I travel on paths
where I once was we

I open the cages
calm and unafraid
where I once was we
everything begins again

calm and unafraid
as intersected species
everything begins again
inside and out

as intersected species
abiding in before and after
inside and out
following life’s tides

abiding in before and after
I travel on paths
following life’s tides
finding myself

Sherry posted at earthweal this week about Jane Goodall and how her work with chimpanzees led her to start “Roots and Shoots, her program, now 30 years old, that inspires young people to plant trees and care for the areas in which they live”.

I knew I had posted before about chimpanzees as part of my endangered species series on methodtwomadness. When I went back and looked, I found that I had also talked then about Jane Goodall and her work.

Chimpanzees are our closest genetic relative. Of course we still have plenty of work to do learning to treat other humans with respect. We can start by opening the cage doors.

chimp 1s

My first pantoum of the week–there will be more.

whalesong

blue whale s

whalesong magnetic s

When I saw what the Oracle had given me today, I went looking for an old post I had done on blue whales.  What I wrote six years ago is only more true today.

The blue whale is the world’s largest and heaviest existing animal. Hunted almost to extinction by whalers in the 19th century, it is currently endangered, like many other species, by habitat loss due to pollution and climate change. Toxic chemicals and the warming of the ocean disrupt migration and food sources, sonar disrupts whale communication, and whales also collide with ships and become entangled in fishing gear.

Humans have not been kind to whales.

blue whale eye s

A good, if depressing, compilation of whale and human history can be found in Philip Hoare’s book “The Whale”.  My review on goodreads is here:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/118181104

http://www.whale.org/
http://www.savethewhales.org/

Also linking to earthweal open link weekend.

ancient blue
spirtsong follows
deep moonpath

listen as
secrets breathe between
waterlight

To the Monarch (May 2020)

may grid s

Who will
carry the end
back to the beginning?
who will remember the lost, re
locate
the disappeared?  Who will fill life
with futures, release those
fragile wings to
the skies?

brown monarch s

I decided to do my May grid and a butterfly cinquain for both the NaPoWriMo Day 30 prompt, “something that returns”, and Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday prompt theme, chosen by Elizabeth from Tea and Paper, “the day after”.

When Nina and I first started blogging at memadtwo, one of my recurring themes was endangered species.  I posted twice (here and here) about the Monarch Butterfly, and wrote in one post:

Most people know that monarchs migrate from the United States and Canada to central Mexico to hibernate in winter. This can mean a trip of nearly 3,000 miles!

Between 2012 and 2013 the amount of butterflies who wintered in the Mexican forest decreased by 40%. The forest habitat itself is disappearing as a result of illegal logging. But the extreme weather conditions of the last few years, due to climate change, have also caused lower hatching rates. Another factor is the loss of milkweed plants, the primary food source for monarchs, killed by agricultural herbicides.

may grid close up s

Perhaps the coronavirus will provide these beautiful creatures with some respite from human destruction.

When looking for music about migration I remembered Steve Earle’s song.  Monarchs remind us that borders are only the lines that we ourselves choose to draw.

Thanks to Maureen Thorson and all the participants in NaPoWriMo 2020 for helping me to travel all over the world and creating bridges that reached far beyond the walls and borders of our politics and our forced isolation.

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