In The News: Cecil The Lion

I have held my tongue for a few days because I wanted to be far more educated in this matter than I was previously. I don’t feel any more educated but I didn’t want to come across as a lot of people in Walter Palmers Yelp page!  This discussion has been in my home for a few weeks now and it is something I want to talk about.

Cecil

Cecil was a lion that lived in Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe. The park is the biggest game reserve in Zimbabwe, it’s about half the size of Belgium. He was 13 years old and was a national treasure. He had been collard and tracked by Oxford University since 1999. I recommend you read this, to know more. He had distinctive black fur in his mane, people would travel to try and spot the famous Cecil. It was also noted that he had a very good temperament.

EDIT: Also just to note that Oxford says Cecil’s brother, Jericho is alive. Just incase you were wondering.

So what happened?

A dentist from the US, Walter Palmer, decided to use Theo Bronkhorst, who owns a hunting company in Zimbabwe, to shoot a lion with a bow and arrow. Palmer paid $50,000 dollars to do so. Palmer and Bronkhorst track Cecil and by using bait, they drew out Cecil onto land outside Hwange National Park.

So Palmer shoots Cecil with an arrow. Cecil runs off and Palmer, Bronkhorst and their team track the wounded animal for 40 hours and then shoot him. Except all of this was illegal. Neither Bronkhorst nor Palmer had authorisation for this kill. The park didn’t have an animal to kill at that time. Palmer said that he didn’t know that it was illegal or that Cecil was famous and loved. To me, luring a collard animal out of the park and killing on a different persons land is highly suspicious. Currently Bronkhorst and the land owner have been up in court but are now out on bail.

Trophy hunting is good for conservation.

Now this I have had trouble finding extensive information on. I know that parks need to cull animals because there isn’t enough space. Humans have done this, we have controlled the wild animals of the world and we need them to stay controlled in their area, I get it. Keeping the population strong by human intervention has never been something I really condone but I understand. For instance I know that Co. Wicklow is overrun with deer and there are legal hunting periods to control the population. I understand it but I would never participate, I love those deer.

I have heard that the meet goes back to the community but I don’t know if that is true. This is probably false, it’s probably left for scavengers. It is said that because of trophy hunters, a number of privately owned parks, that breed animals for hunting, started so that wild animals could survive. I have been on some hunting websites but I haven’t seen any information on how it benefits society.

Africa is a complicated continent, there is a whole load of history that we don’t remember in these situations. It is not an easy thing at all. Any information for or against I am interested in so link it below! 

My thoughts on trophy hunting.

I have to note that I find trophy hunters really horrible humans.  I don’t understand it and I probably will never understand why they do it but I do not support it in any kind of fashion. I do understand hunting to eat and to feed a family but I don’t understand why you feel the need to pose with it and hang it on your wall. I find it grotesque. I find craving to kill a living thing with a bow or a gun for a prize or gratification a very inhumane thing. National Geographic has some articles on this topic.

Unfortunately this beautiful lion Cecil had to die for upheaval to ensue. Trophy hunters have been vilified on twitter and other social media sites a lot in the past year. With the documentary Blood Lions out last week, about canned hunting, the conversation is in full light and it is a very interesting topic.

I don’t understand why Palmer or any other hunter couldn’t use that $50,000 dollars to actually help conservation by putting it directly into the cause rather than this truly odd practice. My thoughts on the matter has not changed. I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s acceptable. Don’t use hunting companies, for tours or experiences. Choose national parks, choose regulation, choose the most humane option in all of this.

Topics like this, the treatment of animals, the ethics of keeping an animal in todays world is incredibly complex. A level of transparency and information is lacking. I feel like people keep talking but they aren’t really saying anything. I feel like I haven’t learnt anything.

In Life: #AnimalRightsInTourism

So I saw this hashtag on Twitter and I am glad I clicked on it, on my recent trip to Croatia I encountered two cases of terrible animal captivity and it is still affecting me since I have come home. This twitter movement was stirred up because of a new documentary Blood Lions, all about shooting lions for money in South Africa, it goes into the breeding of lions and the people who enjoy killing an animal. This prospect to me is very interesting and am very intrigued to see it!

Being conscious of how we interact with animals is something I am very passionate about. Especially when we travel. It sometimes feels like when we are abroad we forget about the ethical rights and focus on a cool experience. Holding a monkey or a bird on a string in the street, petting wild animals, elephant rides or swimming with dolphins. They are all things I struggle with. I don’t intend to shame anyone who has had or wants to do these experiences. I want to make that very clear. Having this conversation is not a threat but a sharing of an idea that you can agree or disagree with.

My own personal stance is I would rather save up all of my money, every cent, to go back to Kruger National Park and experience wild animals in that way. I don’t want to go to a sanctuary and pet them, I even had the chance to go to a sanctuary and didn’t feel comfortable with it. I want to drive for hours and experience something so utterly amazing, an animal in the wild. Similarly with whale watching, I would also have the same stance with whales, dolphins and sharks. Seeing these creatures with all of that space and freedom is what I would prefer to experience.

Animals in Captivity

Now some zoos are good and I will support their dedication to protecting and educating the public about the creatures of the world. Some are terrible and unfortunately you may not know which is which until you enter the gates. I still struggle with zoos sometimes because yes there isn’t enough space for these animals but outside of these spaces, they are being poached or pushed out of their habitats with no where to go. Nothing is simple in the world we have created. Nothing. I am still trying to figure out how I can live in the world with minimal impact.

I understand the reality that experiencing an animal up close is what people want, they are incredible believe me there is nothing more I want to do than snuggle a red panda or feed a slow loris some mango and hold it’s tiny hand but there is always something that stops me and that is what goes on after all the people go home. When members of the public own these animals, when they are on the streets at night time or on a beach what happens when they go home.

My point is that supporting breeding programs and educating yourself or younger generations is incredibly important. I want to start being more engaged with the information I take in. I don’t want to be a spectator and I have had this feeling for a while now and this hashtag has inspired me a bit.

I am going to try something starting this Sunday and I hope that this is going to be received well. I have been feeling like I need to talk about this for a while so I hope it is welcomed.

So my Beans, will you look up #AnimalRightsInTourism ? Do you like knowing about different animals in the world and what best way to see them or help them?

Happy Travels!

In Croatia: Visiting Dalmatia in June

My trip along the Dalmatian coast was nice but it is the first place I have been in a long time where I felt very much like just another tourist. Croatia is a very popular spot in the summer months which means there are lots of people wanting you to eat in their restaurants, take a boat trip, sell you some nicknacks that you don’t want or need and there is going to be someone in your pictures all of the time! If you aren’t into this type of travel you have been warned but now lets get to the important stuff.

Croatia is beautiful, it’s got the beautiful sea, gorgeous countryside and perfect old towns that are steeped with history! I highly highly recommend you go to this beautiful part of the world, this country during the off peak season with a rented car would be perfect!

So lets break down each place I visited and the things I did!

Zadar

Although I didn’t spend a lot of time here, this tiny town is the perfect integration into Croatia’s beauty and relaxed vibe. Walking around old town is so easy and picturesque. A must do in Zadar is watch the sunset while sitting at the Sea Organ. It is so relaxing to hear the current. Read all about my 16 hours in Zadar here.

Need a place to stay in Zadar? I stayed in the most perfect apartment with AirBnb! It’s location is fantastic and it has everything you will need I highly highly recommend you stay in Apartment Sea Organ.PhoebeGill150614060-2

Plitvice Lakes National Park

A beautiful place to visit, it’s waters are a magical aquamarine colour with the most beautiful waterfalls and pools. There are so many to see in this small area, I definitely recommend that you take two days to do this park. It’s doable in a day but to have comfort and to take advantage of the area two days is best! Although I only spend one day in the park I have lots of handy tips in my post all about Plitvice Lakes National Park 

Need a place to stay in Plitvice? I stayed at the Hotel Plitvice located right beside the park at entrance 2 (so get off the bus at entrance two, it is right opposite the bus stop) This hotel is a really affordable, relatively comfortable stay, I don’t think the aircon was switched on at this point in the year so it got very hot but other than that it is a great place to stay! There is breakfast included and the food served downstairs is very tasty!PhoebeGill150615079-3

Split

Split is a really nice place to stop on the coast, it is in between Zadar and Dubrovnik and there are lots of fun things to do. I stayed in this area for three nights, two and a half days. Split is a really nice area, it has a great marina area with lots of bars so when it gets too hot you can sit and relax. There are really great shops and lots of restaurants of different prices and there are great cultural stuff to see and do. The old town is absolutely beautiful. Here are my top 8 things to do in Split. I also loved going to Marjan Hill, it’s a great place to get some exercise!

Need a place to stay in Split? I stayed in Studio Palma with Airbnb. I recommend this for a couple, although it sleeps three, any more than two and it feels like the walls are closing in. It is a very small space but it is very comfortable and has everything you need except a bottle opener!!PhoebeGill150616110-4

Dubrovnik

I really liked Dubrovnik, it’s a beautiful city. There are a few things to do, I recommend you go to Rector’s Palace and with your ticket that costs 100 kuna (€13) you can then gain entrance into 8 other museums around the city. Walking around the harbour is also a really nice thing to do there are benches for you relax and there are even places for you to take a dip in the water outside the walls. The number one thing you have to do is walk the city walls it is a great way to spend your time! Also something I definitely recommend is to take the cable car and watch the sunset above Dubrovnik.

Need a place to stay in Dubrovnik? I cannot recommend Apartment Paradise with AirBnb enough it is absolutely perfect! It is in the centre of old town, it is close to a supermarket, it is close to all the main attractions and museums. There is lots of space, although Croatian houses are narrow and tall this space feels airy and open. There is also a rooftop terrace and it is just perfect!PhoebeGill150620188-5

Also I definitely recommend you get into the sea, you can swim in lots of different spots along the Dalmatian coast here are some of the spots I tried.

What I Ate

So I really didn’t venture much with my eating. There is lots of fish on menus all across the coast but I don’t eat seafood for lots of different reasons. I ate pizza a lot. It’s the cheapest thing on every menu and I had some steak on my birthday which wasn’t good. So basically stick with pizza. Ice cream is everywhere! There are lots of flavours and it’s really tasty. Choose pistachio becuase it’s the best!

Take Note

  1. If you go from Zadar to Dubrovnik, it goes from ridiculously cheap to quite expensive so keep that in mind when you are budgeting your trip.
  2. It also gets busier and busier as you go down the coast, so it is nice to start with Zadar to relax and settle in.
  3. Buses are a great mode of transport but have to say Croatia Bus company was the worst journey I have had in a very very long time. I don’t know why we went through a different country but we did!
  4. Croatia adds it’s own soundtrack on attractions. You will be walking around an amazing historical place and there will be a stall or cafe blasting some crappy song. It was quiet common and a little annoying but you can get away from it pretty quickly.
  5. Their animal laws are horrible. I have already mentioned Splits zoo in my Marjan Hill post but I also went to an aquarium and it was just awful to see a critically endangered loggerhead turtle in a paddling pool where people had thrown their coins into. It was despicable. By law it is legal but it is disgusting, do not go to the aquarium in Dubrovnik!
  6. If you want to get €31 off your Airbnb stay click here 

So that sums up everything I did in my week in Croatia. I really enjoyed my time there but I am not done. I really want to go back in the quieter months of the year with a car. I really hope you enjoyed this post. Tell me have you been to Croatia? Is there somewhere you recommend? 

Happy Travels!

In Croatia: Swimming in the Adriatic Sea

I love being in the water, I love swimming, snorkelling and the small amount of diving I have done was incredible. I should have been born a mermaid! So these are the spots I found close enough walk from the city for a really nice swim.

Split

Split is a great place to go swimming, there are a few options for what you want. There are three spots just past the bus station that I really recommend. Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 18.10.12

I put a star on the main beach in Split, when I walked by the first day it was packed with loads of people, screaming children, terrible music and bounce houses. It really wasn’t the kind of beach I like, but there is a walkway that connects all three coves in the above image. I recommend the middle small cove if the weather is a bit cooler but still sunny and warm. The last cove is better if it is really hot because there was a stronger breeze so you might get cold on a cooler day.

DCIM103GOPRO

There isn’t much marine life in these little coves but it is fun swimming with schools of little fish and spotting sea urchins at the bottom of the sea floor.  DCIM103GOPRO

Dubrovnik

If you are on foot there is one beach close to Dubrovnik that is pretty nice (it’s on the right hand side of the picture). It is small so it will probably be very crowded on a hot day, so go early! Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 18.09.45

The views of the old city are nice to see from the water. This beach has a maker that is a safe zone for you to swim, there are a lot of boats that use the area outside the marker to go to different islands around Dubrovnik, so it is not safe to swim outside of it.

DCIM103GOPROTip:

  1. Get beach shoes! Wearing flip flops isn’t good as you can’t swim without them falling off. Get slip on shoes they are a lifesaver. From the beach to the water is all stones and can hurt quite a bit. I found in Split there are beach shoes sold in the kiosks by the bus station.
  2. Keep wandering, getting to the beaches and finding the entrances can be tricky but just keep walking around, the beauty of Croatia is that it’s small so it will never take you too long.

Swimming in the Adriatic is fantastic, the crystal clear, cooling water is a dream to swim in. I definitely would be interested in coming back one day and finding spots to dive and see more of what this water has to offer. Have you swam in the Adriatic? Do you have any places you can recommend?

Happy Travels!

In Dubrovnik: The Cable Car

I didn’t really have a plan for what I wanted to do in Dubrovnik but there was one thing I just had to do! The cable car is right outside the city, really easy to walk to and a must do in my opinion!
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It costs 108 kuna (€14) for a roundtrip ticket. You can get the cable car up and walk back down but the time I decided to go, meant I needed and wanted to get a two way ticket. There are lots of lookout points on different levels so you can take pictures.
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The views from the top are really beautiful. Seeing the entire enclosed old town with the beautiful terracotta rooftops, is a really great experience. You can see the the islands and the surrounding city. PhoebeGill150621071-2

I decided to take the trip up to watch the sunset. There is nothing better than watching a Croatian sunset, they are really really beautiful! I settled in and sat down to watch the sun go down.PhoebeGill150621245-2-3

Tips:

  1. If you are going at sunset, bring a hoodie or something warm, it can get quite chilly.
  2. Bring a picnic, there is a restaurant up there but it’s nice to bring your own food. I even saw some amazing people bring wine and pizza!! They are the kind of people you want to be!
  3. Walk around, the lookout points are nice but go explore, there is a war photograph exhibition, you can also do a buggy safari which looks like a lot of fun!

It’s a definite must do! It’s pretty cheap, it’s a great view and there are even things to fill your time when you get there. Do you like cable cars? I feel like I should make a cable car bucket list! 

Happy Travels!