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Monthly Archives: May 2014


The best “fur coat” is that got from hairs on chairs.



   Hair free clothes? NEVER.

My darling Cassie and her sister Ming were both born without a limb and found dying in a feral cat colony.

That was three years ago and these tripods can sure give us humans a talk about survival and motivation.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I am off for the weekend to the countryside or “bush”, as we call it in SA.

We go to a place called Lindane and last time I was there this is what we saw 🙂

.giraffe I will be back on Monday, roaring to go!



Well, I am relieved that you are still interested in my blog after my previous doom and gloom post. I even depressed myself and started to wonder why I am focusing on such a dismal topic as the fur industry. There are so many blogs with stunning photographs of nature in all her beauty, politics, powerful poetry and delicious recipes. Of course there are those who, too, focus on the plight of our nonhuman companions and fight for their rights. Thank you ~ we can only do this together. However, everyone who reads this blog is a compassionate person who cares about the well-being of nonhuman animals.

So here is my gift to you, and my ritual offering of palm fruit to the ancestors, gods, fairies, angels, saints and other beings who work towards ending the exploitation of nonhuman animals.

Photograph taken in Zanzibar a while back

IMG_0516This is what gives me hope:

The Shembe church (SA) embraces fake fur to protect leopards 

-The Shembe church has more than five million members and tens of thousands of followers attend a special service every January.  

 -Worship is through prayers and dances. Older men, with their warrior shields, go through the steps of a traditional religious ritual to the rhythmic sound of drum beats.

-According to Lizwi Ncwane, spokesperson for the church, participants must wear the  customary ceremonial attire. This  includes a loin cloth of monkey tails, a leopard skin belt, bracelets and elaborate headgear with ostrich feathers. As leopard skins symbolise power, pride and royalty it is essential that a leopard skin is slung across their naked chests. Shembe tribe

-Leopard hunting permits are available in South Africa, but only to the extremely rich.  So how do these thousands of  Shembe worshipers obtain their leopard skins?
-Sadly, it is through an illicit leopard skin trade that, because of its cultural links, is ignored by the law. Guy Balme, Africa leopard programme director with US-based conservation group Panthera  claims, “This is the biggest display of illegal wildlife contraband on earth”. The big cat populations are now near extinct because of  loss of habitat and poaching,
-When Tristan Dickerson,  a leopard conservationist for Panthera, was invited to attend a gathering of the Shembe church in Durban he saw hundreds of leopard skins.
-As a full leopard skin costs up to R6 000, Dickerson noted that  some of the less well-off dancers were wearing a substitute of cow and impala skins painted with leopard spots.                                                      -Furthermore, Dickerson noticed that there were some followers and their children who wore inexpensive Chinese replicas. This inspired his innovative plan to find a realistic, synthetic alternative.
-Panthera in recent years has worked to develop authentic-looking fake leopard skins.
-The fabric is produced in China, then shipped to Durban where it is sewn into the final product.
-Initially there was resistance to this project but after much talking between conservationists and church leaders the church has now endorsed the alternative.  As Dickerson points out , “It has taken four years to get to the point where we are now, where they are accepting the furs and they are using them”.                                                                                                                                     

Tristan Dickerson – a lone crusader

-Panthera aims to distribute 6 000 free synthetic furs  in July 2014.  Already around 10% of Shembe members’ furs are estimated to be fake.
-Wearing his own synthetic leopard fur, spokesperson Ncwane predicts that up to 70% of dancers will have given up real skins within two years. Hopefully loin cloths, bracelets and belts will follow suit. 
-Dickerson’s journey towards saving endangered leopards with fake fur is now made into a documentary, To Skin a Cat.  Read the full story @ http://www.news24.com/Green/News/Zulu-church-embraces-fake-fur-to-protect-leopards-20140219
Although this change of tradition was motivated by economic necessity and the need to conserve the leopard population, it still illustrates that a mindset can change.
Now it is our task to convince people that all nonhuman life is valuable and that wearing real fur for a perceived status symbol is unacceptable.


S.A. ELECTIONS DONE and DUSTED: So what’s changed?

With the South African election results now finalised, many of us are asking, so what’s changed? Yes the African National Congress lost a few parliamentary seats, but what has changed?     SOUTH AFRICA IS  STILL A COMPLEX, MULTI-CULTURAL NATION.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu sums it up by calling South Africa the RAINBOW NATION. This symbolises the “extraordinary diversity of races, tribes, creeds, languages and landscape” of  modern South Arica”.  Tutu_0 When it comes to animal rights, how does this multi-cultural society bridge its differences? Sadly, I don’t have the answer. Criticism of cultural practices in South Africa is considered to be hate speech. Cultural practices that involve killing nonhuman animals are difficult to accept for those of us who believe all creatures are sentient beings.  Although I am listing some of these cultural practices, this is not to say that I support other practices that abuse nonhuman animals. For example, Archbishop Tutu also coined the term “National Braai Day” for South Africans. Braai is another term for barbecue where slabs of “meat” are cooked on a fire outdoors.  The aim of holding “Braai Day” is to annually celebrate a day (24th September) where South African citizens “are gathered around braai fires with family and friends” (Facebook page dedicated to this cultural practice).  By default this practice tends to exclude vegetarians and vegans.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My focus, though, is on tribal practices, as mentioned below: – South Africa still has a president who wears the tribal dress  of  animal skins.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Zuma in skins   – While woman are now allowed to head royal tribal families, traditional inaugural ceremonies involve the use of animal parts/ heads and skins.                                                  Skins in culturte   – Ritual slaughter is practiced in various African traditional ceremonies. These slaughter rituals have led to controversy in South Africa, as many people consider them cruel. I have never witnessed a ritual slaughter but have read an account of someone who has. The animal, usually a bull, is stabbed with a spear that is passed between the tied forelegs and back legs. This spear is then plunged into the stomach in a way that the bull does not die immediately but lies in agony.  According to David Welsh the bellowing of the animal is important to communicate with the ancestors. It is interesting that the ritual killing of the bull at Nelson Mandela’s funeral was NOT televised!                                                            

– The Bull Killing ritual, to prove manhood, outrages animal rights activists. In this ritual 20 to 40 young men push the bull onto the ground, stab his eyes, pull out his tongue, twist his genitals and then beat the defenceless creature to death.

– Animal and sometimes even illegal human body parts are used in certain muti concoctions  (traditional medicine). 

– Then we get the Shembe, which is a mixture of Christianity and Zulu culture. The Shembe is one of the biggest traditional religious groups in South Africa with around 5 million members. Leopards are seen as a symbol of pride, beauty and wealth. Leopard skins are viewed as essential attire for church goers.                                                                              Shembe tribe Tristan Dickerson, a conservationist at the Phinda Game , states, “From visiting a few of these (church) gatherings, you realize that it’s not 92 or 100 or 200 (leopard skins). We are talking about thousands of leopard skins”. If this practice  continues, Africa’s leopards, already listed as “near threatened” by the International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN), will become extinct.                                                     Leopard skins 

However, there is an uplifting story about the Shembe.  JUST WATCH THIS SPACE.

 Last but not least, there is still the multi-billion rand corporation, Investec Ltd. SA, that condones the fur industry and has a lease with Erich Fischer Furriers. While probably  none of these corporate executives would be seen wearing “animal skins”, it seems they would be more than happy to don an expensive “fur” to improve their perceived status.    fur 038 This is not to say that animal print fabric is not stylish. We only have to look at Nqaba Ngcobo to know that it is. Animal print


 A big thank you to my cyber friend Aina Nikita Leirstrand from Oslo, Norway for telling me about  Felix Pub & Scene.                                                                    Felix Pub and Scene 

As the name indicates, this pub is for cool people to hang out in, drink good beer and listen to alternative music. You will find it in Lillehammer, a town that  gained international fame after hosting the 1994 Winter Olympic Games.  The temperatures are icy here and Canada Goose jackets are popular.

What makes Felix Pub & Scene extra special is that it has taken a stand against Canada Goose, a company that makes quilted jackets stuffed with DUCK DOWN FEATHERS.  The ruff is COYOTE FUR. Read more @   http://www.examiner.com/article/do-not-support-canada-goose                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber Parka Womens Jacket (7950L-Blue)

Felix Pub & Scene has instituted a ban on Canada Goose jackets. It has put up posters stating, “Don’t clothe yourself in animal suffering!” under a crossed-out Canada Goose logo. “If you’re wearing Canada Goose, you’re not coming in!”

So why are Canada Goose jackets cruel?

There are no coyote fur farms in Canada.  The coyotes are trapped in the wild in the most brutal ways.                                                                                                                                                                

Down feathers are the soft feathers closest to the flesh of the ducks or geese. These ducks are kept in horrendous conditions and then plucked while still alive, until their flesh is raw.

foi gras                              

The general manager of Felix Pub & Scene is Melina Naess Nilsen.  When I checked out her face book page, the message

 ugly was there.

Hopefully the next step will be to ban all fur . 

Norway is in the process of considering a total ban on fur farming. This is due to the findings of investigations of more than 150 Norwegian fur farms held in 2008, 2009 and 2012 by activists of Nettwerk for Dyrs Frihet . They revealed the despicable conditions in which these fur animals were bred and killed. There was a strong reaction after the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation showed this widespread abuse of animals in the fur industry.  Several fur farms were immediately closed down by authorities. For more about the investigations, see  www.forbypels.no/english. Consequently, a ministerial committee is  evaluating whether the fur industry should be banned in Norway (2012).

These results should have been released last year (2013), so we are still waiting!

Put pressure on Norway, I say, to follow through on banning all fur farms!


See Yourself in Others

Whatever your views on life and death, keep things simple.
A peaceful weekend to you all ❤

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