Monday, January 21, 2013

Save the living things on this planet. Are we going to let things go extinct like the dinosaurs? Entire species vanish every year. We take notice of fierce things vanishing like tigers and sharks but we don’t take notice of the slowest and the oldest living things on earth. The turtle and it’s land loving cousin the tortoise have been plodding along slowly and steady for nearly 200 Million years and now we are going to allow them to go extinct just because someone will pay a lot of money for one of them ? Sure why not everything else gets destroyed over money anyway these days.
Yes, there is a booming illegal animal trade going on for these slow to run away little turtle and tortoises. It may be too late to protect most of them but there is one guy who is doing his very best to protect them. Maybe we should know his name better than Honey Boo Boo but no one really knows him. His name is Eric Goode and he is rich from owning some of New York City’s hottest hotels, bars, and restaurants.
He spends his money on giving a sanctuary to endangered turtles and tortoises. At six years old he was given a small tortoise as a pet and that created a life time love of the species. He is quite the outdoors man raveling to remote places in his quest to find the shelled beings. Turtles and tortoises date back to times before the dinosaurs but today about half of the over 300 species are headed towards extinction largely because of habitat loss and a new market for them in Asia where they are harvested for food, medicine rare collector’s items and pets.
China alone is involved in hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal trading of the species. The market flourishes because the payoff is huge and the chances of getting prosecuted or incarcerated for breaking the law is slim. He spends a million dollars per year of his own money to fight the trade in places like Madagascar which is an island off the coast of Africa. The place is very undeveloped where the people are very poor. Most people there make less than a dollar per day.
So with such a poor of living there is no political will to do anything there but cope and they only care for however much money they can get for these poor turtles. There are 5 species of rare turtle and tortoises there. Asian people love gold so the rare gold colored helmet of a tortoise is a rare and expensive find these days to be given as gifts. Its unique domed shell looks unusual because there are so few of them left. If you can find one, it’s value can go for as much as $60,000 dollars in Asia.
To try to stop the trafficking he and others have been drilling markings in the shells to make them unwanted. There are so few animals that they are taking the extreme measures to scar the shells in order to make them invaluable to poachers in an attempt to save their lives. Spider tortoises are destroyed simply to eat the liver of the thing. A Radiated Tortoise plucked from the outdoors can give a poacher $400 dollars cash on the spot. Great money when anything else you do earns you only about a dollar a day.
There is a national park hidden deep in the forest under the British Conservation Group Durrell with gates and fences under locks and armed guards running a refuge there. The Black market trade is so ulcerative that crime syndicates are involved now. The center was robbed in the 1990’s in what was called one of the heists of the century. Despite all their security about 100 rare tortoises were stolen. Outside the mountains of Los Angeles, Eric Good has his own conservatory called the Behler \Chelonian Center. He began with 150 turtle and tortoises given to him by zoos. He now has 630 animals from endangered species breeding. Elsewhere they would have on a menu somewhere.
Last year he hatched 250 animals which he preferred to be able to thrive in the wild where he wouldn’t have to pay for the exotic flowers they like to snack on along with specific things for their special diets. All the tree deforestation from people in their natural habitat is creating red waterfalls of mud instead of the fruits of trees that used to grow. It is sad when a turtle can’t even survive because of the stupidity of the top of the food chain dumb humans.

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