99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2018

from Future Crunch at medium.com

For the last 12 months, the global media has been focused on a lot of bad news. But there were other things happening out there too. Good news stories that didn’t make it onto the evening broadcasts, or your social media feeds. We spent the year collecting them, in our ongoing mission to stop the fear virus in its tracks.

Another year of big wins for conservation

Image credit: Carine06/Flickr

1. The Kofan people of Sinangoe, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, won a landmark legal battle to protect the headwaters of the Aguarico River, nullifying 52 mining concessions and freeing up more than 32, 000 hectares of primary rainforest. Amazon Frontlines

2. Following China’s ban on ivory last year, 90% of Chinese support it, ivory demand has dropped by almost half, and poaching rates are falling in places like Kenya. WWF

3. The population of wild tigers in Nepal was found to have nearly doubled in the last nine years, thanks to efforts by conservationists and increased funding for protected areas. Independent

4. Deforestation in Indonesia fell by 60%, as a result of a ban on clearing peatlands, new educational campaigns and better law enforcement. Ecowatch

5. The United Nations said that the ozone hole would be fully healed over the Arctic and the northern hemisphere by the 2030s, and in the rest of the world by 2060. Gizmodo

6. $10 billion (the largest amount ever for ocean conservation) was committed in Bali this year for the protection of 14 million square kilometres of the world’s oceans. MongaBay

Image credit: Our Ocean 2018

7. In California, the world’s smallest fox was removed from the Endangered Species List, the fastest recovery of any mammal under the Endangered Species Act. Conservaca

8. In 2018, after more than ten years of debate, 140 nations agreed to begin negotiations on a historic “Paris Agreement for the Ocean,” the first-ever international treaty to stop overfishing and protect life in the high seas. National Geographic

9. Niger revealed that it has planted 200 million new trees in three decades, the largest positive transformation of the environment in African history. Guardian

10. Spain said it would create a new marine wildlife reserve for the migrations of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean and will prohibit all future fossil fuels exploration in the area. Associated Press

11. Following ‘visionary’ steps by Belize, UNESCO removed the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world, from its list of endangered World Heritage Sites. BBC

12. Colombia officially expanded the Serranía de Chiribiquete (also known as The Cosmic Village of the Jaguars)to 4.3 million hectares, making it the largest protected tropical rainforest national park in the world. WWF

13. Mexico said its population of wild jaguars, the largest feline in the Americas, grew by 20% in the past eight years, and 14 Latin American countries signed an agreement to implement a regional conservation program for the big cats through 2030. Phys.org

14. In the forests of central Africa, the population of mountain gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species, was reported to have increased by 25% since 2010, to over 1,000 individuals. Reuters

15. Canada signed another conservation deal with its First Nations people, creating the largest protected boreal forest (an area twice the size of Belgium) on the planet. BBC

16. Chile passed a new law protecting the waters along its coastline, creating nine marine reserves and increasing the area of ocean under state protection from 4.3% to 42.4% BBC

17. The Seychelles created a new 130,000 square kilometre marine reserve in the Indian Ocean, protecting their waters from illegal fishing for generations to come. National Geographic

18. New Caledonia agreed to place 28,000 square kilometres of its ocean waters under protection, including some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs. Forbes

Some extraordinary new milestones for global health

Image credit: Paul Joseph Brown

19. 25 million doses of a new cholera vaccine were administered globally, and preparations began for the largest vaccination drive in history. UNICEF

20. France revealed a sharp fall in daily smokers, with one million fewer lighting up in the past year, and cigarette useamong Americans dropped to its lowest level since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started collecting data in 1965.

21. Rwanda became the first low income country to provide universal eye care to all of its citizens, by training 3,000 nurses in over 500 health clinics. Telesur

Dr Ciku (Wanjiku) Mathenge performing a standard checkup on a young Rwandan boy. Image credit: Fred Hollows Foundation

22. India registered a 22% decline in maternal deaths since 2013. That means on average, 30 more new mothers are now being saved every day compared to five years ago. The Wire

23. Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma. In 2000, it threatened 2.8 million people (15% of the population) with blindness. Devex

24. The WHO revealed that teenage drinking has declined across Europe, the continent with the highest rates of drinking in the world. The country with the largest decline? Britain. CNN

25. Since 2010, global HIV/AIDS infection rates have fallen by 16% in adults and by 35% for children. Most countries are now on track to eliminate infections by 2030. Undark

26. In 2018, New York and Virginia became the first two US states to enact laws requiring mental health education in schools. CNN

27. Malaysia became the first country in the Western Pacific to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Malaymail

28. South Africa, home to the world’s largest population of people living with HIV, shocked health officials by revealing a 44% decline in new infections since 2012. Telegraph

The late Prudence Mabele, founder and executive director of Positive Women’s Network, who broke ground in 1992 in South Africa by publicly revealing her HIV-positive status. Image credit: PRI

29. After five successful, annual rounds of large-scale, school-based deworming across Kenya, worm-related diseases have fallen from 33.4% in 2012 to 3% today. KEMRI

30. Russians are drinking and smoking less than at any point since the fall of the Soviet Union, with tobacco use down by 20% since 2009, and alcohol consumption down by 20% since 2012. Straits Times

31. Tanzania revealed that in the last ten years, it has reduced the malaria death rate by 50% in adults and 53% in children. Borgen

32. The WHO certified Paraguay as having eliminated malaria, the first country in the Americas to be granted this status since Cuba in 1973.

A kinder, more tolerant planet

Image credit: Daniel Barclay

33. Costa Rica’s Supreme Court ruled that the country’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, and gave the government 18 months to change it. BBC

34. New research revealed that in the last two decades, female genital mutilation has fallen from 57.7% to 14.1% in north Africa, from 73.6% to 25.4% in west Africa, and from 71.4% to 8% in east Africa. Guardian

35. India’s highest court struck down a century-old prohibition on homosexual sex, calling the Victorian-era law “irrational, indefensible, and manifestly arbitrary.” Al Jazeera

36. Morocco passed a landmark law that criminalises violence against women, and imposes harsh penalties on perpetrators. Albawaba

37. Germany released new figures showing that more than 300,000 refugees have now found jobs, and the share of MPs with migrant backgrounds has risen from 3% to 9% in the last two elections. Economist

A Syrian refugee at a German Railway training workshop. Image credit: Quartz

38. New Zealand became the second country in the world (after the Philippines) to pass legislation granting victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave. Guardian

39. Scotland became the first nation in the world to guarantee free sanitary products to all students, and India’s finance ministry announced it would scrap the 12% GST on all sanitary products.

40. Canada became the second country in the world to legalise marijuana. A major crack in the grass ceiling, and a wonderful moment for fans of evidence-based decision making everywhere. BBC

41. In a major milestone for human rights in the Middle East, a Lebanese court issued a new judgement holding that homosexuality is not a crime. Beirut

42. Trinidad and Tobago’s high court ruled that the Caribbean nation’s colonial-era law banning gay sex was unconstitutional. NBC

43. Tunisia became the first Arab nation to pass a law giving women and men equal inheritance, overturning an old provision of Sharia Islamic law. Dhaka Tribune

The moral arc of history bends a little further. Image credit: Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

44. Pakistan’s parliament passed a landmark law guaranteeing basic rights for transgender citizens and outlawing all forms of discrimination by employers.Al Jazeera

45. Scotland became the first country in the world to include teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights into its state schools curriculum. The Scotsman

46. Nepal became the 54th country in the world, and the first country in South Asia, to pass a law banning corporal punishment for children. End Corporal Punishment99 Reasons 2017 Was A Great Year
If you’re feeling despair about the fate of humanity in the 21st century, you might want to reconsider.medium.com

Living standards improved for most people in the world

Image credit: Emilio Morenatti/AP

47. Quietly and unannounced, humanity crossed a truly amazing threshold this year. For the first time since agriculture-based civilisation began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty. Brookings

48. A little perspective. The Economist revealed that global suicide rates have dropped by 38% since 1994, saving four million lives, four times the number killed in combat during the same time.

49. According to the UNDP, 271 million people in India moved out of poverty since 2015, and the country’s poverty rate has been cut nearly in half. Times of India

50. India also continued the largest sanitation building spree of all time. More than 80 million toilets are estimated to have been built since 2014. Arkansas Democrat Gazette

That’s a lot of toilets. Credit: World Bank

51. The International Energy Agency said that in the last year, 120 million people gained access to electricity. That means that for the first time since electrical service was started (1882), less than a billion of the world’s population are left in darkness.

52. A new report showed that the global fertility rate (average number of children a woman gives birth to) has halved since 1950. Half the world’s countries are now below replacement levels. BBC

53. Bangladesh revealed that it had reduced its child mortality rate by 78% since 1990, the largest reduction by any country in the world. Kinder-World

54. Remember how the global media worked itself into a frenzy over Cape Town’s water shortages and Day Zero in 2017? Strangely, nobody reported this year how the Mother City successfully averted the crisis. apolitical

Thanks to an unprecedented collective effort, this warning is now a thing of the past. Image credit: Harold McNiell

55. Respiratory disease death rates in China have fallen by 70% since 1990, thanks to rising incomes, cleaner cooking fuels and better healthcare. Twitter

56. The share of black men in poverty in the United States fell from 41% in 1960 to 18% today, and their share in the middle class rose from 38% to 57% in the same time. CNN

57. A new report showed that democracy is more widespread than ever. Six in ten of the world’s countries are now democratic — a post war record. Pew Research

58. A new global youth survey showed that young people in all countries are more optimistic than adults. Nine in 10 teenagers in Kenya, Mexico, China, Nigeria and India reported feeling positive about their future. Guardian99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year for Humanity
”If it bleeds its leads” isn’t just a saying, it’s a business modelmedium.com

The clean energy transition in action

Image credit: Getty

59. The world passed 1,000 GW of cumulative installed wind and solar power this year. 10 years ago, there was less than 8 GW of solar. Future Crunch

60. Solar and wind continued their precipitous cost declines. In the second half of 2018 alone, the levelized cost for solar fell by 14% and the wind benchmark by 6%. In many parts of the world it’s now cheaper to build new clean energy than it is to keep dirty energy running. BNEF

61. Allianz, the world’s biggest insurance company by assets, said it would cease insuring coal-fired power plants and coal mines, and Maersk, the world’s largest maritime shipping company, said it would begin ditching fossil fuels, and will eliminate all carbon emissions by the year 2050.

62. Repsol became the first major fossil fuels producer to say it would no longer be seeking new growth for oil and gas. Bloomberg

63. California unveiled the most ambitious climate target of all time, with a commitment to making the world’s fifth biggest economy carbon neutral by 2045. NBC

Lentil-eating, latte-sipping, sackcloth-wearing greenies in action. Image NBC

64. China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, revised its renewable energy target upwards, committing to 35% clean energy by 2030. Engadget

65. Chile said it had managed to quadruple its clean energy sources since 2013, resulting in a 75% drop in the average cost of electricity. IPS News

66. The United States set a new record for coal plant closures this year, with 22 plants in 14 states totalling 15.4GW of dirty energy going dark. #MAGA. Clean Technica

67. 11 European nations either closed their coal fleets or announced they will close them by a specific date, including France by 2023, Italy and the UK by 2025, and Denmark and the Netherlands by 2030.

Image credit: CarbonBrief
Image credit: CarbonBrief

68. Some of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, representing more than $3 trillion in assets, and Black Rock, the world’s biggest fund manager, with assets worth $5.1 trillion, said they would only invest in companies that factor climate risks into their strategies. UNFCCC

69. India increased its already massive 2022 clean energy target by 28%. It plans to add 150 GW of wind and solar in the next four years. Clean Technica

70. Ireland became the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament. Guardian

71. Spain committed to shutting down most of its coalmines by the end of the year, after the government agreed to early retirement for miners, re-skilling and environmental restoration. Guardian

These stories all come from our free, fortnightly email newsletter. If you’re interested in getting more news like this in 2019, you can subscribe here.

War, crime and violence continued their inexorable, long term decline

Image credit: Wykop

72. The Journal of Peace Research said that global deaths from state based conflicts have declined for the third year in a row, and are now 32% lower than their peak in 2014.

73. After a decade long effort, Herat, Afghanistan’s deadliest province for landmines, was declared free of explosive devices. Nearly 80% of the country is now mine free. Reuters

74. Following the collapse of ISIS, civilian deaths in Iraq decreased dramatically. 80% fewer Iraqis were killed in the first five months of 2018 compared to last year. Anti-War

75. Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace treaty, signalling the end of a 20 year war, and reuniting thousands of families. BBC

76. Malaysia abolished the death penalty for all crimes and halted all pending executions, a move hailed by human rights groups in Asia as a major victory. SMH

77. Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world in 2012. Murders have decreased by half since then, more than any other nation. Ozy

78. Crime and murder rates declined in the United States’ 30 largest cities, with the murder rate for 2018 projected to be 7.6 percent lower than 2017. Vox

79. Crime falls when you take in millions of refugees too. The number of reported crimes in Germany has fallen by 10%, to the lowest level in 30 years. Washington Post

Really, really, really good looking police (and protestors). Image credit: Reddit

80. Worried about the kids? Youth crime in the Australian state of New South Wales has plummeted in the last 20 years. Vehicle theft is down by 59%, property theft by 59%, and drunk-driving by 49%. ANU

81. Still worried about the kids? In the last generation, arrests of Californian teenagers have fallen by 80%, murder arrests by 85%, gun killings by 75%, imprisonments by 88%, teen births by 75%, school dropouts by half, and college enrolments are up by 45%. Sacbee

82. According to new data from the Department of Justice, the proportion of people being sent to prison in the United States has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years. Pew Research

An economy that doesn’t cost the earth…

Image credit: Plug’n’Drive Ontario/Flickr

83. Damn those pesky millenials. A new report revealed that, thanks to shifting tastes amongst those born after 1980, 70% of the world’s population is reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether. Forbes

84. Germany announced one of the most ambitious waste management schemes in history. The government plans to recycle 63% of its total waste within the next four years, up from 36% today. DW

85. The Malaysian government announced it would not allow any further expansion of oil palm plantations, and that it intends to maintain forest cover at 50%. Malaymail

86. Denmark became the latest country to announce a ban on internal combustion engines. There are now 16 countries with bans that come into effect before 2040 — including China and India, the two biggest car markets in the world. Bloomberg

87. In 2018, the world surpassed the 4 million mark for electric vehicles. In the world’s biggest car market, China, electric cars reached 5% of sales; China’s internal combustion car market is flat, with all growth now being absorbed by EVs. Bloomberg

88. Adidas expects to sell 5 million pairs of shoes made from ocean plastic this year, and committed to using only recycled plastic in its products by 2024. CNN

89. Four years ago, China declared a war on pollution. It’s working. Cities have, on average, cut concentrations of fine particulates in the air by 32%. New York Times

90. Thanks to tightening restrictions, the United Kingdom reported a 12% drop in vehicle emissions since 2012, as well as significant overall drop in air pollutants. BBC

…and a turning point in the global effort to reduce plastic waste

Beating the bag, in Holland. Image credit: voor de wereld van morgen

91. 250 of the world’s major brands, including Coca Cola, Kellogs and Nestle, agreed to make sure that 100% of their plastic packaging will be reused, recycled or composted by 2025. BBC

92. The European Parliament passed a full ban on single-use plastics, estimated to make up over 70% of marine litter. It will come into effect in 2021. Independent

93. As of the end of 2018, at least 32 countries around the world now have plastic bag bans in place — and nearly half are in Africa. Quartz

94. China said it had seen a 66% reduction in plastic bag usage since the rollout of its 2008 ban, and that it has avoided the use of an estimated 40 billion bags. Earth Day

95. India’s second most populous state, Maharashtra, home to 116 million people, banned all single use plastic (including packaging) on the 23rd June this year. Indian Express

96. India’s environment minister also announced the country would eliminateall single-use plastic by 2022. Oh, and three years after India made it compulsory to use plastic waste in road construction, there are now 100,000 kilometres of plastic roads in the country.

Image credit: BulldozAIR.com

97. Four years after imposing a 5p levy, the United Kingdom said it had used 9 billion fewer plastic bags, and the number being found on the seabed has plummeted. Independent

98. Following a ban by two of its biggest retailers, Australia cut its plastic bag usage by 80% in three months, saving 1.5 billions bags from entering the waste stream. NY Post

99. After enacting the world’s toughest plastic bag ban, Kenya reported that its waterways were clearer, the food chain is less contaminated — and there are fewer ‘flying toilets.’ Guardian

… and one last one, just for luck (our favourite story of the year, and the subject of this article’s cover photo)

100. There is now a giant 600 metre long boom in the Pacific that uses oceanic forces to clean up plastic, and you can track its progress here. Despite a few early setbacks, the team behind it thinks they can clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the next seven years. Ocean Cleanup


If we want to change the story of the human race in the 21st century, we need to change the stories we tell ourselves.

Christmas Bells are Ringing!

On Sunday, December 16 at 4pm and 7pm, the Many Bays Band & Many Bays Choir will be performing a selection of Christmas songs from traditional to contemporary at the Harrison Memorial Church. 🎵🎶  This year, a story will be narrated and woven through the entire concert!

Admission by donation at the door with proceeds going to the Harrison Church Maintenance Fund.

 

Kootenay Lake Chamber of Commerce Elects a New Executive Board – Meeting Tonight!

Elections held at the Monday November 19th KLCC AGM resulted in a new executive board:

President –Ron Mondor of Destiny Bay Resort and Grocers

Vice-President – Richard Bertram of Kokanee Springs Resort

Secretary – Terry Taylor-Topp of Yasodhara Ashram

Treasurer – Janet Wallace of Barefoot Handweaving

Our sincere thanks goes to our Past President, Gina Medhurst who lead our chamber for the past five years and held the position of Secretary for six years prior to that.  Gina’s hard work and dedication to the East shore business community and representing us regionally and provincially has been pivotal in establishing recognition to the outside world.  Leading by example, she has exemplified that our communities are not only a great place to visit but to live, work and raise a family.  Thanks again Gina, you have left big shoes to fill.

Our next meeting will be held Monday December 10 at 7pm at Kokanee Springs (Meeting Room).  Come out and meet the new executive, see what’s happening for 2019, meet other Chamber members and welcome new members.

Sincerest wishes for a very joyous holiday season with family & friends and a healthy & prosperous new year!

 

East Shore Transportation Fund Needs YOU!

This bus could be driving around the East Shore, picking up people to take them to the ferry, going to Nelson and Creston for a day each week, taking people from Riondel to the clinic, and driving visitors and locals around to see some of our sights and experiences, or taking groups of locals to events and festivals off the shore.

If you can imagine this and more, and if you support this idea of getting a community bus on the road, then we need your help!  A savings account has been established, thanks to the East Shore Advocacy Society, at the Nelson and District Credit Union.  We have until November 30 to raise the $3000 which is the selling price set by Valley Services in Creston.

We have a generous donation from a Riondel resident, and $500 has gone into  Valley Services as a deposit.  So we need $2500 ASAP and another two or three thousand to maintain the vehicle for the first year or two.  Garry Jackman is recommending $1,000 of public funds to the organization who would like to own, and insure the vehicle.  Insurance costs are approximately $1500-2000/year, depending on the driver’s record.

The specs: 2001 Ford Econoline E 350, diesel, CVW 4550, 7.3 litre, 8 cyclinder, automatic, RWD, 4 wheel ABC, capacity: 11 people, 345,000 km.  Drivers need a Class 4 (unrestricted), medical test, and clean commercial driving record (less than 4 points).

What can you do?   Make an investment in the community bus- take a deposit to the East Shore branch of NDCU  or put it in the night deposit box.  Mark on it “transportation fund” , East Shore Advocacy Society.  If you want to be recognized as an investor/donor please tell them to put a note on the deposit so we can keep track. If you would like to be anonymous, not a problem, don’t mention the note.  DO THIS NOW!

Whatever the amount you can donate is great, I rolled up my coins, and Dave is cashing in his bottle collection to make a donation.  We have only a few days left, and Valley Services has been very kind, they really want us to have this bus, as they know about our transportation issues, through our Better at Home partnership.  THERE is a deadline of November 30, 2018.

If you are an investor, you can join the little management team, there are three of us right now.  We will be setting things up in the spring, once we raise the money, and bring the bus home!  Let me know if you are interested in this. We will also need volunteer drivers at first (per km. Mileage paid), and an excellent phone system to have on the bus.

For questions, concerns please contact:  Laverne Booth at eslearningplace@gmail.com or facebook/messenger to talk.

Voting System Referendum Deadline Approaching – Nov 30, 2018

Referendum deadlines approaching

Return your voting package to Elections BC by 4:30 p.m. on November 30.

Elections BC is reminding voters that key deadlines in the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform are fast approaching: the deadline to request a voting package is midnight on November 23, and the deadline to return your voting package to Elections BC is 4:30 p.m. on November 30.

Eligible voters that haven’t received a voting package can ask for one:

· Online: elections.bc.ca/ovr

· By phone: 1-800-661-8683 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

· In person: At a Service BC Centre or Referendum Service Office (find a location: elections.bc.ca/rso)

Elections BC must receive completed voting packages by 4:30 p.m. on November 30, 2018. This means that voters cannot put their voting package in the mail on November 30 – it must be received by Elections BC by that date. Completed voting packages can also be returned in person at a Service BC Centre or Referendum Service Office.

Voters should return their completed voting package soon to ensure it is received by the deadline, and to give enough time to make corrections if necessary. Elections BC will contact voters if their returned package is missing required information.

The Duvets Do The 90’s!

Join the East Shore’s own – THE DUVETS (A Cover Band) – on Saturday, November 17th at the Gray Creek Hall as they cover the music of the 1990’s!

With a three piece band (Kenji Fukushima, Jose Loria Triay and Zyan Fukushima-Rael) keeping the beat and filling the hall with dirty licks and emo kicks, come and watch your friends and neighbours try their hand at rock star-dom. Singers include (in order of appearance): Ali George, Alexis Philips, Farley Cursons, Tina Cradock-Henry, Ingrid Baetzel, Marie Bertrand (from Nelson), Ryan Davis, Robby (Roots!) Marcheterre, Zoe Zaiss-Baetzel, Lea Belcourt, Sarah Loeppky, Kevin McBride and Galadriel Rael.

Cost is $15 – adults, $10 – 12-18 year olds and under 12 is free.

Doors open at 8, show starts around 9pm.

DD service available – please be responsible and don’t drink and drive. The DD Service will even take your car home for you! There’s no reason not to be safe and have fun!

 

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day Service in Riondel

submitted by Deberah Shears

This past May, my husband and I visited WW1 memorial sites in northern France and Belgium.  Words can hardly describe the emotional impact of these memorials;  I would like to describe two.

In Ypres, Belgium, we visited the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in WW1 and whose graves are unknown.  Every evening since 1928 (with some exceptions during WW2) at 8 pm a solemn, silent and respectful crowd gathers to listen to The Last Post.  I had found a concrete post to stand on so that I could see and ended up sharing it with a lady from Germany who, like I, mourned those who had died.  This was an experience I will never forget.

At the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, we were both overwhelmed with the magnificent memorial itself which took 11 years to build and which can be seen from a long distance away.  This memorial is a 250 acre preserved battlefield park that encompasses a portion of ground over which the Canadian Corps made their assault during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  France ceded this park to Canada on the understanding that Canada use the land as a park and a memorial.

Every year, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we remember those who died serving their country at a Remembrance Day Service.

The Many Bays Community Band and the Many Bays Singers are facilitating this service on Sunday, November 11, 2018, at the Riondel Community Centre, starting at 10:40 am. 

Following the service, the Riondel Seniors Association is providing a light luncheon for a small donation.  Everyone is welcome to attend.

Earl Pfeiffer, Local Cheetah Owner, Answers Your Questions

Mainstreet asked some questions of Earl Pfeiffer, the man who cares for two cheetahs and has been apoealing to have them kept on location on the East Shore in Crawford Bay. Below are the questions and Pfeiffer’s responses.

Was the cheetah spotted in the summit between Crawford Bay and Kootenay Bay your cheetah?

As far as I am aware, with one exception we know of, we are the only private cheetahs owners in North America.

Did you get her back? 

Both Annie and Robin are safe and sound and always have been. When an animal loves you, there is no need to capture it. Annie and Robin stay because they want to. You may not know it but cheetahs can “chirp” exactly like a bird. They use this signal for various communication but mostly to find each other without attracting the attention from other predators. Separating Robin and Annie from us or each other leads to a lot of chirping or bang on a dinner pan and a cheetah comes running.

Pop quiz: What is a cheetah’s two most favourite foods? Answer: ice cream and scrambled eggs (not together). Mostly they must have a very lean diet of less than 3% fat meat with vitamins and minerals added. Cheetahs are the super athletes of the animal world. In the wild they eat from a kill only once and suffer a get deal of kleptoparasitism because they are almost completely indefensive. They have very small teeth, small jaws and, jaw pressure, and claws that are only good for running so nearly any animal in Africa can steal their lunch, and do. They are very good hunters, the best in the cat world.

Where are the cheetahs now?

Annie and Robin live legally in Ontario at this time.

Many people seem bothered by these animals being in this climate. Can you explain why you feel it’s okay?

That is our most FAQ. After 6 years, I can tell you with no uncertainty that cheetahs have no problem surviving or thriving in a cold climate. Even in Africa and many of the deserts where they live, temperatures get below 0 at night. From that point it is merely personality. Annie loves the snow and cold and would spend all day running around. Robin loves his nice warm bed. They have always had and will continue to have the choice to be outside or in their heated area. They never spend a night outside. Climate is not the problem. Trees and rocks are the problem. When a cheetah is pursuing a prey animal it is completely fixed on that animal and NOTHING can change them. Prey animals have the advantage of making split second turns that the cheetah must follow. At pursuit speeds any mistake could mean a cheetah hitting a fixed object travelling at well over 50 mph. It is horrible to witness and usually fatal. Please watch this incredible 7 minute video done by Nat Geo of cheetah Tommy T, who I have seen run at the Cincinnati Zoo. Notice how his head never moves:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THA_5cqAfCQ

If we get the permits to have Annie and Robin here, we hope everyone in the area will take the time to meet them. We will have them out for walks every day and we do run Annie as much as we can. We use two electric lure machines, one that goes 35 miles another and another that does 70 miles an hour. It is a sight to behold. Ricky our dog can run about 24 miles an hour. That is just a fast trot for Annie. She loves to pick on poor Ricky. Think of her as a house cat who has an attitude about the house dog. Whenever Ricky turns his back, she just can’t help herself. Only she weighs 95 pounds. Ricky is far stronger and has bigger teeth and a bigger jaw and more jaw strength but Annie is queen. Ricky’s greatest joy is chasing his rubber ball. Annie’s greatest joy is running after a rubber ball. His rubber ball.

Can you explain why you feel that keeping them in captivity is important?

The cheetah is doomed. They will be gone from the wild no later than 2027. My calculation is 2024. There will be a few in parks and marginal areas but that is it. That leaves roughly 1700 in captivity around the world. Remembering here that HUMANITY is the single reason they are going extinct, should we then let them all die? This is not God deciding this or Darwin. This is human apathy. If our planet was as important to us as our cell phones, this place would be in great shape. Cheetahs are hard wired for about 50% of their behaviour. They know how to run after an animal, they know automatically how to clamp on the neck to kill it. Then there are things they learn from their mother. Like that they can’t kill a full size ostrich. If we can keep them from complete extinction, there is no reason not to believe that someday they can be reintroduced to the wild.

Al Oeming took cheetahs around to schools in the 1970’s and every person who ever saw his cheetah (he named them all Tawana) never forgot a single detail of that day.

Look, if I said I was going to do a presentation on cheetah conservation and would have a life sized stuffed toy cheetah there for everyone to see, would you come? If I said that I was going to do a presentation on cheetah conservation and would have two live cheetahs and everyone would get to see them run at top speed. Would you come? These animals are real and they are really dying off.

We do have programs in progress I think people will very much like. We are hoping to have students collect money for GPS collars that can be sent to Africa to help cheetah researchers. If we are right, we are hoping the students who do that will be able to track their cheetahs on their own computers anytime they want. That’s the idea. Each collar costs over $5000.

Do you live in Crawford Bay now?

Yes, I live here. I spent a huge amount of money building an enclosure area for the cats (though they do need walks and runs each day outside) and I stay to fight the government while Carol looks after the cats. And yes, I had to build the enclosures before we could even apply for permits. And get vet checks. And get insurance. For each application. And each time the Director would find a reason to say no. Once in the Ministry of Appeal hearing room, her comments, all under oath become record and she definitely ran out of reasons. Cheetahs represent all animals on earth. We have now lost our Ghost Caribou. The Mountain Caribou are next and so on and so on.

We do want to stay here. I believe in my heart that Crawford Bay is the right place for Robin, Annie, Carol, Ricky (our cheetah dog) and me. We want to go to schools as far reaching as we can drive and make Annie and Robin valued members of this community.

Why haven’t you communicated with the community until now? People have expressed that they wished  that you had reached out earlier and gotten folks on side with you and educated them, or at least informed them about these animals in the area.

This is a good question and I must put this one on my shoulders. I do not trust the media and I am a fairly quiet and private person, none of which translates well in building support. Having said that, I reached the end of my rope in that Ministry Appeal Room having to spend 3 days with the very people killing our environment. That is very poisoned air and a mentality I could NOT understand. My lawyer leaned over more than once and said: “Stop rolling your eyes like that.”

I know this must seem silly but ALL we started out to do was take two cheetahs to schools so children could see them and maybe we could raise awareness of the need for our environment. Instead, this has turned into a mission, a march through hell. It would have been far cheaper for the tax payers if the Director of Wildlife just hired a hitman. The people in that appeal room all cared about a lot of things, none of them to do with the environment.

We just wanted to do a small thing. Do you know the story of the boy and the starfish? All we wanted to be able to say is “we made a difference to that one.” We didn’t have grandiose dreams, just a small idea.

It’s a bit unclear in the letter… Have you lost the cheetahs or the right to keep them in captivity just here in Crawford Bay, or in the Kootenays in general – in BC? Do you intend to appeal? Is the decision final?

We cannot have them anywhere in BC at this time. The animals laws in BC are the most stringent in Canada due to the death of one person in 2007. Final written submissions to the Ministry of Environment Appeal Board are due November 7th. We have already submitted ours. The single chairperson for the Appeal Board makes the final ruling. After that, depending on what has been said and done, it would have to go to a court of law but based on what is now evidence and public record, our chances would be much better. We would prefer the Ministry to shoulder this at this point since it would end up going back to them anyways.

Crawford Bay Cheetah Owner Responds

Letter to the Editor

October 1st, after waiting more than 2 years I spent 3½ days in a room in Nelson, BC with the BC Environment Appeals Board asking the Director of Wildlife to give us a CAS (Controlled Alien Species) permit to take our two cheetahs to schools so children could see them before the cheetah become extinct sometime around 2024.

This is what I knew and what I learned.

Earl and Robin

An ambassador acts as a bridge between people and the world. When you can see an animal and touch it, it becomes real. The cheetah is an excellent representative of all animals remaining on earth and they were the very first animal to be coined an “Ambassador” because of their enduring relationship between the wild animal population and people. There is no record of a wild cheetah killing or even attacking a human in 4000 years.[1] This is the reason we chose them to help us with our message.

The cheetah will be extinct in the wild sometime in 2024.[2] There are about 6000 left and we are losing them at 1000 per year. 100% of the cause of the extinction of the cheetah can be summed up in one word: Apathy. It could be reversed. These animals are dying because of us. Only one thing will help the cheetah – or any animal – people who care and provide hands on help. “Leaving them in the wild” is not an option.

So humans have scheduled the cheetah for extinction in the wild sometime in 2024. That will leave a worldwide captive population of about 1700 animals in zoos and sanctuaries to carry on the species.[3]

Our two cheetahs, Annie and Robin, came from licensed breeders in Africa and as such under CITES regulations are not considered Appendix 1 animals but rather Appendix 2.[4] They had no effect on the wild population. Sometime in the next year wild cheetahs will move from “Vulnerable” to “Endangered”. As they lose more and more habitat and their remaining areas become fractionalised the cheetah will continue to decrease in numbers. I am afraid that unless they can change their spots for stripes and become Pandas, extinction is coming.

And to see our cheetahs will cost the young people of BC almost nothing, unlike the $16 million dollar Pandas paid for by the Alberta taxpayers. And Annie and Robin will come to them. The Pandas were brought to Calgary to increase tourism. We want Annie and Robin to increase awareness.

It matters what people do. Robin’s father was a cheetah named Byron and was for 15 years the most famous cheetah in Africa. It was estimated he was seen by 150,000 school children in his lifetime.[5] That is important to me because the more people that can see and touch a real animal and know they are more than a picture in a book or a video on TV, the greater the odds more people will help.

If you have young children, the odds of them ever seeing a real cheetah are almost zero. Zoos have stopped keeping this animal among their stock due to their fragile nature, expensive vet bills, and the fact that for good health they need to leave their enclosures every day for proper mental and physical stimulation. As well, cheetahs do not breed easily in captivity; the only cheetah that will breed is a happy one. It must be understood that zoos live in a quicksand of bureaucracy and constant fear of litigation so the vast majority of captive cheetahs live in cages their entire lives. This is a major hurdle as zoos struggle to transform from animal entertainment parks to conservation and educational centers but can’t overcome the major obstacle that will keep zoos from becoming extinct: People don’t want to see animals in cages. There are currently only 2 cheetahs in the western half of Canada, at the Vancouver Zoo.

Cheetahs are both amazing and fragile. They suffer from many genetic conditions that make it a challenge to keep even the captive population from perishing. Specifically, cheetahs suffer from a condition called Amyloidosis.[6] This means there is a protein meant to pass through a cheetah digestive system that instead collects and attaches to various organs eventually causing symptoms such as gastritis (the number 1 killer of captive cheetahs), and renal and organ failure. The most disturbing feature of this disease is that it does not occur in wild populations. It is only found in captive cheetahs. Keeping a cheetah alive and happy (both of which are necessary to keep the protein from collecting) is a monumental commitment both in time and money. Different cats develop different levels of this disease but all captive cheetahs have it to some degree. The important part is to keep them active and happy. Keeping a cheetah happy and fit requires lots of work and time, which Annie and Robin get. If cheetahs become extinct in the wild, keeping the captive population happy and healthy needs to become a major priority, remembering that this may be the population that keeps the cheetah from total extinction.

I am often asked how cheetahs would survive in our climate. The answer is simple – they do it as well as their nearest genetic cousin, the cougar. In fact, the only two big cats in the world that can purr are the cheetah and the cougar. Robin and Annie grow winter coats each year. The problem is not temperature. As the world’s only pursuit cat, Cheetahs live in deserts and Savanah because there is minimal vegetation and detritus on the land to interfere with their pursuit. They were once widely spread, including North America, but slowly lost range over millions of years.

Robin in the lead on a snow-day walk with Annie behind him.

Robin had lost about 90% of his vision due to a virus by the time he was about 12 months old but is very independent.

The government does not want people using Ambassador Animals in schools and other venues to talk about conservation and education.

So, what is the real reason?

Ironically, every year people in North America are killed by cows, pigs, horses and dogs among other domestic animals but those animals not “dangerous” by government standards and nothing is done to mitigate this risk. Wild animals, both indigenous and exotic have no value so they are considered dangerous.

BC makes millions of dollars each year from both hunting and entertainment animals. Thousands of hunting permits are sold, and permits are given to companies to bring animals into BC for TV and movies. Allowing people to use Ambassador Animals to discuss the need for conservation has no dollar value to the government. I have no serious war against hunting or animals in TV and movies. I am not a vegetarian or animal rights activist. I don’t love or hate zoos. All I am asking is to have the right to let children see and understand that animals are both real and necessary for our survival. Seeing a cheetah in real life is something no one ever forgets.

In BC this year you can find a government culling wolves for killing big horn sheep while at the same time opening up a hunting season for big horn sheep.[7] And if Annie and Robin were movie animals I could get permits to have them here. If money is involved, it seems public safety and animal welfare becomes secondary concerns. Two years ago, they allowed a 600lb tiger into downtown Vancouver behind an 8 foot, free standing fence for a TV shoot. This fence would have fallen over if the tiger leaned on it. He is twelve feet tall on two legs and can jump 15 feet straight up in the air. I know this tiger personally having worked beside him for a year at another facility. I am not against this. I am sure Sinbad found all of this very interesting, better than sitting around all day. When you are a 600lb tiger, you don’t get rattled easily. What I want is equal consideration given to the values of conservation and education.

600lb tiger behind free standing 8 ft. fence in downtown Vancouver, Feb 2016 met public safety standards according to the Director of Wildlife. This application was approved in 4 weeks with no PAC recommendations. Photo credit: YVR Shoots.

After three days in this Appeal Board hearing room, my lawyer, who normally defends serious crime allegations, leaned over to me and said: “I have never seen the government spend more on a case than this one.”

The Director of Wildlife brought witnesses from Africa, the US and Canada to stop me from taking our two cheetahs to schools. They flew at least 8 people just from Victoria. They brought the clerk from the CAS office in Victoria who waited two days to testify under oath that she was the clerk from the CAS office. Like every other application, our current location in Crawford Bay has been determined an “urban setting unsuitable for dangerous wildlife”. There are 350 people living in Crawford Bay. But what would be the point of reminding the Appeal Board that nearly every zoo in the world is in the middle of a city? And that there are wild cougars roaming here in Crawford Bay?

In those six years and until the first day of my Appeal, I had never spoken to a single member of the government, never been asked any questions, and most certainly never had anyone from the government actually come see Robin or Annie. I had, in the past, requested meetings with the government (evidence of which was entered in the Appeal), but which were ignored.

Now they had witnesses testifying from all over the world in a case they spent 2 years preparing. I knew the outcome was a forgone conclusion before I walked into that room on the first day.

I have a simple belief: “A drop of water can’t stop a forest fire but the rain can.” In the forest one day a fire started. All the animals ran to the river bank and safety to watch the fire destroy their home. All except one hummingbird who flew back and forth from the river carrying a few drops of water each time to put on the fire. The other animals screamed and yelled for the humming bird to stop, that it was doing no good. Finally, one animal yelled: “what do you think you are doing?” The hummingbird simply said: “I am doing what I can” and continued on.

Yup, what I am doing might be nothing, but my nothing is better than nothing. I am retired, I am lousy at golf, and I love animals and want to give something back to a world that was pretty good to me.

Though I felt the decision was predetermined before I walked into the Appeal Board room I got my opinion voiced and on the record and expert testimony recorded that refuted many of the Ministry’s accusations.

After two of the world’s leading cheetah experts, one of them a witness for the Crown, gave expert evidence under oath that cheetahs have never killed anyone and are a “flight animal”, my lawyer and I spent the next 2 days listening to question after question put forward by the government dealing with public safety.

After expert testimony by her own witness, the Director of Wildlife sat in the Appeal room on the fourth day as the last person to testify and read into the record a line she penned from the last permit application she declined: “I conclude that by defining cheetahs as prohibited species individuals Government has determined that cheetahs are one of the most dangerous species of wildlife.”

In 2008, Minister of the Environment Barry Penner, who proposed these laws to prohibit dangerous animals stated during the second reading of the bill:

“These incidents show that some alien species need to be regulated, if they are a threat to public safety.”

And

“Not all controlled alien species will be treated the same but will be managed according to their level of risk.”

It is important to understand why the cheetah is a great Ambassador. The cheetah, Acinonyx Jubatus, lives in its own genus due to the fact that cheetahs cannot fully retract their claws, thus making their paws more like a dog’s and limiting the cheetah’s attack (they cannot tear or grip flesh like other large carnivores) and have limited climbing capabilities compared to members of the Panthera like the tiger and lion. Cheetahs are in fact half dog and have many dog-like traits. While it was noted by the Crown that it is dangerous having large cats in proximity to people, the Crawford Bay area has always had a resident cougar population who have fully retractable claws, bigger teeth and greater jaw strength. (I have worked with cougars in the past.) As I explained previously though BC Conservation Officers destroy a large number of cougars every year, only one person in all of Canada is killed by a cougar every 10 years.

Being very clear about this: The Director of Wildlife had her own expert witness, Dr. Laurie Marker who has 40 years of cheetah experience testify on public record, under oath, just 2 days earlier that no one has ever been killed or even attacked by a wild cheetah. Our expert witness also testified to this fact.

So, this is the really important part:

The Director chose to ignore evidence and testimony given under oath, on record, before this BC Appeal Board by her own expert witness. The Director of Wildlife perverted her own definition of the law to suit her needs and even in the face of overwhelming testimonial and written evidence believes she can elevate her authority to a level that cannot be contested and that that authority will be translated by her Ministry into a final decision.

She did also in my last declined application use unlawfully obtained evidence to reach yet another conclusion regarding my potential non-compliance with the Wildlife Act. Even though this was evidence not lawful in court, the Director felt she was investigator, judge, jury and executioner of a case already dismissed by the courts. She elevated that decision above the authority of the courts.

She is wearing the Emperor’s new clothes, no one is going to argue, and we are not in a court of law.

Worst of all may be that if the Director finds her prima facie argument of public safety fettered and chained by common sense, reality, evidence, and testimony, she will depend on the board to elevate any other secondary objections to a status of ruling the decision in her favor. If she is disarmed of her arguments of public safety and animal welfare, it will become critical I am not a recognised educational institution or that a single breach of compliance is enough to convict a man (I haven’t even had a speeding ticket since 2004 and realised on the first day of the hearing it was the first time I had ever been in a court of any type), or that I am not compliant with the rigorous and unrealistic safety standards or wish to belong to a massive and failing bureaucratic animal exhibition group whose standards I already far exceed – or possibly it could be that they deny my application because I want to house the cheetahs in the sprawling urban mass of downtown Crawford Bay.

And until then no one had ever asked me how you would recapture an escaped Ambassador cheetah – a highly technical and dangerous process which requires banging on the side of their dinner bowl with a fork until they come home. It gives a person a sore wrist. Chasing a cheetah is like a roadrunner cartoon. You don’t need to capture this animal if you have a relationship with it. It lives in a home where it is happy. Cheetahs form very strong bonds with people. They love people. I don’t want to tell people, I want to show people.

Stripped of genuine answers, I was left wondering why the government was doing all of this.

What is the real reason?

  1. Cheetahs are clearly not dangerous. Now that evidence is public record.
  2. The well-being of our two animals is without equal. Our cats walk and run each day outside their enclosures and will continue to do so.
  3. I know enough about the problems to speak to children about the need for conservation.

Carol and Annie.

What is the real reason?

Each of my applications took on average 8 months to process. Each was sent to a PAC who worked for the government or has strong reasons to follow government policies. We were shocked in application #5 when the CAZA (Canadian Accreditation of Zoos and Aquariums) PAC member actually stated in writing that provided we followed all rules and regulations he did not think this would be a bad idea. He not only retired from the PAC a month later, but from CAZA itself and the Vancouver Aquarium. The CAZA Associate Director took the PAC seat wrote a dissenting report on my final application.

When asked if she had ever approved an application the BCSPCA PAC member disdainfully said under oath: “We don’t approve any applications.”

The Conservation Officer Service PAC member also did little research and submitted a copy of the Crawford Bay School bus schedule and a dozen pictures of the golf course as their evidence. (I photo-shopped a picture of Annie chasing a school bus down the road in front of the golf course and put it on my wall.)

None of the PAC members did any research or asked us any questions. The Provincial Vet said previously in her opinions that she was under no obligation to do any research and firmly stated under oath that it could not be indicated how we would be able to look after Annie and Robin’s particular health needs. This is despite the fact that we presented vet certificates of health with each application and that Robin and Annie are 6 years old and in good health.

After 6 years of having a relationship with Annie and Robin, I can firmly state that living with cheetahs is advanced parenting. Both of them have genetic disorders of various types and cheetahs are a nervous and cautious animal that takes hours of time each day to care for properly – and we do. Every day is a new day with a big cat.

I would rather save my message for children. Annie and Robin are living miracles on earth. The world’s fastest animal. They love people in a way that is positive and connecting. To even see them is to be amazed. I started out in all this to give something back to the community. I am neither brave nor strong. I have come to a place now 6 years later where I am doing this because I feel I have no choice. Young people deserve better, both from our government and the world.

As I left the Appeal room on the final day, the Director of Wildlife leaned over to me and said: “I really believe you love Annie and Robin.”  Shocked, I muttered a thank you and walked out but was left with the gut wrenching knowledge that someone was smiling when they killed me.

Now as I near the end of all this I am still plagued by the question:

What is the real reason?

We still don’t know for sure. Canada is a free country and everyone is entitled to their opinion about what I am trying to do. Ideally the government should work to maintain fairness and equality. What the government should not do is fabricate and twist policy and then hold it up as law in order to stay on the path of least resistance. If Canadians must obey the law as it is written so must the government. When there is strong evidence that a government is serving only itself, it is our duty to stand up.

Children are hope. We have left them a real mess to clean up. Maybe we can help just a little bit?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheetah

[2] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/12/cheetahs-extinction-endangered-africa-iucn-animals-science/

[3] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/cheetah-population-worldwide-important-facts-and-figures.html

[4] https://www.cites.org/eng/disc/text.php#VII

[5] http://dewildt.co.za/our-ambassadors/

[6] https://nationalzoo.si.edu/center-for-species-survival/investigating-aa-amyloidosis-prevalence-cheetahs

[7] https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bighorn-sheep-open-hunt-predator-cull-bc-1.4845480