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Is It Time to Grant Nonhuman Animals “Human Rights”?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | August 23rd, 2013 | 5 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: animal ethics, animal intelligence, animal rights, badgers, cetaceans, coyotes, crows, dolphins, Eco Travel, elephants, environment, nature, nonhuman intelligence, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, prairie dogs, primates, travel, whales, Wild Dolphin Project, wildlife

Humpback whale breach

Crows in American cities drop tough nuts onto heavily trafficked streets and then wait for cars to crush them open so that they can get the food inside. Prairie dogs use a sophisticated, complex language; and coyotes and badgers work together to catch prey. It seems as though every day we learn more and more about the high intelligence of nonhuman animals.

Of course, when it comes to mental agility, most of us would list primates, elephants and cetaceans (such as dolphins and whales) at the top of the list. If we are finally starting to recognize the intellect of nonhuman animals, is it time that we extend to them some of the rights that we humans enjoy?

Are Some Anti-Poaching Solutions Too Extreme?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | July 3rd, 2013 | 3 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: anti-poaching, Eco Travel, elephant tusk, elephants, environment, ivory, Kruger National Park, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, nature, poaching, Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, rhino horn, rhinoceros, Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa, travel, wildlife, wildlife poaching

elephant poaching

Despite efforts such as anti-poaching patrols, increased arrests, relocation and unmanned security drones, it seems we’re losing the battle against wildlife poachers. Already in the first six months of 2013, for example, in South Africa alone, more than 200 rhinos have died at the hands of poachers.

Rhino horns are in demand because the desire for traditional “medicines” in Asia is growing. Products that contain rhino horn are touted as successful cancer treatments, and rhino horn is being marketed even in hospitals to the families of critically ill patients. It’s also being pitched as a trendy hangover remedy. In Vietnam, the country that has recently emerged as the single largest market for rhino horn, the item is considered a very high-value gift. That’s why some innovative wildlife conservationists have come up with a plan to make the horns of living rhinoceroses toxic.

But should we alter the makeup and appearance of wildlife, even if it is in an effort to save animals from poaching and extinction? 

“Natural Capital”: Will Putting a Price on Nature Help Protect It?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | March 19th, 2013 | 7 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: africa, American Forests, Belize, conservation, conserve, Costa Rica, Eco Travel, ecotourism, environment, environmental messages, green settings, green spaces, Guatemala, health, healthy, lions, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, natural capital, Natural Capital Project, nature, preservation, preserve, Tanzania, tourism, travel, U.S.

Oak tree

The benefits of green spaces and natural settings are becoming more apparent all the time: reduced stress, depression and feelings of aggressiveness; an increase in overall happiness; faster post-operative recovery; a decline in ADHD symptoms in children — all of these outcomes have been verified when people spend time in nature. The outdoors make us happier, cause us to be kinder and can even give us bigger brains.

While you could say these kinds of benefits are priceless, there’s a new trend afoot. By assigning a monetary value to natural elements in a healthy environment, it is hoped that governments, businesses and others in positions of power will come to see that protecting nature makes good financial sense.

This concept of pricing ecosystem services and natural features — and allowing them to be bought and sold — is gaining wide acceptance among conservationists. But could this approach end up obscuring the unquantifiable, soul-restoring advantages of natural places and put them at even greater risk?

Idle Worship

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | March 4th, 2013 | No Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: AIDS orphans, anxious, apple, at-risk girls, baby building, barriers to productive, bike, bike trailers, books, burn-out, busy, busy people, busyness, climate change, concerts, creation, dinners with friends, down and up, education, eureka, exciting lives, father, get-ahead friends, goof around, google, growth, home, idleness, incubation, inspiration, kids, lazy days, marathon, not enough, not enough time, parents, parties, pet owner, play, popular, puritans, strength, the busy trap, tim kreider, time in demand, tired, toddlers, travel, wife, work commitments, work ethic, writers, yin and yang, youth

“Busy” has become the anthem of the anxious. And yet, when asked, most are hard-pressed to say what, exactly, they’re so busy doing. They shrug and say, “you know, with kids,” or an even more vague, “Not enough hours in the day.”

There was a time I envied those “busy” people. Thanks to a youth spent largely ignored by my more-popular peers, I equated “busy” with “popular.” At home with my books, I imagined “busy” meant parties and concerts, dinners with friends, and interesting work commitments. The lives of “busy” people struck me as exciting. Their time was in demand, and their busyness seemed an indictment of my own busy-less life.

Artificial Reefs: Ocean Junk or Help for an Endangered Ecosystem?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | February 8th, 2013 | 8 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: climate change, coral reefs, Eco Travel, environment, environmental awareness, environmental impact, environmental toxins, Florida, green, Green Living, Gulf of Mexico, health, marine creatures, marine environment, marine habitat, nature, New York, ocean, ocean health, PCBs, reefs, save the environment, travel, World Wildlife Fund

Sea turtle

Coral reefs around the world are in trouble. According to the World Wildlife Fund, about one-quarter of coral reefs are considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat. Some suffer from heavy fishing pressures, while others are succumbing to pollution or careless tourism. Climate change, with its attendant rising sea temperatures, is exacerbating the problem, speeding coral deaths.

More than half a billion people live near corals, relying on them for food, shelter from storm surges and the income that tourism brings. With natural reefs diminishing, artificial reefs are increasingly gaining favor. These structures usually take the form of sunken ships, decrepit oil platforms or other human trash.

But is depositing more human refuse in the oceans in order to create artificial reefs healthy for the environment — and for us?

Should Radio-Collared Animals Be Legally Protected?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | January 21st, 2013 | 14 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: animals, bear, bears, biologists, buffer zones, deer, Eco Travel, elk, environment, GPS, gray wolves, hunters, hunting, legal protection, Minnesota, Montana, nature, New York Times, park boundaries, predators, radio collaring, radio collars, radio telemetry, research data, scientists, Shoshone National Forest, travel, wild animals, wildlife, wolf, Wolf 754, wolves, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

Single wolf

Despite your stance on the ethics of radio-collaring wild animals, it can’t be denied that such endeavors provide scientists with reams of valuable data, such as information on where and how animals move and migrate, the nuisance activity they engage in, their reproduction and mortality rates, and how to establish wise management practices regarding them.

That’s why when a collared research animal is lost, it’s not just a detriment to that animal’s social group or species but to our understanding of nature, as well.

Usually, the death of a collared animal goes unnoticed, except within a few scientific circles. But when Wolf No. 754, a popular Yellowstone National Park research animal, was recently shot by a hunter in Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest, a few miles outside the national park boundary, reverberations and outrage were felt around the world.

It’s causing some to ask: Should research animals be given full, legal protection?

4 Tips for a Yoga Teacher in Training

Kim Fuller by Kim Fuller | January 2nd, 2013 | 1 Comment
topic: Fitness, Yoga | tags: authentic awareness, body, breakthroughs, challenges, community, connection, Costa Rica, emotional work, expectations, expression, human development, inspiration, knowledge, movement, open heart, passion, personal practice, physical work, presence, Real Evolution Yoga, resistance, teaching, transformation, travel, willing mind, words of wisdom, writer, writing, yoga teacher training, yoga teachers, yoga-practice

Becoming a yoga teacher was never one of my life ambitions.

For over five years, my yoga practice brought me joy and fulfillment, but solely from my studentship. Teachers had always intrigued me with their beauty, strength, confidence and presence, but to actually become a yoga teacher seemed like entering a different realm — one that I thought could not possibly be as blissful as the space on my favorite coral-colored yoga mat.

But every now and then I would think about what it would be like to lead a class, spreading pieces of possibility and shining smiles to all the students. I would cue and they would flow, moving with ease to the perfect music I was playing that matched all the perfect words I was saying.

But then my daydreams would subside, and I would find myself happy to only be responsible for my own moves, my own mind. Why would I want to teach anyway? It would take up so much time. When would I get to do my practice? If I was teaching, I wouldn’t be learning.

But are the two job descriptions — writer and yoga teacher — really that dissimilar? As a writer, my true calling has always been found in the power of connection and inspiration, traits any good yoga teacher should possess. I like to set my own schedule, travel a lot, wear comfy clothes and work in bare feet. I love sharing my insights and experiences, spreading words of wisdom wherever I go.

So, yes, now I am not only a writer. My career of word crafting has united with my passion for movement.

Zoos: Saviors of Threatened Species or Creators of Unnatural Ones?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | December 17th, 2012 | 6 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: africa, biodiversity, cheetahs, China, conservation, Eco Travel, elephants, endangered speices, environment, Ethiopia, extinction, genetic diversity, genetics, giant pandas, Green Living, lions, natural habitats, nature, North African Barbary lions, Smithsonian National Zoo, South African Cape lions, species extinction, Tasmanian tiger, threatened species, travel, wild animals, zoos

Lion Under Tree

A new species of lion has recently been discovered, announced the National Geographic Society a few weeks ago. Were the animals caught by camera trap or spotted by a tracker in the remote regions of Africa? No. They were found — in all places — in an Ethiopian zoo. It’s questionable whether any other representatives of this species are alive in the wild today.

All over the world, the struggle to keep endangered species from going extinct is often played out in zoos or in captive breeding centers. The last known Tasmanian tiger lived out its life in a zoo before it died in 1936, giant pandas are being bred in Chinese reserves and whooping cranes are being raised at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.

Living in zoos or in other places of captivity, however, changes wild animals — sometimes to the point where behaviorally they little resemble their wild counterparts. But is keeping an altered, threatened wild species from going extinct better than losing it altogether?

Yoga for Road Trips

Gwen Lawrence by Gwen Lawrence | December 7th, 2012 | No Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Fitness, Yoga | tags: back-pain, breathing, breathing techniques, car, dry eyes, eye stretches, Forward Folds, Gwen Lawrence, high gas prices, holiday, holiday travel, inflation, lions pose, low back, road rage, road trip, road trips, shoulder shrugs, shoulders, stress, stretching, summer, tension, tight forearms, travel, vacation, wrist rolls, wrists, Yoga

With air travel rates literally reaching the skies, many people are choosing to drive instead of fly to their holiday destinations. But along with the excitement of your trip, you can expect to feel some anxiety and stress. Not to mention, succumbing to the inevitable frustration of traffic and road rage after spending hours in the car. In order to balance the added stressors that accompany affordable travel, get into the habit of stretching while on the road.

Here are five yoga poses, stretches and breathing techniques to undo the tension of long hours in the car and help you arrive to your destination refreshed and happy.

Thanksgiving Blessings

Bevin Wallace by Bevin Wallace | November 16th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating, Personal Growth | tags: America, blessings, dinner, family, food, giving thanks, grateful, gratitude, holidays, meal, prayer happiness, Ralph Waldo Emerson, thankful, thanksgiving, The Book of Common Prayer, travel, William Shakespeare, Yoga

Thanksgiving Blessings

“This food comes from the earth and the sky. It is a gift of the entire universe and the fruit of much hard work; I vow to live a life which is worthy to receive it.” — Grace of the Bodhisattva Buddhists

At the beginning of every yoga class, while we’re sitting in sukhasana, my yoga teacher always says to “give silent gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.” And, even though I am mentally not quite “there” yet — I’m still trying to find my “sit bones” and thinking about my grocery list and how I forgot my daughter’s gym shoes and did I shut the garage door? — usually, I do it. Images of my kids’ faces and my cozy brick house flash through my mind, and if I take time to really think about it (and not about the location of my cute new flats that I hope the dog isn’t eating right now), I realize I have so much to be grateful for: my close, loving family, my friends, my health, my readers, my Dutch oven, fire-roasted Hatch green chilies, pasture butter and the fact that I am rarely hungry.