vegansaurus!

07/20/2012

Gorilla youngsters foil trap, are awesome  »

This, my friends, is amazing. According to reports, some juvenile gorillas on a reserve in Rwanda went around dismantling traps set by hunters:

On Tuesday tracker John Ndayambaje spotted a trap very close to the Kuryama gorilla clan. He moved in to deactivate the snare, but a silverback named Vubu grunted, cautioning Ndayambaje to stay away, Vecellio said.

Suddenly two juveniles—Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a female; both about four years old—ran toward the trap.

As Ndayambaje and a few tourists watched, Rwema jumped on the bent tree branch and broke it, while Dukore freed the noose.

The pair then spied another snare nearby—one the tracker himself had missed—and raced for it. Joined by a third gorilla, a teenager named Tetero, Rwema and Dukore destroyed that trap as well.

How awesome is that? Hint: SO AWESOME. People have seen adult gorillas do this before but this is the first time they’ve seen juveniles do it. Unfortunately, this comes after a trap killed a young gorilla recently. So sad. The traps are set for other animals they say and people don’t even want the gorillas; if they get caught, they are left to die. So effed. I thought “bush meat” was popular though and one of the reasons mountain gorillas are so endangered? I don’t know, it’s so sad. But let’s not be too sad, let’s be happy that gorillas have once again shown how cool and smart they are! Go go, gorillas! 

You can check out the reserve and donate to the fund. And apparently, if you become a member or something, you get a gorilla ringtone! I don’t know what that entails but I’m so down. 

08/30/2011

Baby gorilla rescued from poachers! Also: OMG BABY GORILLA. So cute. So eerily human with her expressive face. I love you baby gorilla! Her rescuers named her Ihirwe, which means Luck in the Rwandan language  Kinyarwanda. I will call her Lil’ Lucky from now on. Oh boy, that could be her DJ name! DJ Lil’ Lucky on the ones and twos! Though DJ Baby Gorilla is good too. Wow, that’s really good actually. One of you has my permission to take DJ Baby Gorilla as your DJ name. First come, first serve.
It’s likely she was taken from  the Bukima area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) park. This little girl was rescued by Rwandan police after poachers stole her, presumably for the international pet trade. Nobody knows if her family was killed when the poachers kidnapped her or any of the circumstances surrounding how they got her. But she’s eight months old, adorbs and safe. I’m not sure what her future holds but for now she is in the care of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.
Mountain gorillas are critically endangered and according to a census by the International Gorilla Conservation Program, there are only 786 remaining in the mountains of DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. That’s like a medium-sized high-school. Fucking A. However, if you remember as I’ve written before, this is a dramatic increase from previous years. Let’s hope that continues. Also, screw whoever buys kidnapped baby gorillas from poachers! Who does that? Somebody is just like, “yeah, I totes need a gorilla” and calls their friendly neighborhood poacher? WTF.

Baby gorilla rescued from poachers! Also: OMG BABY GORILLA. So cute. So eerily human with her expressive face. I love you baby gorilla! Her rescuers named her Ihirwe, which means Luck in the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda. I will call her Lil’ Lucky from now on. Oh boy, that could be her DJ name! DJ Lil’ Lucky on the ones and twos! Though DJ Baby Gorilla is good too. Wow, that’s really good actually. One of you has my permission to take DJ Baby Gorilla as your DJ name. First come, first serve.

It’s likely she was taken from the Bukima area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) park. This little girl was rescued by Rwandan police after poachers stole her, presumably for the international pet trade. Nobody knows if her family was killed when the poachers kidnapped her or any of the circumstances surrounding how they got her. But she’s eight months old, adorbs and safe. I’m not sure what her future holds but for now she is in the care of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.

Mountain gorillas are critically endangered and according to a census by the International Gorilla Conservation Program, there are only 786 remaining in the mountains of DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. That’s like a medium-sized high-school. Fucking A. However, if you remember as I’ve written before, this is a dramatic increase from previous years. Let’s hope that continues. Also, screw whoever buys kidnapped baby gorillas from poachers! Who does that? Somebody is just like, “yeah, I totes need a gorilla” and calls their friendly neighborhood poacher? WTF.

01/10/2011

Vegan Treats posted this picture of a gorilla cake on twitter this weekend and I was like oh my jesus! Did they just read my mountain gorilla post?! I don’t know! But maybe!
I officially proclaim this cake a celebratory symbol of the mountain gorilla population explosion in eastern Africa!
Also: their website design rules. Take a peek.

Vegan Treats posted this picture of a gorilla cake on twitter this weekend and I was like oh my jesus! Did they just read my mountain gorilla post?! I don’t know! But maybe!

I officially proclaim this cake a celebratory symbol of the mountain gorilla population explosion in eastern Africa!

Also: their website design rules. Take a peek.

01/07/2011

Mountain gorilla population increases! Maybe we aren’t going to hell!  »


Dead animals got you down? How about some good news! The population of mountain gorillas in eastern Africa has increased by 26 percent since 2003! Damn, gorillas! Get your freak on!

A census conducted by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme in collaboration with several other organizations reports that there are now 480 mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif region of eastern Africa. That means there are 100 more gorillas alive today than in 2003, for a total of 786 mountain gorillas in the world!

All right, I’m depressed again. I didn’t realize that “critically endangered species” meant there were so few mountain gorillas! Less than 1,000? Jeez. And critically endangered is some serious shit. But let’s not get too depressed! They still managed to hugely increase their population in a remarkably short time. Threats to the mountain gorilla include poaching, habitat loss and even war. Head over to the World Wildlife Fund gorilla help page to see what you can do.

You know guys, mountain gorillas are herbivores, save for a bug here and there. And mountain gorillas are stronger than any old meat-eating human! If our close genetic relatives the gorillas can subsist on a plant-based diet, maybe it’s not so “natural” that people eat meat? I know bonobos are our closest relatives and they eat some animals but a mountain gorilla could totally destroy a bonobo! Why? Because vegans dominate!

[photo by mrflip]

08/31/2010

Guest post: A vegan in Africa!  »

If you’re like me, (and since you’re here I’ll assume you’re at least a little like me), you like animals. You’re even more like me if you hate stupid zoos and much prefer viewing creatures in their natural habitat, running free, wind in their fur or reptilian skin or whatever. Where best to do this? Africa! It’s been my dream forEVER to go on safari in Africa, and this summer I finally went. I mean, there are a gazillion animals there, and you don’t even need to get all National Geographic, camping-out-for-days-in-abandoned-rodent-burrows to see them; basically, you just show up. As soon as I booked my flight, however, I heard the voice in my head say, “What are you going to eat, you dummy? They only serve antelope and alligator over there!” And it’s true that they do serve both those things with alarming frequency, I’m happy to report that being vegan in Africa ain’t so hard! I’ll show you.

View of Capetown’s V&A Waterfront from our room at the Cape Grace Hotel.

My first stop on the trip was Capetown, South Africa, which is basically just San Francisco. Seriously, it bears a striking resemblance to my wonderful hometown: the light, the mountains all around, the fog, the bay complete with an old jail on an island—it was just like being at home, except for all the nasty biltong. Yuck. Anyway, should you find yourself within like 500 miles of Capetown you must stay at the Cape Grace Hotel. No room in the budget for such swankiness? At least save up R550 ($75 U.S.) per person for the insanely amazing vegan tasting menu at the hotel’s restaurant, Signal. That’s the price WITH wine, people. You get five courses, plus a sorbet palate cleanser halfway through (can’t have dirty palates, now can we?), and a different, super-yummy South African wine with each course. It was hard to keep up, but somehow I managed (read: got DRUNK). From the beet carpaccio to the miso risotto, I promise your taste buds have never had it so good. And at the end you get this insane chocolate tart for dessert, complete with a sugar orb full of sorbet! What?! Yes.

Pretty sure this dessert is made exclusively of magic.

That dinner at Signal was one of our first meals in Africa, so we set the bar stratospherically high, but the rest of the food was good too! In Capetown, most places know what vegan is and can accommodate you. Plus there are tons of Turkish and Indian and Asian places that always have at least something vegan-by-default on the menu. Outside of South Africa, it’s a little tougher, but not much. If you’re going on safari (hello, that’s why you’re here right?) then just make super-duper sure to let your outfitter know in advance about your awesomeness. When I was researching the trip, not a single company I talked to told me they couldn’t feed me. They were all happy to make it work. You are paying money, after all! In the end, I went with Sanctuary Lodges, staying at two of their camps in Botswana and one in Uganda. All three were ridiculous—animals everywhere, fantastic guides, breathtaking sunsets—and at all three I was very well fed at every meal. The chefs went out of their way to include me, even going so far as to bake special vegan biscuits (using olive oil instead of butter) for afternoon tea. Man, life ruled on vacation.

Tea time treats including olive oil biscuits in the back.

What’s also super-cool is that in Uganda you can see the endangered mountain gorillas. It costs a shitload, but all the money goes to help protect them, which is (DUH) totally important!

Mountain gorillas have been habituated to humans, but still very much wild.

Uganda also has tons of great Indian food because it used to have tons of people from the Indian subcontinent (before batshit crazy Idi Amin expelled nearly the entire population), which makes eating there pretty easy. Same goes for Kenya, where we stayed with some friends, and which was our penultimate stop on the trip. (Normally I would have just said “second-to-last” but our last stop was so the motherfucking ULTIMATE that it makes sense!)

Curries like this chickpea version are abundant in Uganda and Kenya.

While in Kenya, we only had time to stay in Nairobi, but just like Capetown and other big cities, there was plenty of ex-pat cuisine with vegan items (pizza sans cheese, salads, hummus, etc) so it was no problem. However, due to my not-so-with-it friends, I also found myself at the most horrific place EVER while in Nairobi: a place no vegan should ever know about, let alone visit: Carnivore, the restaurant. Word on the street is that this monstrosity used to serve zebra and cheetah and other wild animals. Now that such things are frowned upon (um, hooray!) the most exotic dish is ostrich. Still, ugh. But, rather than stay in the car and cry, I decided to see what vegan things Carnivore could dish up. Honestly? They did all right! I had a great salad and some curried veggies with plain rice. It still made me mad. I mean, I know so many people who just think it’s too hard to be vegan where they live, and I had a vegan meal at a restaurant called freakin’ CARNIVORE in the middle of Kenya!

Nothing like a good veggie burger to calm your rage.

Want to know how to alleviate frustration like that? Go lay on the beach for five days at the most insanely wonderful, all-inclusive resort where they bring you your every vegan desire (“Champagne and veggie burgers for lunch today, Mrs. Chari?” Surely! “An Arabic feast, complete with hookah delivered to your bungalow?” Of course!) while you lounge in the Indian Ocean wondering however on this planet you got so goddamn lucky. Yeah, that’s how we ended the trip, at Maya in the Seychelles. I know not everyone can do this and I know how blessed I am to have been able to go. Seriously, if you can get there, you will be renewed, re-energized, and catered to beyond your wildest imaginations. They heard we were vegan, and their response was, basically: OK, tell us what you want to eat every day and we’ll make it. Ahhh.

So there you have it. I managed to spend a month traveling around Africa without missing a single meal. Even better, I got to see the animals I love in their homes, and I met many people who are dedicated to keeping them safe. It was life-changing—and I’m already planning my next trip. Who’s in? I mean, baby elephants are CUTE!!!

See? Cute overload.

Sky Chari hails from NJ, so it’s surprising that she bears no resemblance to Snookie (unless she goes on a carrot juice-bender, in which case Sky too can get a little orange). She enjoys traveling this kick-ass world of ours almost as much as she loves eating good vegan food, but she is also quite content to stick around San Francisco, where she’s lived for 10 years, perfecting the art of trying new restaurants and overstaying her welcome at tried-and-true favorites. Read more about her adventures here.

11/03/2009

This is the latest video of Ndeze and Ndakasi, two mountain gorilla orphans in Goma. They are so hella cute, it’s plain silly. Learn more about them and prepare to empty your wallet on the site. I mean seriously, you might as well just cash my paycheck and throw the money on these two adorable girls because I CAN’T TAKE IT. Give them money, because this is what protects them from poachers, it’s really important. It doesn’t take tons of money to do this and it protects one of the most magical beings on the planet and there are only about 600 of them left. If there aren’t any baby mountain gorillas, I don’t know what there is left to live for. Really, think about it and then tell me I’m wrong.

Thanks, Livia!

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