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  1. Like 44 million other people around the world, I’m a member of a global campaign network called Avaaz which helps ensure that the views and values of its members shape global decision-making. 

    Avaaz means voice or song in many languages. 

    Today, I’ve received an email from Avaaz, which has made me very sad but determined at the same time and I wanted to tell you about it. 

    Avaaz say that once upon a time, 25 million elephants roamed Africa.  Now the entire species is at risk of being wiped out in a decade, before they are poached to extinction.

    Avaaz says:

    “Poachers are killing 100 elephants a day -- shooting them from helicopters, or hacking their faces off while they’re still alive. It’s unbearably cruel. And the worst is the elephants understand what’s happening to them. They spend hours crying over dead family members.”

    Please help elephants today
    Please help elephants today

    BUT

    There is a chance to shut down a major ivory market in Europe.  We can all argue for ages about the country most at fault in not tackling ivory markets and shutting them down – but my view is that every market makes a difference.  Every ivory market needs to be shut down.

    The only way to save elephants is a global ban on the ivory business.  The time is right and momentum has never been stronger, Avaaz says. “The US and China passed ivory bans. Hong Kong looks set to phase-out trade by 2021. And the EU just suspended exports of raw tusks. Now, they’re considering further restrictions.”

    There’s a way to start tackling Europe’s ivory market. 

    Experts found that Europe's 'antique' trade is driving the slaughter of elephants by giving cover for illegal ivory, the EU launched a public consultation.  It wants proof. If they get that proof, a total ban is possible.

    The Avaaz team have found a way to get the proof needed. 

    They are teaming up with Oxford University and top wildlife investigators to source ivory across Europe and then radiocarbon test it to tell its age.  This could provide the evidence needed to get the ban.   

    The consultation ends in weeks. Avaaz is the only crowdsourced funding model which can raise enough, fast enough to get this grassroots-supported scientific study ready to lobby the EU as it is considering the ban.  The EU is asking for it now – but nobody else is ready to go on such an ambitious project. 

    Let’s all bring elephants back from the brink.  As I type, nearly 37,000 people have already donated, so please join them – Chip in what you can, £5, £7, £11 - it doesn’t matter but please do something -  and let’s get this scientific study ready to help ensure this isn’t the elephants’ last decade by getting the proof needed.   Please spread the word, even if you can't donate.


    Elephants don't need our tears.  They need our practical help.


    More information:

    In Fighting Illegal Ivory, EU Lags Behind (National Geographic)

    Elephants on the path to extinction - the facts (The Guardian)

    Elephant poachers are hard at work in Africa, and carbon dating proves it (LA Times)

    100,000 Elephants Killed by Poachers in Just Three Years, Landmark Analysis Finds (National Geographic)

    Image above ©Avaaz

     

  2. Cats Protection are asking cat loving knitters to help unwanted cats this Christmas by making cosy blankets and fun mouse toys.

    They’ll be launching this Christmas appeal at the Knitting and Stitching Show at the Harrogate International Centre from 23-26 November. 

    You can bring along donations of knitted blankets or mice to the charity’s stand at the event.   Or, you can drop your knitted contributions off at any of Cat Protection’s branches, shops or adoption centres in the UK.  All your knitted blankets and toys will help make the cats’ Christmas extra comfortable and fun. 

    The charity’s Events Manager Emma Osborne said: “We’re often asked by cat lovers for ideas about how they can help support our work, and our knitting bee is a great way to get involved. All the knitted mice and blankets we receive are given to cats and kittens in our care, and make their time with us that extra bit more comfortable.

    Get knitting for Cats!
    ©Cats Protection


    “Our volunteers and staff work hard throughout the year to give every cat or kitten the love and attention they deserve, and Christmas is no exception. We hope cat lovers and keen knitters alike will support our festive knitting bee so we can ensure as many cats as possible in our care have a special Christmas gift this year.”

    Knitters, you can use your own patterns to make blankets and mice or follow a pattern for the popular Captain Cat-Battler knitted mouse, originally designed by Lauren O’Farrell.  You can pick these up from the show, or call the charity’s Helpline on 03000 12 12 12.  

    If you’re at the show, take a look at the charity’s stand which will have lots of gift ideas for the cat lovers in your life!  It’s also a chance to find out about volunteering.

    Knitting for cats – some tips

    • Avoid using stretchy yarns or small plastic items e.g. those which can be used for a mouse’s eyes to reduce the risk of injury to cats and kittens
    • Avoid loose weave blanket patterns involving the use of large needles
    • Don’t leave cats unattended with knitted toys
    • Don’t leave blankets with cats who might have wool chewing habits!

    Cats Protection help around 190,000 cats every year through their 250 volunteer-led branches, and 34 centres.   I’ve volunteered for them at a centre in Sussex, and I absolutely loved it.   Yes, there were times when I came home shedding tears for these beautiful cats wishing I could take them all home with me, but I used to give myself a stern talking to, saying that the cats didn’t need my tears; they needed my practical help.  And it was a great way to make cat loving friends, too!  Find out about volunteering here