Thursday, August 30, 2012

In the News: In Memory of Nama

In Loving Memory of Chimpanzee Nama
Aug 23, 2012

It is with heavy heart and fond memories that we bid farewell 
to our beloved Nama. 

On June 29th, we lost some of the heart and soul of Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center when our beloved Nama, still only in her 30's, passed away after her illness of several months eluded our extensive efforts to diagnose it.  We are still hoping the analysis of autopsy samples in the United States will determine the cause of her illness and death.  For now, it remains a mystery. 

In 1999, Dr. Sheri Speede found Nama and Dorothy chained at the entrance of the Luna Park Hotel, an hour from the capital city of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, Africa.  Nama was tethered to a cement slab by a short chain around her neck for 16 years; Dorothy was there for much longer.  Within sight of one another, but out of reach, the two friends were unable to touch or embrace.  Nama was a petite adult, her growth stunted and teeth decayed by years of malnutrition.  She also suffered from a severe intestinal parasite infection and resulting anemia.  Dr. Speede worried that Nama might die before they could rescue her.  Her fears were put to rest in May 2000 when IDA-Africa assisted the Cameroon government in its forced confiscation of Nama, Dorothy and nine other primates also held captive at the hotel. 

(Nama grooming Dorothy)

Once safe at Sanaga-Yong Rescue Center, Nama's health improved dramatically and she and Dorothy were soon introduced to Jacky's social group.  Strong, smart and resourceful, Nama fit in easily, but Dorothy's path to social acceptance was more difficult.  Nama stood by her friend during her struggle, protecting her and providing comfort, making up for the years she could not do so.  Nama was also Jacky's first love and loyal supporter.  A courageous and gentle peacekeeper with an unerring sense of justice, she became the ranking female in her expanding family of chimpanzees.  In 2007 Nama saved the life of a volunteer who was being attacked by Bouboule, a large male chimpanzee who had been accidently released from his enclosure along with Nama; she chased Bouboule away from the volunteer over and over until the staff could dart him with anesthesia and return him to his enclosure.  Nama was the most influential female of the group for almost 12 years, until shortly before her death when her illness incapacitated her.

Nama was our shining star.  
She earned boundless admiration and respect from all who knew her.  While we celebrate her remarkable life in the telling of her story, we mourn her death that came much too early.

(Nama and Jacky embracing)


A story like this shows us the incredible resilience of animals.  Even after being chained, and isolated for so long, Nama and Dorothy were able to integrate into the family of Chimpanzees and enjoy the life in the group which is so natural to chimpanzees in the wild.

Thanks goes to Dr. Speede for not just walking by, but working tirelessly for several months until the 2 chimpanzees could be freed to a sanctuary.  

Let's open our eyes and hearts, and not walk by the next time we see a situation that cries out for help. 

Til next time,

Please see for yourself how the kindness of a small group of people can make a difference!  
Please join me in October for a great visit at a wild mustang sanctuary right here in California.  
The proceeds will directly benefit the horses at RTF.

     Copyrigth M. Raeder-Photography

Photo Safari at a Wild Mustang Sanctuary

An unforgettable afternoon Equine Fine Arts Photographer Kimerlee Curyl and Wildlife Photographer Meggi Raeder

Date:  October 19-21, 2012 [save the date]

For all details click here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Milky Way - Time-Lapse Video

A Million Stars Overhead

When being out under the dark night sky away from light pollution, you can see millions of stars.  It requires a little bit of driving  but when you reach an area of 'dark sky' it is quiet out there with the occasional rustling of an animals or hooting of an owl.  At some occasions, I took a lawn chair and just gazed up and  was fascinated that I could observe the earth rotation by the movement in the stars in the night sky.  Experienced astronomers will of course yawn at my statement but for me as a novice it held my imagination and awe.

To capture the milky way I traveled to the Easters Sierra where there is essentially no light pollution (no big towns and cities) and the number of stars in the sky was greater that you can ever see in the Bay Area.  But there are places closer to home where the milky way is visible.  The first part of the video is from the Eastern Sierra and then the last clip from the Bay Area with many more airplanes criss-crossing the sky.  For the first time, I tried my hands at time-lapse photography and and you can see the maiden voyage here.

If the embedded video doesn't work properly, please click here.

Til next time,

Please join me in October for a great equine photography adventure:

     Copyrigth M. Raeder-Photography

Photo Safari at a Wild Mustang Sanctuary

An unforgettable afternoon Equine Fine Arts Photographer Kimerlee Curyl and Wildlife Photographer Meggi Raeder

Date:  October 19-21, 2012 [save the date]

For all details click here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Milky Way

Nature's Light Show - every night!

Over the past year I have ventured out into the night and looked up to the stars.  My energy typically fades by 11pm but I can tell you that my 'new discovery' has boosted my energy after midnight!  Just recently I traveled to the high country in Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake and Owens Valley (Eastern Sierra) and was up 4 nights in a row until the wee hours of the night!  Being away from the light pollution in the Bay area and seeing really dark sky is amazing:  there are millions of stars visible that often obscure the main constellations such as the big dipper, and Polaris, the North star, often so brilliant in the sky was difficult to find - at least for a novice like me - when I was out on Carrizo Plains a couple of weeks ago.

Without much writing about my travel, I just wanted to share some of my new images and let you decide whether I am wasting my nights.  I feel I just discovered a completely new field of photography and know I will be out there searching for and capturing more of the beauty of the night sky and milky way - dark nights, here I come!

Milky Way over Carrizo Plains

Milky Way and Rising Moon, Eastern Sierra

Star Trails with Polaris in the left lower corner- Carrizo Plains
When exposing for a long time, the earth rotation is recorded in the movement of the stars.

 Star Trails, Angels Camp

Milky Way over McDonalds Lake, Glacier National Park

Milky Way, Carrizo Plain

Milky Way with meteor, Eastern Sierra

Half Dome illuminated by the Full Moon, Yosemite

I want to thank Steven Christenson, Star Circle Academy,  for his enthusiasm, inspiration and motivation to experiment with new tools!  

Please also watch my first time-lapse video on the beautiful milky way here.

Til next time,

     Copyrigth M. Raeder-Photography

Photo Safari at a Wild Mustang Sanctuary

An unforgettable afternoon Equine Fine Arts Photographer Kimerlee Curyl and Wildlife Photographer Meggi Raeder

Date:  October 19-21, 2012 [save the date]

For all details click here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Elephant Mother & Baby Rescue

Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand where you can volunteer and visit to help. We have been involved in dozens of rescues to create our thriving elephant herd.
The park provides a natural environment for elephants and other animals under our care. Volunteers and visitors contribute to the healing while learning about their lives past and present.

Located in Northern Thailand near Chiang Mai

Tong Jan:  
Born 14 February 2005;  
She was rescued from a Trekking Camp to the Elephant Nature Park on July 1, 2005.

Tong Jan was born on Feb 14th 2005 at a nearby trekking camp. Her name means ‘Golden Moon’. She arrived at Elephant Nature Park with her mother Mae Bua Tong, on July 1st 2005. Thanks for funding her rescue goes to Olivia Daniel and her parents.

Olivia came to the Park as a volunteer in April 2005. She fell in love with the work Lek is doing and wanted to help in some way. For her approaching 21st birthday her parents wanted to buy her a car, but she asked them if the money could be used to rescue elephants instead, and they wholeheartedly agreed.

Tong Jan’s mother was sent back to work shortly after she was born, and Tong Jan had no choice but to follow along behind her. She became weak and frail from lack of sleep. Volunteers on their way to Elephant Haven would always see her mother, foraging for extra food after a hard days trekking, with Tong Jan struggling along behind her. They felt sorry for this duo and told Lek about them. She contacted their owner to see if they could be bought, and found that a deal could be made.

Tong Jan and her mother arrived at Elephant Nature Park after a three hour walk, accompanied by Olivia, other volunteers and Elephant Nature Park staff. Upon arrival there was rumbles and trumpets of excitement from the herd females. Everyone tried to win Tong Jan over, to be chosen as ‘auntie’. After about 3 hours it seemed that Mae Elu and Thai had won the positions. Somboon took a month before deciding that she wanted to help raise Tong Jan as well, and took over Mae Elu’s position for a while.

The young Tong Jan has grown to be one of the Park’s greatest success stories. Her mahout patiently applies Lek’s training methods using positive reinforcement each day. Tong Jan is learning all the basic skills of a domestic working elephant (though she will never work a day in her life) through a reward system using bananas. With her mahout’s whole-hearted participation in her training, she is learning fast. Tong Jan is already living proof that elephants can indeed be trained without the need for physical dominance or abuse.

Bathing Time in the River, Tong Jaan in the foreground


Splashing and Playing

 ... and just enjoying and having a good time.
Elephants Love Water.


Elephant Nature Park is a unique project set in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand. Established in the 1990's our aim has always been to provide a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants. The park is located some 60km from the city, and has provided a sanctuary for dozens if distressed elephants from all over Thailand.

Elephant Nature Park Mission Statement

  1. Sanctuary for endangered species: We provide homes for these animals as well as contributing to their welfare and development.
  2. Rain Forest Restoration: One of the most exciting developments at the park is our programme of tree planting the surrounding area. The ecological balance of plants and animals will be encouraged by the re-introduction of the rain forest. Some 25 acres of the mountainside will be planted every year for the first 5 years.
  3. Cultural Preservation: To maintain, as much as possible, the cultural integrity of the local community. By creating employment and purchasing agricultural products locally we are assisting the villagers in sustaining their distinct culture. Park managers are recruited locally to oversee the park's progress.
  4. Visitors Education : To educate visitors, individuals, study groups, schools and interested parties. Emphasis on the plight of the endangered local species will be presented in an entertaining and constructive manner. Future phases will include audio / visual equipment and other modern educational aids. It is anticipated that small conferences and workshops will be organised at the park.
  5. Act independently : of pressure groups and political movements that we consider contrary to the well being of the park and the creatures in its care.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Til next time,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Compassion for Animals


Animals share our planet with us, but experience it differently —each has its own abilities and gifts that allow them to interact successfully with the natural world. Since we are merely one manifestation of the universe
’s energy in action, when we feel the need for direction we can turn to animals in nature for guidance. Animals can show us different ways to approach and deal with our challenges.

As we hold a question in mind, we can begin to pay attention to the animal activity around us. Staring out a window we may notice a bird soaring high in the sky, showing us how to look at our situation from a greater distance. If we don’t get an immediate answer, we can remember that the universe has its own perfect timing that doesn’t heed the ticking of the clock.

Instead, we can release our question into the universe’s care, and then trust that an animal messenger will carry inspiration our way. In the meantime, we align ourselves with the universe’s rhythm—opening, humbling ourselves, and shifting our perceptions so that at the perfect time we will be ready.

Then, even weeks later, the sight of a small bird hopping from branch to branch may signal for us to use a talent other than our greatest strength and to take small leaps rather than fly over details. A squirrel bounding across an open expanse of grass to stash its latest prize may remind us to check our favorite hiding places for forgotten treasure. Even if we don’t see actual animals, their representations may hold messages; whether we see them in a shape in the clouds, a picture, or a show on television, their symbolic meaning is the same.

Animals are closer to the rhythms and cycles of nature and have fewer distractions from it than humans do. That is why they are the perfect messengers when we are in need of advice. Just by being themselves they remind us of the wisdom of the universe, and that all answers are available to us when we reconnect with our source and with those who know how to be nurtured by it.

From: Animals Need Help and Compassion

Monday, August 6, 2012

In the News: Polar Bears

Hot and Hungry

After swimming for days from the arctic ice pack, the Ice Bear arrives at Hudson Bay famished.

Please read more on the polar bears and their survival on my Travel TidBits here.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

California's Back Country

Carrizo Plain - National Monument

Driving away from the busy Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, one can find gorgeous California back country in the corridor between Highway 101 and Highway 5.  From San Benito country, San Luis Obispo county to Santa Barbara, Kern and Ventura counties, few country roads connect the 2 main north-south freeways.  It's rugged country and it's cattle country. However, this time of the year with the rains in distant past the pastures are golden and bone dry and only the California Oaks with their deeply reaching roots remain green spots in the country side.  The more one drives East, even the oaks diminish and the golden hills is all that's left.

Corrizo Plain in April with blooming wildflowers

Last weekend, I needed to drive to southern California and took an extra day to explore the back country east of San Luis Obispo.  I had driven through the Carrizo Plain, a National Monument, last April when the wild flowers put on a colorful show with many blooming in white, yellow and blue.  Now, in July, few hardy survivors struggled in the golden plains and the deserted pastures and fences told the tale of cattle grazing here in the winter.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) describes Carrizo Plain as follows:

"The Carrizo Plain, 100 airline miles (160 km) north of Los Angeles, California is an area by-passed by time. Soda Lake, its centerpiece, is a glistening bed of white salt, set within a vast open grassland, rimmed by mountains.

The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species, and is an area culturally important to Native Americans.  It is traversed by the San Andreas fault, which has carved valleys, created and moved mountains, and yet close up, is seen in a subtle alignment of ridges, ravines and normally dry ponds.

Although the Carrizo Plain appears to be a dry, harsh environment, Native American people have occupied the area for at least the last 10,000 years.  Contemporary Native American people continue to attribute important traditional cultural and spiritual values to the Carrizo Plain.

Famers and ranchers built homesteads on the Carrizo Plain during the 19th century, some of which were used into recent times."

Not many travelers come here in the summer heat and weeds growing in the cattle guards tell their own stories of this deserted place.

Remnants of mining equipment and a deserted shaft remind us of a more prosperous past on the Carrizo Plains.
 Mining shaft entrance in the upper middle of the picture 
and abandoned miming equipment.

Again from BLM: Traver Ranch

"The L.E. Traver Ranch was established in the 1940s. The family was primarily involved in dryland farming, and historical farming implements are on display. "

There is a whole field of antique farming equipment.  Looking at the heavily built tools, a day in the field must have been a tiring affair for men and beast.

Again BLM: Wallace Creek - San Andreas Fault

"Take a walk along the San Andreas Fault at Wallace Creek. Learn about this infamous fault that caused the 1857 Fort Tejon and the 1906 San Francisco earthquakes. "

San Andreas Fault very visible in the landscape

The length of the only partially unpaved road through Carrizo Plains is about 45 miles.  Half way through the plain on the unpaved but well-maintained road is a primitive campground where the old KCL Ranch was located.  KCL stands for Kern County Cattle and Land - another reminder of the cattle ranching in past times.

KCL Campground at sunset

The KCL campground was my home for the night.  6 camp sites with sturdy tables and fire pits and a single spigot of non-drinkable water.  Situated on a bit of an elevation, the view of the plain and the surrounding mountains was beautiful in the sunset colors.  Being about a hundred miles from any larger city or town, the Corrizo Plains are ideal for stargazing.  As the light fell and the stars came out, there were millions of them visible in the sky even with the 1/2 moon still shining until moon set shortly after midnight.

Moon illuminating the plains

Last light after sunset.
As the quiet of the night surrounded me, I eventually crawled into my sleeping bag and watched the stars sparkle overhead.  There were some owls hooting in the near trees and the red-shoulder hawk that had observed me from the trees at the campground still was calling for his mate long into the night.  But all was good as I drifted into sleep.

I had set my alarm clock for 2am after moon set to photograph the milky way.  I will write about my wonderful night sky and milky way experience in the 2nd part of this Travel TidBits.

Til then,

California Back Country:  Carrizo Plains-National Monument 
first published and copyright by M. Raeder-Photography.

Friday, August 3, 2012

No one hears

No one hears

As the needle goes in 
As the poison goes on 
The foul tasting substance is forced into my mouth 
As I begin to feel drowsy 
I feel pain upon pain 
Please God... 
HEAR MY PLEAS! one hears.

My ears and eyes sting 
What was in that syringe? 
Why are they shaving my back? 
What's that paste? BURNS! 
I scream again with the pain 
For mercy's sake... 
HEAR MY PLEAS! one hears

They scrape, 

they rape, 
they prod, 
they poke, 
they cut, 
they slice, 
they dice, 
they splice, 
they inject, 
they sting, 
they hurt! 

Please, I'M IN AGONY! 

... Still, no one hears.

~ Copyright Bernie Jones ~