Showing posts from 2010

Holiday Giving

If you prefer the gift of donation over material giving, then there are some choices for you this year. Many non-profits are upping their use of the internet to increase their presence in the donor-market. Here are some of the choices that I've riled up for you. After all, generosity is the greatest gift of all... Kiva's mission is "to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty." Kiva is using the internet to create a global communities of people connected through lending. With Kiva, individuals can make microloans to entrepreneurs across the globe and those in need. Kiva was born of the following beliefs: People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way. The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity. By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community exp

The Joys of Sustainable Coffee

Mmmm...nothing like a warm cup of coffee to get you going in the morning. But does your coffee come at an enormous cost? We're not just talking pocketbook here, we're talking environment. The beginnings of coffee-growing were quaint and quite non-destructive. For over 150 years, coffee was grown under the shade of canopy trees in the rainforest. In the 1970's a new, high-output method of growing coffee was introduced, in which the shade trees and everything else around was cut and cleared so that coffee plants could be planted densely and doused with pesticides and other agrochemicals. This produced more product for the growers, but has sacrificed generations of wildlife that have suffered at the hands of habitat-loss. Sustainable methods of coffee-growing, in which canopy trees and original forest is kept intact and coffee is planted in their midst, is actually beneficial to the environment and to wildlife. Biodiversity is maintained and therefore so is the wildlife t

Volunteer projects around the world

Hello again. This is probably one of my most important posts, as a lot of people request information from me on cheap volunteer projects abroad. Whether you want to volunteer for a couple of weeks or a couple of years, I'm gonna give you some information on how to do it without spending the thousands of dollars that some companies want you to pay them for setting you up with volunteer opportunities. Yes projects are expensive, but a lot of these "middle-man" companies take a profit from your contribution to the charity that you choose to volunteer with. So it's much cheaper to find these projects on your own. That's where I come in. When I'm not working my arse off to make actual money doing lab work, I'm in the jungle or the forest working with wildlife on a volunteer basis. Though my ultimate goal is to build my own wildlife sanctuary, I enjoy traveling around the world doing various volunteer projects with different kinds of wildlife. My first voluntee


Crude This documentary is a demonstration of selflessness of the greatest kind. Having been to the Amazon, revering it as one of the greatest spots for biodiversity in the world and the "lungs of the planet", this film hits home with me. For 13 years, 30,000 Ecuadorians, one lawyer, one advocate, and numerous rainforest charities have been fighting a "David and Goliath" battle against one of the biggest corporations in America; Chevron/Texaco. Their funds small and their hearts big, they've taken on this case throughout numerous Ecuadorian presidents and now a new Judge in the case (hence the time it has taken to come to a final decision). Meanwhile, native Amazonian Ecuadorians continue to get sick and perish upon large oil waste sites on which they've unknowingly built their homes. They continue to drink and bathe in river water that has been contaminated by petrochemicals for centuries. All this in a once-pristine jungle landscape where some of the n

Whatever You Do, Don't Run

I just finished a great book I just had to share. It's called Whatever You Do, Don't Run, true tales of a Botswana safari guide, by Peter Allison. In it, Peter describes his years as a safari guide, the stupid things he has done to almost be killed by the ferocious predators of Africa, and the quirky people he has met along the way. It's one of the most pleasing books I've ever read. Quick read and absolutely hilarious. If you're interested in animal anecdotes, pick it up and give it a read. This is the first entry in the book that made me laugh out loud: the background is that his camp is experiencing a mouse plague, where literally you can throw a shoe into the corner of your tent and kill at least two mice. Peter has tried to alert the camp management (who are based in another location) about the problem, as mice are not typically found on the list of wildlife that tourists on safari would like to see. The camp management simply sends them one small, ecofriend

Baby sloths!

I'm in Brazil at the moment, for a quick beach vacation and a run in the Atlantic Forest. But I ran into this and had to share it. :) :) :) Meet the Sloths Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo . It's from a sloth rescue center in Costa Rica, called Aviaros del Caribe - the world's only sloth orphanage. Baby 2 and 3 toed sloths, whose mother's have either been run over or zapped by power lines are brought to the sanctuary and looked after by legendary sloth whisperer Judy Arroyo. For more sloth photos and videos follow this blog: or twitter For more on the sanctuary go to

Rainforest FUN!

Ha ha ha, I just found the video that was the sole reason I became interested in the rainforest. Well, it was the first mention of the rainforest that I'd ever heard. I was in 4th grade, when the whole "rainforest" thing was fairly new, and it didn't have nearly the attention it does now. My teacher, Mrs. Allen (this was 1989!) played us this video in class (I was 10!). Yeah, it's f#%king cheese, but hey, it led me to where I am today (I was wearing neon!). I just remember watching it and loving the greenness of it, the cool animals and plants, and yes, even the beats. Lol! Here you go, a treat for you... And another fun treat...check out this crazy mating dance of the birds of paradise. What? Who doesn't like a giant glowing fish-frog face hoppin' around in front of them every now and then? And lastly (but not leastly), here is something pretty amazing (if you haven't heard of it yet) - the lyrebird (liar bird). This one is in the Adelaide zoo,

Dark Green Religion - discovery of the sacred in nature

Photo copyright Jennie Burns Dark Green Religion. I first heard the term on National Public Radio. Bron Taylor, Professor of Religion and Nature at the University of Florida, has just written a book with this title. I was excited to finally have put a name to my way of thinking. Let me explain... It has been known for some time that the Earth, in its ideal atmosphere for human existence, may be unique in our galaxy, and that nature as we know it may be a peculiarly rare thing in the infinite universe in which we exist. So then, shouldn't nature itself be considered sacred and miraculous? Whereas many christians believe that the sacred only exists above and beyond this earth and above and beyond what we know, followers of "dark green religion" consider that the sacred lies here on Earth, able to be touched, experienced, loved and protected. And this is the very sentiment that I have always felt. According to Bron, Nature religion is most commonly used as an umbrella

Costa Rica

Bien venido a Costa Rica! Pura Vida! This was my first experience with la selva (the jungle). When I was 20 years old, in college, I got a chance to take a month-long Tropical Ecology class right in the jungles of Costa Rica. This was through the Organization for Tropical Studies ( and Duke University. So I decided to leave a bit early for Costa Rica and spend a week or so on my own checking things out. My first destination - Manuel Antonio. I would recommend Manuel Antonio to anyone looking for a great (and cheap) beach vacation destination. It's on the Pacific coast, and has its own National Park full of capuchin monkeys. You can take your pick of hotels, as there are pricey nice ones and small cheaper ones. I stayed at Hotel Velabar, a small hotel, 25 or so bucks a night, a short walk to the beach, and with a built-in restaurant where they make the best honey pancakes I've ever tasted. The stray cats and hoppity frogs will keep you company as yo

How your food affects the rainforest

Have you ever stopped to think about how the food you're eating may be affecting the rainforest? In fact, many foods such as bananas, soy, beef, palmitos (hearts of palm), and even breakfast cereals can have a negative affect on the tropics. I'm writing this in response to an email I received this morning from Rainforest Action Network (RAN), who is campaigning against General Mills cereals. I wanted people to not only be aware of the fact that General Mills is aiding in the destruction of the tropics, but also to simply be more food-conscious in their everyday lives. Environmental organizations have warned that by eating foods that use palm oil as an ingredient, Western consumers are directly fueling the destruction of orangutan habitat and sensitive ecosystems. Today almost half of Malaysia's cultivated land consists of oil palm, and the country has become the world's largest producer and exporter of palm oil, though Indonesia is quickly gaining ground. Palm oil is

The Wings of the Butterfly

A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest One of my friends so kindly let me know that her children are following this blog, so here is an entry for them. This tale is from the Tukuna (or Tucuna, or Tikuna) tribe of South America. It is recorded in Curt Nimuendaj├║’s The Tukuna . Nimuendaj├║ spent altogether nearly a year with the Tukuna in the early 1940s, and most of what we know about the tribe comes from his excellent study. Here it is... On the banks of the Amazon River, in a clearing in the forest, there once lived a girl named Chimidyue. She dwelt with her family and relatives in a big pavilion-house called a maloca. While the boys of the maloca fished and hunted with the men, Chimidyue and the other girls helped the women with household chores or in the farm plots nearby. Like the other girls, Chimidyue never stepped far into the forest. She knew how full it was of fierce animals and harmful spirits, and how easy it was to get lost in. Still, she would listen wide-eyed when the e

Journey through the jungle

I want to take you on a trip through the jungle. If you are curious, journey with me... start off following a trail (otherwise you'd have to hack your own trail through the jungle with a machete. Well, that would take all day and you would probably run into a bushmaster or fer-da-lance [two of the most deadliest snakes in the world] and get bit and die). The first thing you notice is how quiet it is; quiet with respect to the sounds of the city. There are no cars here. Absolute solitude, except for the thousands of animals living their lives in the depths of the jungle, waiting patiently for you to pass before continuing there daily routines. It is not quiet with respect to birds. Flocks of parrots fly overhead, spitting curses at you through the treetops. They seem to play with you as you follow the sound of their squawking, stopping only long enough in each tree for you to get just a glimpse of their bright red feathers before flying ahead to the next tree. Tropical so

Getting started

GETTING THERE First thing's first, getting the best deals to your destination. You'll want to sign up for travel updates at sites like,, and These sites send email updates with weekly or monthly deals that I've often taken advantage of. As far as searching for flights goes, the cheapest flights I've found have been using for general travelling. Specific airlines for South and Central America (check these before checking general search sites) are TAM airlines, GOL, BROL, and TACA airlines. In the lowland tropics, the USA winter (Dec-Apr) is the dry season (when it's very hot) and the USA summer (May-Nov) is the wet season. It may be cheaper to visit the tropics during the wet season, as there is more rain and humidity, and less tourists. When I went to Costa Rica in June, I had the whole of Manuel Antonio (one of the greatest vacation spots on the Pacific side) to myself. WHAT TO BRI