The Kings Head Is Full of Dead Heads

The Kings Head http://www.thekingshead-london.com/  a private members bar in the heart of trendy east London, is full of dead heads, and I’m not just talking about the people who pay to go there. Though one could be forgiven for thinking this too, as whoever pays to be a member of this place thinking that it’s ok to celebrate multiple exotic animals stuffed and hung around the place is beyond me.  Of course I didn’t know about this before I went as someone’s guest late one evening.

I had only just walked into the main floor bar, waiting to order drinks, when I looked up and saw a fully grown male tiger, stuffed, posed, and apparently jumping over the bar in front of me!  At first I thought this must be a joke, who in their right minds would have a real tiger on display like this? In a worldly and educated city like London, where most people realise that tigers are highly endangered, and that it’s mostly the Chinese and Americans who champion owning them as status symbols and exotic pets?

But no, it was unmistakably real.  Dead, but real.  My mind was reeling and it was then that my friends noticed why my face had drained of all it’s colour.  They were deeply apologetic and suggested we go, however I decided to stay and investigate what this place was all about and to document what else was hung on walls here, for the purpose of this blog. And believe me, I didn’t give one more penny to that bartender and left as quickly as I could!

I took my drink and walked up 2 flights of stairs, peeking into the various rooms which are described on their website as “fantastical private rooms.” What I saw was horrifying to me, yet no one else there seemed to be taking any notice.  The heads of exotic rare species were mounted on nearly every wall inside the 4 storey building; with some rooms containing full sized stuffed polar bears, jaguars, apes, tigers, bears, lions, complete with swans and tropical birds ‘flying’ across the ceilings.  As I made my way downstairs to the basement club where a dj was pounding out the tunes, my eyes landed on a large dead ape holding a machine gun over the dance floor.

In total I counted 1 white tiger head and 1 Bengal tiger head both mounted on wood, and 2 full sized stuffed tigers amongst all of the other beautiful animals there.

I know people say “well they were dead already”, or “this fur is vintage so it’s ok to wear it”, or “it was my grandmothers’, I’d never buy one of course!”.  But in my opinion, and this blog is only my opinion, fur is fur.  If you’re celebrating it on a wall, on a stuffed trophy of an animal, on your coat or bag or fur-lined boots, it was still once, a living breathing animal. And you are saying it’s ok to show it off, because now it’s dead.  The thing is, if we all did that we’d be contributing to the mass slaughter of more and more animals, because of supply and demand.  It really does not matter that those beautiful stuffed creatures were dead and bought as decorative purposes for the Kings Head.  The message is still saying we think dead animals are cool, and so should you. 

Well, I don’t. And my friends and I will never go back there, or anywhere that thinks trophy animals are cool. Conservation is cool.

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Bad grass-cutting advice ends in sad consequences in Kanha National Park

I have just returned from India (April 2015), specifically Kanha National Park, where everyone was talking about how some South African “experts on forest management” came in and advised the Madya Pradesh Forest Department to cut the grasses in the Kanha zone of the park.

As a result, the prey animals who use the grasses as fodder were forced to move out of the Kanha zone and into other zones, particularly the neighbouring Mukki zone.

Consequently, the tigers followed their prey from Kanha, moved out of that zone and moved into Mukki zone. As a result of this, when I was there, there were 7 males in Mukki who were fighting for territory, and a tigress trying to protect her four 10 month old cubs.  She was even false-mating with the these males in her best efforts to save her cubs.

All because of grass being unnecessarily cut instead of letting nature take its course.

I have sadly just received this email from a friend in Kanha, who writes:

“There is bad news on the tiger front as 2 of the 4 cubs of the Mahaveer female have been killed by a rival male and their father has also been wounded badly. Looks like he will also die.”

Who are these “experts on forest management” I ask?

Why did the MP Forest Department listen to them and follow through on their advice?

And why can’t humans just leave nature to take it’s course?

 

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tiger bones are medicinal? bogus!

The Independent July 30, 2014

 

Last week I saw Gordon Buchanan present his “Lost Adventures” talk at the Royal Geographic Society, and towards the end he spent some time on the topic of  tigers.  His experiences of filming wild tigers in India was so moving, but I will never forget when he said that it’s “bogus” that the Chinese are using the bones of these beautiful cats in their traditional medicines.  Too right Gordon.

In my opinion, tiger bones are only magical when they’re left inside a living healthy tiger.

The topic of Chinese culture and their abuse of animals, especially for medicinal purposes is one that gets me pretty fired up.  I want to stress that everything I write here are purely my own views, but I am 100% flabbergasted that anyone in this day and age can believe killing any animal, especially a species on the brink of extinction for ‘medicinal’ purposes, is ok.

We have no right to drive animals to extinction.

And it’s not just the Chinese either, the Americans are the 2nd largest consumer of Chinese medicines.  There is even tiger bone wine for £200 a bottle, which is very popular amongst China’s elite and businessmen.

Last year The Independent ran a whole week of articles on tigers.  This particular one from July 30, 2014 sums it all up in the title “Bred For Bones on China’s Tiger Farms”.

The trade in tiger parts was banned in China in 1993, but 12 years later, the demand has not only increased, but tiger farms are legal.  According to this article, “there are more tigers in Chinese tiger farms than exist in the wild in the rest of the world.”

That’s bogus alright!

These animals when in the wild would normally live solitarily in expansive territories; but in China, they are kept 5 or 6 to a cage, literally piled up on each other, starving, kept barely alive purely for their skins and bones to be later sold as an expensive ingredient into wine and medicines.

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Photo courtesy of WSPI / Tiger Time

And in China, the domestic trade of tiger skins is legal if they are from captive bred tigers.  Apparently the more rare and endangered the species, the more coveted these skins are, which has fuelled the illegal poaching of tigers and snow leopards in India, Pakistan and Nepal.  And although China’s younger generations are starting to speak up against these practices, there is still a divide amongst them that if the skins are from tiger farms it’s ok.

As I always say, I believe each and everyone of us CAN make a difference. It goes without saying don’t support these practices by buying any animal skins or parts, especially any on the endangered species list.

Here’s my contribution, no matter how small or naive some may think this is, I have never and will never go to China.  I won’t give them my tourist dollars.

I don’t buy Chinese medicines.

I don’t buy any clothes and shoes made in China anymore – this used to be hard, but living in Europe there are so many other places to get your clothes from – it’s easy! just check the label before buying!

And I’m trying the best I can not to buy anything else made in China, which is pretty hard, but places like Turkey, Portugal, and India are making good alternatives.

 

3 new cubs in Panna tiger reserve

Today my cousin posted on facebook a lovely quote by Nelson Mandela:

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

In this vein, I want to share that starting this blog about tigers and wildlife conservation is massively rewarding and exhilarating for me, but if I’m honest, a little bit scary too.  On one hand there’s the fear of what others will think of my view points, that I may say the wrong thing, that politically some of what I will be posting could get me in hot water, and of course the personal fear that no one will read it!

But on the other hand lies my passion and hope for change, for the opportunity to share good news with my readers, to hopefully demonstrate that each and everyone of us can keep these beautiful big cats where they belong, in the wild.

And so today when I saw this uplifting story from http://tigertime.info/ I wanted to spread my own hope to you.  A tigress known as T-6 was spotted this week with 3 young cubs in Panna Tiger Reserve, MP, India.  This reserve in Madhya Pradesh had lost all of its tigers to poaching back in 2009, but through a reintroduction programme, there are now 26 new tigers in the reserve.

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drugged up and ready to be photographed

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Recently one of my dear friends posted on all channels of social media photos of themselves curled up next to an overweight-female tiger on the cold concrete of a Thai tiger “reserve”. The next photo was of them cooing and stroking the belly of a very young cub, quoting they’re childhood dream had come true!

I was so upset that I actually felt sick to my stomach, and angry, that such a well-traveled, learned, spiritual friend, could support this and brag about it on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

And so here I am, to share with those who may not have considered what these places really are:

– tourist traps taking your money in exchange to be photographed next to a sedated tiger
– perpetuating the seize of wild tigers for human amusement, illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts, and contributing to the tiger farms of Asia
– capturing and raising tigers in captivity, to serve their life sentence in small enclosures for you to pop in and see them on your exotic holidays
– encouraging wild animals to become used to humans, but when they attack a visitor they are condemned, beaten and sometimes destroyed.

And most importantly where do these young orphaned tigers come from to reach the “sanctuary”? From their mothers and fathers being poached, maimed, and murdered for Chinese medicines.  Or those who are born into captivity and hand reared, fed by bottles, handled by tourists, and kept apart from their mothers.

Perhaps it’s worth pointing out then that every time one of you posts a photo of yourself on twitter, facebook, Instagram, dating websites, Tinder, etc, YOU are saying it’s okay to keep these wild creatures in captivity, artificially sedated so they don’t attack you while you snuggle with them, or hug and feed their young cub kept separated by wires, so close that you can see and smell him but you can’t lick him and protect him from all of these humans touching him. He will never have a chance to roam wild, he is doomed to pace his small enclosure until he paces so much he goes insane.  Living a life at the end of a short chain, on concrete floors, instead of roaming for miles through tall grasses, fearing humans and hunting for themselves.

Because THIS is the truth of what happens to these creatures.

Who can believe that any animal in captivity is a happy animal?

According to Wikipedia (March 8, 2015), following an investigation and letters written by numerous NGO’s and animal welfare associations, Tiger Temple “does not have the facilities, the skills, the relationships with accredited zoos, or even the desire to manage its tigers in an appropriate fashion. Instead, it is motivated both in display of the tigers to tourists and in its illegal trading of tigers purely by profit.”

If you care about animal welfare and keeping tigers in the wild, then please DON’T SUPPORT http://www.tigertemplethailand.com

One only has to look at these attached images to show that these animals have no choice, no natural instincts, they are chained up, drugged up, and available for your tourist dollars.

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(Disclaimer:  All of these photos were found on the internet simply by googling Tiger Temple Thailand, all copyrights belong to their rightful owners)