Before It's Too Late - The Plight of the Asian Bears

Ursa Freedom Project: from Crush Cages to Freedom

For Immediate Release
March 14, 2009

Contacts: Jeanette McDermott ~ jeanette_mcdermott@hotmail.com
Camila Aguilar ~ pixlcam@copper.net

Ursa Freedom Project: from Crush Cages to Freedom

An online community joins hands and hearts to liberate 9,000 to 14,000 bears fromcrush cages and end the practice of draining their bile to make commercial products.The Ursa Freedom Project gathers all who affirm the right to liberty and deplore thetorture of any living being.
Moon Bears and six other species of bear are poached from the wild and bred incaptivity for the sole purpose of draining their bile for commercial products. Locked intiny crush cages on bile farms in China and Vietnam, the bears are unable to move inthese wretched conditions. Bear farmers often knock out the bears’ teeth, rip their clawsout and cut off their paws to prevent being hurt by the bears when they approach thecages to milk them for their bile. The bears live in this abject torture daily – until theydie. Freeing the bears is no small task. It will take the belief and coming together of agreat many to liberate farmed bears and dismantle the bile farm industry.

Ursa Freedom Project begins on March 20 (Vernal Equinox). Worldwide, people willgather for a variety of events from the Equinox to Summer Solstice to engage in doingwhat they love. All the while, they will be in action to stop bear bile farming. Many ideasfor community involvement are contributed by members at the Ursa Freedom Project .The campaign includes two money bombs where small individual contributions combineinto a large sum during the specified 24-hour time period.

“The most famous money bomb was dropped into the Ron Paul campaign in the U.S.on December 16, 2007, which raised $6.03 million in just 24 hours. Nickels and dimesamounted to millions of dollars. We want to set a new world record for money bombswith the Ursa Freedom Project,” said Jeanette McDermott, campaign co-creator anddirector.

After writing an article about bear farming for her social network, “ecopaparazzi”,Jeanette was haunted by stories and images of the tortured bears. She spoke with herfriend, Camila Aguilar, about waking up from a nightmare unable to move or breathe.Together they spontaneously combusted the vision of a worldwide campaign. To raiseawareness around the long ignored industrial abuses of the Asiatic Black Bear, alsocalled the Moon Bear, Camila offered her activist experiences, graphic and writing skills.Launching the action network, Jeanette brings her enormous energy and networkingand media gifts to attract people to join this visionary cause.
Money raised through the Ursa Freedom Project benefits Animals Asia Foundation, anon-profit organization with bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam for medical care,rehabilitation and room and board for the rescued bears. As bears are freed from bilefarms Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) sees to it that bear farmers are compensated fortheir loss of income. AAF gives farmers enough money and encouragement to start amore progressive job, while giving the bears they have farmed a new lease on life.
The Ursa Freedom Project inspires engagement through fun, education, art andcommunity involvement. Community events currently planned are Benefit for the Bearsconcerts in London, Australia, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and in Argentina,online and offline art sales and auctions, money bomb drops, fashion shows as well asmany events planned by individuals. “Through local activities and a positive spirit, we aim to awaken global awareness forthe plight of the bile bears. Our commitment is to move the hearts of the Chinese peoplefor the sake of humane treatment of an endangered species. We believe a globalresponse to this endeavor can bring about the necessary change,” said Camila Aguilar,co-creator of Ursa Freedom Project.


Willie Smits reconstructs the 'rain machine' of Borneo

Willie Smits reconstructs the 'rain machine' of Borneo
One biologist turns a hopeless wasteland into a thriving rainforest.

Mon, Mar 09 2009 at 4:50 AM EST

The rainforest as a living machine, is quite possibly the most sophisticated technology on the planet. It produces oxygen, emits chemicals that produce rain, sequesters carbon dioxide, fixes nitrogen and other nutrients, creates watersheds by stabilizing the soil, and supports life for thousands of species including our own. Though the services it provides are inestimable, in places like Borneo the human hunger for fuel (largely palm oil) is turning lush forests into barren wastelands.

One biologist Willie Smits was working in Borneo to save the orangutans from extinction, and realized that his only hope was to "reinvent" the rainforest form the ground up, and by doing so create both a safe habitat for the orangutans and a model for how local villagers can be prosperous while conserving the forest.

He presented the results a few weeks ago at the TED conference. Here's the story.

In 2002, his team began a project in East Borneo called Samboja Lastari in what Smits called "a biological desert." Deforestation and fires had transformed the once-lush rainforest, the native home of the red ape, into dry grasslands that stretched for miles and were essentially devoid of life, safe for 5 species of migrating birds.

His idea: "If i can do this on the worst possible place that I can think of, where there is really nothing left, no one will haver an excuse."

Six years later this place, once the poorest region in Borneo, is now thriving with a sugar palm plantation that sustainably produces ethanol (by tapping the trees) without the dire consequences of monoculture plantations. The many improvements that resulted include:
• jobs for 3,000 people
• no more fires (the region was plagued with underground fires that arise during drought)
• restored biodiversity -- over 1000 tree species, 137 bird species, and 9 primate species
• mean temperatures dropped 3-5 degrees
• Humidity up 10% & Cloud cover up 11.5%
• Rainfall up 27%
Smits developed a brilliant scheme for the reforestation project -- a unique type of agroforestry suited specifically for the needs and conditions of the region. It is organized around 3 concentric circles:

The outer ring serves as the economic base for the villagers, providing the sugar palm to produce ethanol, and creating a firebreak that protects the rainforest contained inside. The villagers are all trained in the sustainable method for harvesting the sap, and anyone attempting to fell the trees is taken to a court which is run by the collective of villages.

If Nick can do it, so can you and me!


When science hijacks conservation funding

Good article. Well done Jim!

When science hijacks conservation funding
Commentary by Jim Sanderson, Ph.D.
special to mongabay.com
March 04, 2009

A scientist's job is to create new knowledge. Thus it is not surprising that scientists are most interested in their own research. Scientists use many methods to raise funds to support their research agendas and build their reputations. Scientists collect information, publish their results, and seek out new opportunities. Because science is a tool that can be used for conservation, scientists often seek donations from conservation organizations to support their research projects.

Conservation requires mitigating threats to species. Conservationists use all the information available, including scientific information provided by scientists, to mitigate threats. The information provided by scientists is often used by conservationists. The problem arises when science hijacks conservation funding.

One insidious problem being inflicted on conservation is the diversion of conservation funding into the hands of scientists who use the plight of threatened species to support their research projects that do not have any conservation impact.

The phrases “little is known about this species,” “what we discover can be used for conservation purposes,” or “what we discover will directly influence management actions” are frequently used in proposals soliciting funding. These vaguely worded phrases often translate to “we hope that maybe someone someday makes use of this information for conservation purposes.” The word conservation appears in the abstract of the solicitation and that is the last time it appears.

In summary, there is a diversion of conservation funding going into science projects that have little conservation impact because there is no way to mitigate threats to the species that was used to secure the funding. This diversion of precious conservation funding must stop. When the name of a threatened species is used to raise funds for a science project, it is incumbent on donor agencies to ask themselves how the new knowledge will actually mitigate threats to the threatened species. This usually means that someone working in situ to mitigate threats can put this knowledge to good use. In many cases, there is no such in situ effort.

There is no question that good conservation depends, at least in part, on good science. The production of new knowledge is a good thing. But let’s make sure the new knowledge gained by scientists and paid for by conservation funding can be implemented to mitigate threats to the very species that was used to secure the funding.


End bear farming! Here are what you can help to end them.

Last month I posted an article about one of the cruelest practice we human invented to treat the moon bears and small portion of sun bear in China and Vietnam. Many readers have show their concerns and offer helps to end this practice. While being so far away from China and Vietnam, all of us can do our part to end this practice that should never even begun in the first place.

Jeannette McDermott has launch Ursa Freedom Project. This project is a global campaign to liberate 9,000 bears from crush cages on bile farms in China. The intent is to move the bears from these torturous prisons to the country club at Animals Asia. Together we can do it!

So how can you help? You can help us by getting involve on whatever level you are able -- for some it will be simply uploading a poster to an internet site; for others it will be organizing a music concert for an audience of 1,000 people. And everything in between. So it will be different for every person. But we are asking that each person do at least one thing to promote the Ursa Freedom Project so the information spreads far and wide across the globe. We will not only raise sufficient fund to help these bears on the ground, but also raise awareness to end this practice. This practice has to end! There is no second options. The more people who know about Ursa Freedom Project, the more we can help.

The first thing for you to do is join the new Action Network and get the html codes for the poster, badge or banner, and then upload as many of these images that you like onto your blog, website, facebook, msn chat room, anything you can think of to help us spread the news.

Just click here to start: http://ursafreedomproject.ning.com/