Wild in the City

New Backyard Attractions:
El Jefe & the Lion King of L.A.

Behind the string of wild animal sightings roaming major urban centers is our destructive appetite for the land and resources of their natural habitats. Thus when a mountain lion takes residency in a public park, or a jaguar is caught on tape close to a highway, it’s urgent to study them before they disappear.
Seeing bears, coyotes, alligators, tigers, and many others is becoming common in American and world cities. But there’s something new about P-22, a puma who lives in L.A., and El Jefe, of Tucson and possibly the only jaguar living in the U.S.: the much we’ve already learned about their incredibly rich individual sagas.

No offense to the remarkable little tiger that roams your living room, but these magnificent cats’ ability to adapt and survive offers invaluable insights into our efforts to slow down the extinction their species and of so many others face. Even if, as it goes, their close proximity also shames us to no end.
The ongoing massive man-made extermination of wildlife, which took evolution millions of years to perfect, is not just a tragedy on a planetary scale; it may also turn out to be the gateway to our own quick demise. Good riddance, some of them would say if they could or were born for that sort of thing.
For too long, developed nations have blamed poor (our apologies, Africa) continents for being lax about natural resources and their native animals. But what the fate of P-22 and El Jefe brings home is the hypocrisy of such an attitude, as it exposes our own lack of commitment for protecting the planet.

CEO OF THE UNDOCUMENTED
The footage of El Jefe, whose name was chosen by students at a Tucson school, was is a highlight in a decades-long program to restore a clear path for jaguars between North and South America. So there was due credit given when a remote camera captured glances of the elusive cat for the first time.
But it also happens during a particular hard time for U.S. immigrants. As a misguided administration engages in mass deportations, it also plans to build a wall at the border with Mexico, which would be disastrous to that recover strategy. That is sad but fitting, though, as El Jefe is believed to be a Mexican by birth too.
How it’ll play out may determine whether current efforts to prevent the extinction of species is headed to success or failure. That’s because any effective preservation strategy has to allocate, and protect, large swaths of land, where they can thrive without human direct interference. And that’s tough.
By the way, tough is also the jaguar bite: 2000 pounds per square inch, which relative to its weight is the stronger than all other cats, and also bears, gorilas and hippos. It can crush a turtle shell and it’s no wonder the Amerindian word Yaguar means ‘he who kills with one leap.’

THE BOSS OF HOLLYWOOD
The case of P-22 is similar in what the cat’s endurance is also the result of a carefully laid out plan to drive up the numbers of a genetically diverse population in the U.S. That’s another component of a successful recovery strategy, as it increases their odds to survival.
Centuries of hunting, inbreeding, and the perils of navigating diminishing wilderness patches squeezed by miles and miles (more)
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Read Also:
* Farewell to a King
* Pachyderm Skills
* Sleep With the Fishes

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Women’s Day

Some Progress on Paper, But Old
Battles Still Need to Be Won Again

Past the first century by four years, the International Women’s Day continues to serve as lamppost to reassess and reaffirm its principles of equality, freedom, and all that. But unless we’re mistaken, we seem to be fighting one too many battles we thought had already be fought.
While the U.S. has renewed the long overdue Violence Against Women Act, both inside it and abroad there’s been no shortage of examples of ingrained prejudice and despicable acts against mothers, wives and daughters. But rejoice: there’s also Malala Yousufzai’s life to celebrate.
It’s been that kind of year. For a few achievements and heroic acts of note, it also brought back a whole struggle,needed to prevent a turning back the clock on women, their reproductive rights, access to education, safety to raise their families, and dignity as human beings. And somehow we wish such reality was not only conditioned to the U.S.
For perhaps not surprisingly, the past 12 months marked a reinforced charge by the Catholic church, through its minions in congress and elsewhere, to restrict even more the inalienable right of a woman to make choices concerning her own body, through a well-heeled campaign of terror and intimidation.
One’d think the church would have been busy coming clean out of the horrific accounts of child abuse in its midst, while restating its self-appointed spiritual mandate, opening its doors to the sex minorities it’s been rejecting for centuries, to the poor, and to those still seeking some kind of emotional rescue. But it’s been far from it.
Through much of the year, religion-affiliated colleges, and health institutions have formed an united front against women, in an attempt to undermine a few decades of improvement in public health that the women’s movement managed to bring to the whole of society. It’s been Continue reading

Lady Parts

The Botched & the Rumored,
the Unwritten & the Plain Bizarre 

It must be that red star that’s devouring a planet. Or the shortest northern summer on record. In just a few weeks, we’ve heard of an amateur who disfigured a century-old painting, a pen found in a woman’s gut, fears that bears like menstrual blood, and nails growing in someone’s head.
We don’t know about you, but it can’t be good when the most uplifting story in the news cycle is the one about a pen that still works after 25 years inside somebody. And that without even discussing the most abysmally ignorant and staggeringly cruel quote of the week, though.
That ‘honor,’ of course, belongs to Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s medieval ideas about women’s anatomy and right to equality. The only benefit that came from that pseudo-controversy was to bring back the issue of reproductive rights as a way to gauge a politician’s real stand. Now, can we go back to tax havens and the destruction of the middle class?
To say that there’s a wave of obscurantism and irrationality threatening to cloud the brightest minds of our time, is not just inaccurate; it’s also to lend too much credence where there’s none. As a society, we already had this debate some three hundred years ago, and it’s settled: speak only if you know everything that’s been ever said about it before. Period.
If there’s one thing that the Enlightenment still speaks volumes about human nature and its innate aim at constantly improve itself, despite even nature, is that it doesn’t really need any magical thinking to do it so. No supernatural beings, no set of beliefs, no ‘spiritual hierarchy’ needed to be followed.
If you don’t know, experiment with it, as many hundreds, thousands of times that it’s needed, until you can retrace your steps and reproduce the same result. Nevertheless, or exactly because of this vast randomness we live in, each time we get it right, there’s no way back.
And the same holds true when what happens lies even beyond our unruly imagination. The proverbial, you can’t make this stuff up. That’s enough to keep us guessing, wondering in awe, no ghosts or apparitions necessary. Which doesn’t mean that one may not see or Continue reading