Questions and Chaos

Life in the 21st Century

Ecotourism for Jaguars

Friday, April 22, 2016

jaguar -2

photos by Petr Kratochvil from

photos by Petr Kratochvil from

I had the privilege of attending a talk sponsored by the Alberta Wilderness Association Biologist, Jim Butler was speaking about his trip through the Pantanal in Brazil and Bolivia.  The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and is teeming with wildlife. Among this wildlife is the largest population of jaguars on earth. 

The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world – following the lion and the tiger.  It is large enough to pluck a good sized crocodile out of the river for lunch which, apparently,  is  something it does quite often.

Jim Butler came back with amazing photographs of jaguars taken while on a boat tour riding the river through jaguar country. After watching this National Geographic video I’m not sure how safe I would feel on a boat, but I have to admit I’d like a few jaguar photos of my own.

Ecotourism is providing income for the people living in the Pantanal and helping to preserve jaguar populations. In some areas jaguars are now worth more money alive than dead as they provide income for thriving tourist lodges instead of being killed to protect cattle ranching.

This was the first time I had heard about safaris to the Pantanal. These trips are as exciting, or maybe more so, considering the abundance of species,  as any safari in Africa. Numerous organizations are working to create intimate wildlife observations for travellers.  Arcana Mundi Expeditions operate the Jaguar Flotel and guarantee that if you do not see a jaguar they will refund you $1,000.  Jaguars even walk in broad daylight on the riverbank within 5 meters of the flotels.  

It is my hope that these magnificent creatures continue to grow and thrive through future centuries. 




Always Be on the Lookout

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder

-E. B. White

Butterfly - Wonder


Celebrations of Spring

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spring Table

Cultures all over the world celebrate the coming of spring.  Spring is marked on the calendar by the spring equinox, or by the local season for the beginning of planting. In the Christian traditions across Europe and North America spring is celebrated as Easter. Muslims in many countries celebrate Nowruz.  Jews celebrate the festival of trees called  Tu b’shevat. Hindus celebrate Holi, the most colourful festival by far. Google images gives us a great feel for each festival.

Celebrating spring is a valuable event in a northern climate like ours, where we may have  six months or more of snow.  The Easter holiday that we celebrate in North America has evolved from various traditions across the centuries. It origins predate Christianity that has now claimed it as its own. The Persian  festival of Nowruz is an ancient spring festival that originated over 3,000 years ago,  before the existence of either  Muhammad or Jesus.  Traditionally the holiday is celebrated for two weeks with time off  from work and school.  Two weeks might be too long for modern North American sensibilities, but wouldn’t it be great to have a week of spring break for the whole country?  It could be holiday for people of every ethnic background and every religion that share our common climate.

Spring equinox is a little early for us to be celebrating in Canada. Parts of the country may still have snow banks.  It’s not a suitable time for picnics or planting. For Edmontonians “May long weekend” is the first real day of spring. It’s official name is Victoria Day but I don’t know anyone who still calls it that. May long weekend is when people plant their tomatoes hoping that all freezing temperatures are over. Parkas can safely be retired into storage and camping gear is dusted off.

Instead of a three day weekend I suggest  a whole week of spring break  to celebrate  warm weather.  After six months of snow and staying indoors we need this. What fun could be created by combining the traditions of all our varied cultures!  We could  have a week filled with family dinners, chocolates, Easter egg hunts, picnics in the park, gardening, tree planting and also water fights and coloured powder parties. A week of multicultural parties and outdoor activities to celebrate the end of winter. We’ve been a country long enough now –  it’s time to create new,  unique Canadian traditions.