The mighty Bengal tiger is a true force of nature. This fabulous animal, one of the largest of the big cats faces increasing pressure to survive as all tigers do. Poached for body parts and chinese medicine this magnificent cat is protected in several large reserves in it's natural habitat in India. Ranthambhore National Park attracts thousands of tourists, tiger lovers and photographers from all over the world every year. The place inspired me to paint this image of a male and female who only come together to mate. The female has sole responsibility for raising her cubs. Spotted deer depicted in the painting form a large part of the Bengal tigers diet. Highly territorial and formidable hunters, the males can be 1.5 to 1.8m from head to tail tip and weigh in at around 300kgs sometimes more. Females are significantly smaller at around 200kgs.
This heartwarming reunion between a gorilla returned to the wild and the man who reared him shows so poignantly how animals have memory and emotions. This extraordinary relationship between species seems to illustrate also the tragedy of how cruelly these intelligent and sensitive creatures have been treated. How could you look into the eyes of a gorilla and not feel recognition of a species very like our own.
It's been a long time coming and overdue but China has agreed to a total ban on the import of ivory for 1 year. Finally the message is getting through that if China continues with it's insatiable demand for ivory there will be no elephants in as little as 10 - 15 years. The thought of Africa without elephants is impossible to accept and everything that can be done to stop the relentless slaughter of these magnificent, intelligent and sensitive creatures must be done.
To hunt any animal for glory fun greed or trophy is an obscenity to me. That trophy hunting of lions still goes on despite the statistics that prove their populations have been reduced drastically from hundreds of thousands to well under 50,000 tell a story that cannot be denied. Lions are in trouble so how can it be they are still hunted for the most pathetic of reasons, to satisfy a hunters need to kill the biggest and the best. Such a barbaric and totally unnecessary practice should be stopped in the interests of this magnificent animals very survival. Just as taking from the gene pool the largest and most dominant males of an elephant herd alters the behaviour and breeding patterns of elephants the same is true of lions. Since females need the biggest and strongest males to protect them and ensure the survival of their cubs, if those males are shot, the pride is vulnerable and at risk of perishing. When will humanity learn to respect the lives of the wonderful animal life on this planet and stop treating it like a commodity for them to dispose of. The sad and tragic waste of such beautiful creatures is beyond words for me at times.
The push to reintroduce the now extinct Lynx back into Britian is moving forward. Having been extinct for around 1300 years the plan to introduce them back into selected areas is almost certainly a controversial one. There would be many who would undoubtedly oppose the idea out of fear and ignorance. Those who support the reintroduction of the wolf into areas of America and seen the enormous benefits it has had can testify to the importance of top predators being part of the landscape in terms of biodiversity. The lynx reintroduction can surely only be a positive move in the right direction since it is man that wiped them out of Britian in the first place. I wonder if anyone has put forward the idea of reintroducing the wolf since it has also been wiped out of Britian too. Somehow I think that idea would be met with hostile opposition.
It's not just moggie cats that get dumped. Shelters in the UK are noticing an increase in the numbers of pedigreed cats finding themselves unwanted or abandoned. Why ? Like most pedigreed animals they come with specific behaviour patterns and distinct personalities that don't always fit their families. It shows that people aren't doing their research into the breed and it's inherent attributes, that the cats are being chosen mostly for their looks. Our baby Monty, a Maine Coon is my first pedigreed cat and has proved that his breed has characteristics that are quite different from a domestic mix. Having said that Maine Coons get along with everybody, other cats, dogs, kids, because they have friendly intelligent personalities. Of course I knew that because I researched the breed prior to bringing Monty home. I knew I didn't want a vocal, demanding, super active or highly strung cat because we wouldn't get along. Frankly I wish more people would think before they bring home a new toy because it's not a toy. Any pet is a huge commitment in time, energy, money and attention that they absolutely deserve. Can people really have become so shallow that they only choose a pet for it's looks ? Apparently so. Not long a go I read of a beautiful black and white cat in the US that was given to a shelter because it wasn't fluffy enough. Another example was black cats being given up because they don't photograph well. It's terribly sad that yet again animals bear the brunt of human stupidity.
China must act to bring about the end of the ivory trade and pressure is mounting on the president to do something about his countries insatiable demand. Elephants could disappear from our world in as little as 10 years if nothing is done. The sharp spike in demand has corresponded with Chinas rising wealth and affluence, ivory being considered a huge status symbol of prosperity. Many influential names have added their names to an open letter to the Chinese president, notably Sir David Attenborough appealing for an end to this horrific trade in some of Africas most iconic and majestic animals. A world without elephants is just plain unimaginable. Ordinary people can also do something to help curb demand by refusing to buy any trinkets made of ivory that they want to souvenir from a holiday. If the demand disappears the elephants have a chance but time is running out.