Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frozen Bear To Be Defrosted

The Lifeless body of Canelle isTransported Away by Helicopter.

In November 2004 in the Aspe Valley, the last female brown bear in the Pyrenees of Pyrenean stock (as apposed to the female brown bears introduced from Slovenia), was shot and killed by a hunter while he was out hunting wild pigs.  René Marquèze said he acted in self defence. He later faced trial and had to pay 10 000 Euros in damages to several environmental organistions.

Cannelle (Cinnamon in English) was with her cub which was not physically hurt and escaped. The mothers body was frozen and stored at the National Veterinary School in Toulouse while the judicial enquiry into the cause of her death took place. This did not finish until 2009. Now, the director of the Natural History Museum, also in Toulouse, Francis Duranthon,  wants to defrost the body so that it can be mounted by a taxidermist and displayed to the public.

Make Love, Not Children

There is a new way to save the planet that is creating a bit of a buzz : just say no to kids ! They call themselves GINKs . Green Inclination No Kids. Women who have decided, despite social pressure from friends and relatives, to not have children. Their manifesto is that by not having children they are helping to save the planet by reducing population growth, waste production, resource consumption and CO2 emmissions. Their slogan is 'Say it loud : I am child free and I'm proud.'

As well as helping to save the planet, GINKs rather than being less happy without children may be happier. This 'green lifestyle choice' unlike many, may not involve as much of a sacrifice. This is for a number of reasons.

Although children are a source of happiness, other sources of happiness tend to get crowded out.  Couples who have children discover that bringing them up properly is very hard work and takes up a lot of time and anergy. Time and energy that used to be invested in the couple. New parents find for the first 2 or 3 (18?) years, there is less time and energy for themselves to do other things that used to make them happy.  Less eating out, less cinema visits, less meeting up with friends, less making love.

Not having children also frees up income the couple can spend on themselves. Children are expensive in finacial terms as well as the time and energy that needs to be invested.

Want to read more? Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable by Stefanie Iris Weiss.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Release

A book of my photos, taken while walking and snowshoeing in the Eastern Pyrenees, is now available to buy. The book is called Summer and Winter in the Eastern Pyrenees.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

4 Days Walking With Steve

The end of May saw me put together a 4 day walking trip for Steve from Stoke who flew into Carcassonne from Liverpool . The Orri de Planes which I normally use was not open yet and neither was the Refuge des Camporells so I had to find 2 chambres d'hotes. They were both friendly and looked after us well. I chose walks to suit Steve's fitness level with enough built in flexibility to allow them to be shortened or lengthened depending on how Steve felt on the day.

Day 1 was an excellent example of this. We walked up the Balmeta Valley passing the Balmeta lake and then on through the Llosa Valley and its frozen lakes and snow patches - it being still early in the season. With Steve feeling good  we took the summit option, topping out on the Puig de la Portella Gran. Close to the summit we found Purple Saxifrage (see Record Breaking High Altitude Plants blog entry.) On the descent I saw a Ptarmigan.

Puig de la Portella Gran

Day 2 was a recovery day and I chose to take Steve up to the border with Spain above Osseja. This can be done by car on a forestry track. There was a short walk along the border with plenty of time to relax and cloud watch.

Cloud Watching

Day 3 was spent exploring the Eyne Valley which is world famous for its flowers. Too early in the season to be at its best, there was a fine display of Narcissus and we saw 3 types of Gentianes (Trumpet, Spring and Pyrenean.) As well as a fine display of spring flowers, we saw isard and mouflon. We turned back before the col.


Day 4 was the ascent of Roc Blanc. This was Steve's favourite day. Great alpine scenery - pine forest and lake and 360° views from the summit. 

Looking Toward the Final Col Before the Summit of Roc Blanc

Steve on the Summit of Roc Blanc

The Descent to Lake Laurenti
Had a great few days again with Paul. He produced and adapted an itinerary to suit my needs and abilities to a tee.  The places we stayed were full of character and charm with a really warm welcome. The days suitably challenging but not too much.  Great time - highly recommended - will definitely come again.  Thanks Paul.
Steve  28th May 2011

Bear End?

After 15 years of positively encouraging the survival of the brown bear in the Pyrenees, the French government appears to have taken a step backwards. In early June it announced that there would not be a new release in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques as planned. Pro bear campaigners felt that it was imperative that a female bear was reintroduced in Bearn in the Aspe or OssauIt valleys to replace Franska (herself a reintroduction from Slovenia) killed when she was hit by a car on a busy road in August 2007. Two male bears survive in the area but cannot breed. There are only about 20 brown bears left in the Pyrenees. They do not exist anywhere else in France.

Franska introduced to the Pyrenees from Slovenia (April 2006), killed in a road accident (Aug. 2007.)
Picture from http://www.buvettedesalpages.be/

In the past, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the state secretary for ecology in the Sarkozy government, has made clear her determination 'to restore the population of bears in the Pyrenees in accordance with France's international obligations for biodiversity.' However, earlier this month, she refused to authorise the release of new bear from Slovenia, citing the problems that mountain farmers were facing due to persistant dry weather. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet's  decision goes against that made by her predecessor in July 2010 and appears to be at odds with the Governmen'ts National Strategy For Biodiversity that she herself introduced in May 2011.

The French National Strategy for Biodiversity Logo (May 2011) includes Bear Prints

WWF France announced that the Governments decision was 'disgusting and would have huge consequences for biodiversity.' It added that perhaps with a strong hunting and farming lobby in France, President Sarkozy has one eye on the 2012 Presidential Election.

Mountain farmers were pleased with the decision. They argue that the reintroduction of Slovenian brown bears to boost the population in the Pyrenees and increase the long term viability of the animal, would add to the already considerable difficulties they face. Bears attack and kill their animals.

Cartoon from http://www.buvettedesalpages.be/