Time To Get Serious About Wildlife

Reading the UN News can make you cry sometimes. Today another article puts on record the illegal wildlife trade.  As rhinos are slaughtered their numbers dwindle and many of our large mammals may soon disappear off the face of the Earth if we don’t get real serious putting a stop to it.

I write this today in memory of a baby black rhino named Maalim that was rescued by the Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project after it’s mother was brutally killed and her horn cut off.  Save World Draw visited Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project in Kenya shortly after they rescued Maalim and I just fell in love with this unbelievable animal, cute as can be. Rhinos have lived in this this region long before man invaded its territory.  Save World Draw, along with many others, sponsored Maalim for about two years until he died from a disease. He was just too weak to fight it off.  This picture taken by Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project is of Maalim playing with his little mattress that he would throw over his back to snuggle down for the night. Maalim, you are not forgotten and may you rest in peace.

Today, March 3, 2015, is World Wildlife Day, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talked about illegal wildlife trade and how it degrades ecosystems. The UN General Assembly in 2013  adopted an agreement on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Too late to save Maalim who if raised my his mother in the wild would have had much better chance of  survival.

Bravo to Secretary-General Ban, whose comments give voice to this cause: “Combatting this crime is not only essential for conservation efforts and sustainable development; it will contribute to achieving peace and security in troubled regions where conflicts are fuelled by these illegal activities.”  The Secretary-General adds, “Getting serious about wildlife crime means enrolling the support of all sections of society involved in the production and consumption of wildlife products, which are widely used as medicines, food, building materials, furniture, cosmetics, clothing and accessories.”

According to the United Nations, CITES:


  • As many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012.
  • Population of forest elephants are estimated to have experienced a 62% decline between 2002 and 2011.
  • In Asia, poached African ivory was valued at $165 to $188 million. remaining virtually unchanged in 2014 compared to 2013.


  • 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone in 2014 – this translates to one rhino killed every eight hours.
  • 94 per cent of rhino poaching takes place in South Africa, which has the largest remaining populations
  • In 2014, poached rhino horns are valued at $63 to $192 million.

Apes: Chimpanzees, Gorillas & Bonobos in Africa; Orangutans in Asia

Illicit trafficking in live great apes is estimated (at a minimum) lost from the wild over the last 14 months of (from GRASP records) :

  • 220 chimpanzees,
  • 106 orangutans,
  • 33 bonobos, and
  • 15 gorillas

“Wildlife crime is a transnational organized crime generating billions of dollars and undermining development. It is also an inter-generational crime that can permanently scar the world through the loss of some of our most beautiful creatures.  To stop this, we must act now,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Yes, we hope to see the UN Development Program (UNDP) deal with wildlife crime by concentrating on law enforcement, updating laws and educating communities. Regions in Asia and Africa must partner with neighboring countries and work together to stop illegal trade in these precious animals. What has taken them so long?

“World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to  celebrate wildlife, but it is also a wake-up call to get serious about wildlife crime. We must all do more to halt the illegal trade in wildlife. UNDP and its partners are committed to this task,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark recently. Actually, the wake-up call has been there a long time. I pray that with the serious involvement of the UN, we can see some real action on this problem before it’s too late. I ask my readers to follow the UN’s promise to take action; check out their link below. Let them know of the urgency for many of these animals and let’s not forget the birds, too. This may be their last hope.

UN adopts new global platform to tackle wildlife, forest crime

If you haven’t heard of the NGO, Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project for baby elephants and baby rhinos, I invite you to click on this link and sponsor a baby elephant or baby rhino through them. You won’t regret it.

An Artist That Likes Birds

I like tromping through wetlands, forests and the high desert just to get a glimpse of a bird.

It doesn’t necessary have to be a rare bird but if it is, it made my day.  I am an artist.  Sometimes, I draw birds but not as much as I would like.  Sometimes, I teach kids about nature and how important conservation is… always adding a few words about the birds.  Sometimes, I travel to far away places, facilitating an art strategy to save the planet with other artists or NGOs.  I seem to be especially fond of the people I meet that work protecting birds.  Birds are an inspiration.  Did I mention… I really do like birds.

This blog is to share stories and experiences about how a few insightful artists can plays an important roll in their communities promoting change in positive ways.  The work is challenging but fun.  It can also be frustrating.  It takes a lot of time but ends up being very meaningful.  The work becomes a story.  A story we remember, tell to our neighbors and families.  My story began along time ago with the birds.  Now I listen for their song or watch them ride the trade winds. Birds ground us in the moment.  Birds teach us that the little things we do in our lives matter and sometimes miraculously can become something very big in a profound way. Follow my blog to learn more.

Marin IJ –Why Save World Draw? About Birdie Girl

Marin Snapshot: “Fairfax Artist Finds Calling As Foster Mom for Hummingbirds”
by Jennifer Upshaw
POSTED: 05 / 01 / 2010

Above Photo/Jeff Vendsel   A pair of hummingbirds fed by artist and conservationist Brenda Sherburn, Director of www.saveworlddraw.org through WildCare fosters cares hummingbirds.

Artist and conservationist Brenda Sherburn of Fairfax, who has cared for infant hummingbirds for more than a decade, says one of the biggest challenges is feeding the tiny birds. ‘They digest their food very quickly…. They re so little you can t feed them a lot,’ she says.  Artist and conservationist Brenda Sherburn’s life is always humming.

Sherburn, who has lived in the Fairfax hills for 14 years, has spent nearly a decade serving as a foster mother to baby hummingbirds scooped up by the San Rafael-based animal rehabilitation organization WildCare. A sculptor and sketch artist with a particular fascination for winged creatures, Sherburn will teach a class this May at Riley Street Art Store in San Rafael on “Birds As an Inspiration for Art,” a course for kids age 8 and older.  She is director of www.saveworlddraw.org, an organization that creates art to help fill wishes for conservation.

Q: How did you get into fostering hummingbirds?

A: I was working in Belize in 2001 and I helped build an educational center for wildlife with the Belize Audubon Society … when I came back 9/11 hit.  It just hit me; I felt I needed to volunteer and be doing something to try to make the world a better place.

Q: How many hummingbirds do you foster at any given time?

A: I think six would be the maximum that I’ve had at a time.  When I have really tiny ones like in an incubator, you know, just a couple, that is very time consuming because you are attached to the incubator and 20-minute feedings until they get big enough to be outside. Then it’s not too bad because you can take them outside in a little basket and it’s really easy to feed them and they move along until we release them.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in fostering hummingbirds?

A: Not to overfeed them and to really make sure your timer is on. Twenty minutes go – you just get into a pace.

Q: Why is timing important?

A: They digest their food very quickly and in the wild the mother bird is constantly feeding them and they’re so little you can’t feed them a lot. They are growing constantly and their little bill will just kind of grow out and get longer and longer and they start doing the little tongue thing. It’s really a miracle.

Q: What attracts you to these particular birds?

A: It really clicked when I was in Belize. I saw hundreds of birds everywhere and other wildlife. When I came back I just realized that our wildlife is really in jeopardy. We need to take time to do what we can to preserve it.  As far as getting onto the hummingbird team, it was just timing.  They needed somebody and at that point I was ready.  I must add, it also works great with my art because it’s inspirational,  it’s magical – it just makes me observe the world in a better way.

Contact Jennifer Upshaw via e-mail at jupshaw@marinij.com
Tahir Khan Arzani

Jan 19, 2015
This is excellent Brenda, you are doing great inspirational work. You have inspired many people around the world.

Brenda SaveWorldDraw

Jan 19, 2015
You’re sweet, Tahir.  This article is actually part of my bio series I’m putting together for my website.  When I think back on all those baby hummingbirds I raised, I am not sure how I ever did it.  Blessings come to us in unexpected ways.  Thank you.

You are welcome Brenda, you deserve much more recognition then this. It is good to know that you are putting together your biography for your website. You should also do it for your book.