Friday, 27 May 2016
Sunday, 22 September 2013
"The Elder Rhinos Need You"
Published in the Namib Times
By Marcia Fargnoli
The sun is setting and you are sitting by a water hole. In the distance you see a puff of air, warm and made visible against the cool night breeze. As you watch, slowly she walks toward you. She stops and gazes out at the scenery, as if she sees something beyond. She walks to the water hole pauses and catches your eye. The majesty of meeting a rhino in the wild is an unforgettable moment.
Rhinos are one of the great elders of the animal kingdom. Ancient bushman rock paintings in Southern Africa depict rhinos, which have always played an important role in the circle of life. They are prehistoric creatures and according to science they have been around for 50 million years. Yet 95% of the world rhino population has been decimated by humans in a short time period. At the beginning of the 19th century, there were one million rhinos in the wild. By 1970, there were around 70,000. Today there are less than 24,500.
Some 100 rhino have been killed this past month in South Africa and more recently 5 dead rhinos have been discovered per day just across our borders there. In June in Namibia a rhino was discovered dead with its horns brutally removed, 6 months after a poached rhino was discovered on Christmas day.
Is this how we treat the elders of our planet? Human beings should be ashamed of themselves.
Even though rhinos are well built for survival, they were not prepared to face an organized gang of humans with an insatiable taste for greed. The driving force behind the horrific killings of this great animal elder is the very thing which was meant to protect them. Their horn has been sought after for rumoured and unproven medicinal benefits in Asia. Historically, using rhino horn is a sign of prestige in several Asian cultures.
Due to the demand for their horn, Namibia lost most of its rhino population in the 1970s and 1980s. Now Namibia hosts one third of the total black rhino population on the planet. How quickly can that amount of rhinos be lost? Current statistics show that it has only taken 2 years for 1,700 rhinos to be decimated in South Africa. It can happen very quickly. Black rhinos are one of the rhino species most under threat and they are classified as critically endangered, meaning that they are at an extremely high risk of going extinct in the wild.
In Namibia there are increasing threats as bordering countries clamp down on security and Asian mining companies encroach onto rhino territories. Yet the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Save the Rhino Trust are prepared for the worst. Recently a letter was featured on Business Day that said “Rhino poaching can be stopped dead in its tracks, and Namibia can show South Africa, Africa and the world how to do this.” So come on Namibia, let’s do this.
We need your help. Please report any suspicious activity regarding rhino or other wildlife by sending a toll free sms to 55555.
Thursday, 19 September 2013
This week the Namibian government has made history by taking a landmark decision on behalf of the environment for current and future generations by banning marine phosphate mining for the next 18 months. Cabinet has sited that we must be cautious and that “such mining cannot happen if there is no certainty on what impact these phosphate mining activities could have on the environment.” This is the first time that the Namibian government has taken a stand such as this by making reference to the Environmental Management Act 2007, section 3(2)(k) which enshrines the precautionary principle in law. Cabinet has set a very clear precedent that the Namibian government takes this provision of law very seriously. We thank them for their vision and wisdom.
The Namibian government has also taken a stand in terms of the Constitution, section 95(l) which states that the government must maintain "…ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future.” The late honourable Chief Justice, Justice Mahomed described the Constitution in a landmark decision stating that the Constitution "...is a mirror reflecting the national soul/the identification of the ideals and aspirations of a nation, the articulation of the values bonding its people and disciplining its government." Indeed this week we have demonstrated that the soul of our nation has not been lost.
We are one of the few countries in the world with the protection of the environment enshrined in the Constitution. It is our duty to honour, protect, and defend this provision. The living Constitution is the supreme law of our country, which governs the creation of all laws and the interpretation of those laws. Our elected government officials take an oath to uphold, protect and defend all provisions in the Constitution. This week they have demonstrated to us that they take this oath seriously. We thank them.
This week our government has decided that it will not compromise the integrity of our supreme law by promoting industry that will directly and dramatically decrease the sustainability of the living marine resources, leaving behind an ocean that cannot provide for future generations. Phosphate mining of the seafloor is a major concern for leading marine scientists worldwide as it could cause a collapse in the marine ecosystem which provides a very important source of food and jobs in a drought ridden developing nation such as Namibia in addition to being home to one of the most productive marine wildlife ecosystems in the world. The concerns of the scientists have finally been taken seriously, with Namibia taking the lead worldwide to consider science in decision making.
Along with the government, many key stakeholders have stepped up to the plate and taken a stand to raise concerns and awareness on marine phosphate mining, also stating that we must remain cautious as there could be potentially disastrous effects. As many of you know, the Earth Organization along with a larger group of partners have been fighting for the precautionary principle to be employed with regard to Marine Phosphate Mining since 2011. The communities raised their concerns and reflected that the potential cost of going forward with marine phosphate mining would not be acceptable to society. The principle cited by the people was that if society does not accept the cost then the government should not either [Environmental Management Act 2007, section 3(2)(h)].
The decision to place a moratorium on marine phosphate mining has put Namibia as a world leader in wise and cautious thinking in terms of marine mining. Where many other countries have rushed forward in causing irreparable damage to the marine environment by not taking scientific reasoning into account, Namibia has shown wisdom in being cautious. This very caution is exactly how sustainability is achieved. Indeed if this type of decision making continues to take place, we face a bright future. The very sun that is on our flag is the light which Namibia shines for the world to see. We have set the precedent.
Let us continue to be the example for others to follow. May we always stand in the soil of unwavering truth and let justice prevail as the most beautiful blossom.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Please take the time to send a thank you letter to our honourable Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau who took the lead to ensure that our marine environment is sustainable for current and future generations by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more background information on the hazards of marine phosphate mining, please go here: https://sites.google.com/site/earthorganizationnamibia/action-campaigns/marinephosphatemining
Saturday, 14 September 2013
For more photos from this event, please click here: March for the Environment 2013
As part of Biodiversity Week 1, there was an ocean art competition organized by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the NACOMA project, and several coastal schools for World Ocean Day. Our Director was asked to give a speech and offer words of encouragement while officially launching the Hummingbird Programme of the Earth Organization Namibia. The Hummingbird Programme is aimed at helping every person to realize that no matter how small they are they can make a difference. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGMW6YWjMxw to watch the story of the hummingbird. The slogan is "I will be a hummingbird. I will do the best I can."
For additional photos of the event, please click here: Ocean Art Competition and Hummingbird Launch
Please go here to view more photos from the events: Fearless Summer - Winter Photos
Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Published in the Namib Times
By Marcia Fargnoli
One upon a time, there was a beautiful ocean current named Benguela. She was one of the greatest caretakers on Earth. She gave the most abundant food on the whole planet and provided free meals to the tiniest and most gigantic creatures in the entire world. Animals from across the Earth traveled far distances to visit her. Dolphins, whales, seals, turtles, birds and fish were among her children.
Beautiful Benguela was such an amazing caretaker that she even provided water to those that lived on the land. The tiniest of water droplets danced on her surface and moved across the parched landscape. Those in search of freshwater and food found that she provided everything they needed to survive.
She was a great artist and at the end of every day she took the time to create the most beautiful paintings with the sun. The colours were extraordinary. Some nights she was covered in a blanket of mist and other nights the stars shined brighter over her than anywhere else. She was an exceptional musician. Her waves hummed the most delightful songs by day and by night. She never stopped singing. She was inspiring and offered solace to countless weary souls.
She was joyful. She tickled toes with her cool comforting waves. The children spent countless days befriending her. They played for hours on end and lost themselves in childhood games. Her waves danced continuously and some went out on boards and boats and danced with her. She made people smile. She was distinctively special and something unique and unmistakable about her resonated with anyone who took the time to notice.
Yet there were others who didn't care. In fact they only wanted to make money from her. They dumped poison into her, threw garbage at her, blasted for oil, and cut and dug away at her floor. They took more food than they needed and they searched endlessly for anything to bring money. Greed ran rampant. Those in search of wealth didn't understand her nor did they even seem to have a heart to care about what they were doing to her.
The gluttonous humans took almost everything from her, leaving her a shadow of what she once was. Her children started dying. Whales, dolphins, birds, seals, fish and all kinds of creatures washed up dead onto the shore. Yet, the ravenous continued, they said it’s normal. They didn't understand the animals were warning them to stop.
Beautiful Benguela was so magical and gave so generously. Why would anyone want to harm her? The people who understood and loved her dearly knew something was terribly wrong. They cried vast tears each night for her. The children wished upon a star that she would no longer have to face such abuse.
Some people fiercely defended her. They called and they cried, but the bullies continued. She fought to stay alive for years, but Beautiful Benguela could not survive the constant torment from the bullies and eventually she collapsed. This is how it came to be that we lost the world’s most beautiful and generous caretaker.