Tag Archives: animals

How do you measure time?

28 Oct

There’s an inflection on the ‘you’ in that question. Is it by the watch on your wrist, your smartphone or a computerclock? Imagine if you would mark your local time by

“the movement of toads and the fluttering of moths, by the scent of oranges and coconut, by bear births, eagle marriages, and salmon deaths”.

That is a breathtaking sensual assault; distilled from the writings of Jay Griffiths on her experiences among peoples native to perhaps wilder and remoter regions of our world – and – described by Lewis H. Lapham in his article Captain Clock in Lapham’s Quarterly current issue TIME (Vol. 7, Nr. 4, fall 2014).


Blue Morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides) Image credit: Ricardo Jimenez


caterpillar of the Blue Morpho – Image credit: Ingmar Gerckens


caterpillar of the Atlas moth – Image credit: John Horstmann


Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) – Image credit: Andrew Cooper

 More fabulous butterflies and moths pre- and post-pupate here

Maybe also take a meander by The Dark Mountain Project here and read the 8 Principles of Uncivilisation here.


Nudging towards sustainable palm oil

15 Jul

Nutella has it, so do many, many biscuits, snacks, breads, cakes, confectionery fillings, ice cream, processed cheeses, and more. And that’s just the food applications of palm oil. It’s also a typical ingredient in the production of soaps, detergents, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and more. The Big Ecological Issue is the grand scale of the plantations necessary to produce all this palm oil for global consumption and the concomitant destruction of wild habitats. You can read up more in dossiers and campaigns run by the major NGOs such as WWF, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and also the Orangutan Project and on the Say No To Palm Oil site.


Publicity and pressure around this issue have given rise to a roundtable on more responsible palm oil production, the RSPO, though the issue stays highly controversial. There is now a small supply of alternatively produced palm oil, which is used, for example, by the manufacturer of the soap we are presenting in today’s entry: Sustain. Whereas yesterday’s soap showed you melting glaciers and icebergs, today’s soap shows and tells you about the critically endangered animals you help save by using it – clean hands + cleaner conscience?sustain-06_klein05_01_11_sustain6_klein

Sustain is a soap made with 100% sustainable palm oil. Simon and the Treasure Studio in Harrogate, UK, developed three characters based on redlisted animals (Bornean orangutan, Malayan Tiger, Papuan Monitor Lizard). Copywriter Chris Miller created some lovely copy that gave each animal real personality and also highlighted their plight. More beautiful soaps in more beautiful packaging here.

A new perspective on what luxury is

26 Mar

“Good food is no luxury for us, quite the contrary, bad food and then even paying for it, that is luxury!”

Free translation of something said by Imanol Jaca, Txogitxu, San Sebastian, Spain

Plucked from the article “Die fette alte Kuh und ihr Liebhaber” by Vijay Sapre (text) & Andrea Thode (photos) in Effilee, no. 24, Spring 2013

Der Mann hat Perspektive

26 Mar

“Gutes Essen ist für uns kein Luxus, im Gegenteil, schlecht essen und dann auch noch dafür zahlen, das ist Luxus!”

Imanol Jaca, Txogitxo, San Sebastian, Spanien

Aus dem Beitrag “Die fette alte Kuh und ihr Liebhaber” von Vijay Sapre (Text) & Andrea Thode (Fotos), Effilee, #24 Frühling 2013

Does a pig have the right to play?

28 Nov

Last Friday we took the second half of our B.Sc. students (Course: Nutrition Ecology) on an excursion to a local commercial pig farm with about 2.000 swine. The course is built around a value chain approach to the food system and thus includes a ‘chapter’ on food production where we look at typical and alternative production forms. The piggies we saw had an outside stall area in addition to the inside stall. The outside stall had  playthings: a chain with a piece of wood on which the piggies can chew, which they like to do.project-buta-tot-zo-ver_001-540x405_klein

That pigs like to play is not new. Thus you can find many shops with hog toys such as this one. As a matter of fact there is a Dutch research project on this: Playing with Pigs. The project is an outcome of research on “Ethical room for manoeuvre in livestock farming”, a collaboration between the Utrecht School of the Arts, Wageningen University and Wageningen UR Livestock Research. Within the project, a game which allows interaction between pigs and people was developed; see it in a clip on vimeo here. The researchers say one of the things they’ve discovered is how much pigs like to play with light.

playingwithpigs_kleinNot just pigs like to play. Many animals have been observed, photographed and filmed at play – within their own and across species borders. I still have an old National Geographic edition with the title story Animals at Play.

23594676[1]One of the animals-at-play featured was a crow that was photographed lying on its back and sliding down a snow-covered incline, only to get up and repeat the process. This has been filmed and featured again and again, and many other stories too, such as here as well as this whole entry on tail-pulling by mischievous crows on Jenn(ifer Campbell-Smith)’s lovely Corvid blog here.


Head-to-Tail: Sustainability in Restaurant Concepts

16 Jun

Here’s a restaurant concept for a transitioned society: Djuret serves one animal at the time. Literally. If you come in August/September you get Cow. If you come in September/October you get Deer & Duck. If you come in October/November you get Elk & Boar, November/December you get Deer & Hare and finally in December: Pig.


The Stockholm-based restaurant considers this to be the most sustainable way to work with a slaughtered animal both from an organic perspective and out of respect to the slaughtered animal. Their menu consists of different meat cuts and more from the same animal. Further pictures here and here, including the deco lamp-cum-meat-grinder. This ‘whole-beast meat restaurant’ is part of a group of restaurants you can read up on here. Previously mentioned head-to-tail concept-restaurants include our entries here and here.

Only in Africa

27 Nov

During the retreat in Worcester we had a visitor: Letaba. Letaba lives at neighbouring Fairy Glen, a Big-5 private game reserve. Big-5 in the Southern African game parks context refers to buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhinoceros.

Letaba either likes the trees near the men’s quarters or he came to meditate. The Fairy Glen people finally managed to herd him back to the reserve.

At night you could hear the lions roar but we saw no other Big-5, though we did see a large tortoise wandering through the facilities, much like the one in the picture that follows.

And a chappie like this one, a Red Grasshopper, buzzed around a lot – what stunning colours!

Of course, everyone who comes to Southern African game reserves wants to see the Big 5, but to give some of the other animals some of the ra-ra, some clever peeps came up with the Little 5: buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhinoceros beetle. And as further proof of incongruous South African humour, there’s a company offering DiveThe5, though their love of sharks prohibits them actually limiting it to 5: Whale sharks, Great Whites, Sand Tigers (affectionately known as Raggies), Zambezi’s, Hammerheads and a couple more. And even DriveTheBig5 – by which I thought they meant Minibus Taxis, Gameview vehicles, Landrovers, Bakkies (pickups) and maybe a Vespa?

To be fair, our elephant experience might be feasible at some of the Meditation Centres in India; perchance to meet an Indian elephant? But back to our Only-in-Africa note: Our friends Maryatta and Kai, having emigrated from Dortmund, Germany, to live in Zeekoevlei, Cape Town, were recently enthralled by a leaflet in their post box extolling appropriate behaviour for encountering hippos. Living on a vlei (a low-lying, marshy area, a wetland) and next door to nature reserves such as Rondevlei (see a good aerial shot here) does make for sharing the habitat with hippopotamuses and necessitates educating the public on good neighbourliness with them.