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A dikdik, one of the smallest and most graceful antelopes.

Welcome to Eco Wild!

In this issue:

1. Black or with milk and sugar?
2. Elephant exports
3. Did you know that...?

1. Black or with milk and sugar?

I know, I know. How I could even consider such a sacred topic? I mean, just give me my cup of coffee in the morning-who cares if it's eco-friendly or not?!

Well, once you've had your cup of coffee and can think clearly, you might want to think about this...coffee is second only to oil as the most commonly traded commodity on the planet! If coffee is so big in international exports, primarily based in developing countries, let's examine how it's made and how earth friendly the black gold really is!

I hate to break it to you, but in general, growing and producing coffee is an environmental and economical nightmare. Why?

1. Tropical trees and bird habitat are cleared for coffee fields.
2. Fertilizers are used to help the coffee plants grow.
3. Huge amounts of water are used in the separation process, to remove the bean from the fruit.
4. This water is returned to the local streams, causing bacterial blooms which are fatal to fish.
5. The fruit is discarded to rot.
6. Coffee pickers earn little money for their labour.

So that's the bad news, the half-empty cup of coffee. What's the upside and the half-full cup of coffee?

1. There is new evidence that the mushroom's ecological role is to break down waste. Guess what? Mushrooms seem to love coffee waste and are successfully breaking down coffee waste in recent studies! They need their java fix too!
2. Starbucks, the American coffeehouse giant, and Conservation International, an American NGO, are collaborating to sell limited editions of an earth friendly coffee called Shade Grown Mexican Coffee. This coffee is organic, socially responsible and grown in shaded plantations which retain the native trees that provide habitat for migratory birds. Starbucks gave $750,000 to Conservation International since 1998, putting their money where their mouth is by helping fund this NGO and conservation in general. In addition, they plan to offer other "fair trade" certified coffee by October 2000.

Another green giant coming out of the closet! Now, I'll take mine white with no sugar please!

2. Elephant exports

Last week, an undisclosed amount of South African elephants were captured and flown to Angola as one solution to South Africa's excess elephant population. "The objective of this donation...is to help revitalise the Angolan economy...", a statement from the North West Parks & Tourism Board said.

Relocating elephants from areas where their numbers are too great for their habitat is an alternative to culling. South Africa has about 12,000 elephants, reaching its saturation point in a number of parks.

While in principle the relocation of these two elephant families is an excellent idea to protect the animals and promote cooperation among countries, this move is criticised by animal welfare organisations. Why? Let's look at Angola's animal welfare record:

  • Much of Angola's wildlife had been killed in a brutal 25 year old civil war between the Angolan government and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola rebel movement).
  • UNITA killed huge numbers of Angola's elephant and rhino populations in the 1980s, slaying the animals for the ivory and rhino horn profit.
  • Anti tank mines were sometimes used by poachers to kill the elephants.

"We are not opposed in principal to the idea. Moving elephants to areas where they traditionally occurred is a great thing", said Jason Bell, a spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "We just want their security ensured."

Don't we all. Which is the worse of two evils for this exploding, elephant problem? Culling or moving them to a country still in the throes of a civil war with an unknown number of land mines buried beneath the soil?

Let's hear your feedback and what you suggest as a viable solution to this problem. Send your comments to anne@eco-resorts.com and I'll publish it in next week's newsletter.

3. Did you know that...?

....it'll be harder to get that "stone washed" look for your jeans? The Arizona strip mine that supplied most of the pumice to create the stone washed denim will soon close because it changed the environment in an area considered sacred by North American Indians. "You should have to work to get that look", said Andrew Bessler of Sierra Club. Back to my good old jeans now!

....black rhinos are selective browsers, preferring plants with high fiber content, and paying little attention to their protein intake? What would mom say?!

....the Serengeti wildebeest give birth within the same two weeks to approx. 500,000 calves? Why? This annual February event naturally protects the many young from predators.

....trees shrink in the day and grow at night? It's true! Trees can shrink by the hour during the day and then grow at night, naturally regulating their water use and diameter growth through transpiration. I know a few people who would pay big bucks for that secret!

I hope you enjoyed this week's issue as much as I enjoyed writing it; now I encourage you to take some action and go wild about East Africa, wildlife and ecotourism!

Until next week! Anne Article ideas, quiz ideas, general feedback and other suggestions are always welcome! Please send them to: anne@eco-resorts.com.

If you find this information valuable, please share it with a friend!

Thank you for your support!

Anne Article ideas, quiz ideas, general feedback and other suggestions are always welcome! Please send them to: anne@eco-resorts.com.

If you would like to join the Eco Wild email eco forum discussion group, please send an email to: ecowild-subscribe@egroups.com. If you would prefer not to receive any more copies of the Eco Wild newsletters, please email anne@eco-resorts.com with "unsubscribe" in the subject line (sniff! !).

For permission to reprint this or any article from Eco Wild (formerly HMS corporate newsletter), please contact Anne Loehr at: anne@eco-resorts.com.

Copyright 2000 - All Rights Reserved Anne Loehr

Eco-Wild
Anne Loehr
Eco-resorts
P.O. Box 120
Watamu, Kenya

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