Posts Tagged With: Pangolins

CITES Recap: the good, the bad and the ugly

The CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 2008-2020 vision states
*they will be contributing to the conservation of wildlife as an integral part of the global ecosystem on which all life depends,
*as well as promoting transparency and wider involvement of civil society in the development of conservation policies and practices

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Are they following their vision?

Well, here’s a recap. The animals who reaped ‘benefits’ from increased protection are:

*Pangolins (trade was completely banned, and the most highly trafficked animals in the world were given highest protection status)

*African Gray Parrots (trade was completely outlawed)

*Sharks and Rays (Thirteen species of rays and Thresher and Silky sharks were given highest protection status)

In addition, proposals to grant legal trade in ivory and/or horn in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland were denied.

But the disheartening news was the denial of CITES to grant the highest level of protection to:

*Elephants 

*Rhinos 

*Lions 

An added issue for lions is the trade in captive bred lion parts remains legal. This perpetuates the Asian demand, and serves as an added incentive for South Africa to continue breeding farms. (Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa.)

seizures-of-lion-parts

© Data from UNEP-WCMC

In theory wild lion parts are not legally traded. Yet, there is no way to tell the difference between a wild lion bone and a captive lion bone. If money is to be made, bones will likely be obtained. Like a fenced in yard with surrounded by only  three sides, protection for Africa’s lion is incomplete, and proves worrisome to an even  faster decline.

In the end, the negligence to protect one species casts a shadow over the decision to protect others. It also casts doubt on the credibility and intentions of our CITES delegates.

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President Zuma at CITES. South Africa has been accused of “selling out” both elephants in lions in their votes against added protection. Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

 

There is no necessity in trading lion parts, wild or captive. To perpetuate a market and feed a false cultural perception is not only ethically questionable, but also sends a mixed message in the overall trade of wildlife products. Why is one species an acceptable “commodity” over another? And if a species becomes “captive bred”, is the door open for that species to be traded as well?

lion-farm-by-one-green-planet

Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa photo: One Green Planet

For Appendices ratings, just how low do the numbers have to get for us to act? The Northern White Rhinos are a perfect example of the error in waiting too long. There are 3 left. They were never afforded protection in time. Why isn’t their predicament enough; does history teach us nothing?

northern-white-by-brent-stirton-nat-geo

Only three Northern White Rhinos remain, all living in Kenya at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. photo: Brent Stirton/Nat Geo

(It is important to note that upgrading lions to the Appendix I status would ONLY have affected wild lions, and would not have afforded protection to their captive cousins.)

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

World Ranger Day – THANK YOU

world ranger day

The depth of our gratitude is endless, as these people put it all on the line, affording the rest of us more time to rack our brains to come up with a solution. We are indebted to them all for their perseverance and very existence, as without them we would never fully possess our sanity, let alone be able to sleep. To know they are there, on guard, watching, listening; it is a comfort like no other.

Thank you for your hearts, your strength. KNOW we stand beside you during the patrols, in the silence of the night, in the heat of the forest, during times of fear, fatigue, and despair. You are each an inspiration, a hero.

Thank you for everything you do. You are a blessing to the animals. May God keep you safe. -Gerri

Thank you to all the wonderful Rangers that perform such a dedicated job to help save the rhinos from poachers! -Jo Wiest

Thank you rangers! -Lisa Chien Hunkler

The entire Fabrily Team would like to extend our gratitude to the brave Rangers who risk their lives daily to protect our planet’s precious wildlife. Thanks to your efforts rhinos, elephants, lions and many more species are being saved from extinction. Please continue this important work and know that you’ve got our appreciation and support!  ~ Fabrily Team, UK

I visited South Africa in August 2014 and it changed me forever.  I was incredibly moved by the amazing creatures who live in the protected areas.  I became overwhelmed by the amount of nature we have lost on this planet.  And it saddened me greatly.  It still does. I don’t know how to thank you adequately for working to protect what’s left.  I know you put your lives on the line every day to protect animals from harm.  Please know that although I’ve never met you, I think of you all often, and I wish you well. I live in the state of Kentucky, in the USA.  From my small town I’m working to raise money for night vision equipment for rangers.  My group, the Try Anything Rhino Project, has already purchased one piece of equipment that has arrived in South Africa in the last week or two.  I’m now working to raise funds to buy more. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you do.  You are all heroes.  I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know!! -Marla Knight-Dutille

 Please give our heartfelt thanks to all he Ranger Heroes out there! Wildlife Guardians, protectors of our precious wildlife, the world is forever in your debt. You truly are Guardian Angels for Wildlife -Thank you so much from Rebecca Bush & Family, UK
rangers 1
Thank you from the depths of my heart. The Indian rhino tattoo on my ankle is a reminder of these magnificent creatures who deserve the right to be free from humans. -Arden Zalman
Where do we begin? Because of YOU these lives carry on… THANK YOU for your dedication!!!! -Carla Viljoen
Thank You Rangers for your dedication and love of Animals. -Norma Crichton
We will never meet or talk, but you are in my mind and heart.  You have my admiration, respect, and gratitude.
I do what I can in the ways that I can, but YOU are the everyday living presence that does the work that will save so much in our world.Thank you, thank you.  I send good thoughts for your safety, health, strength, and peace. Catherine;Santa Rosa, California, USA
A huge thank you for all that you do to protect the vulnerable and magnificent creatures that share this world with us. You are true heroes-Sara Wickenden
Thank you Rangers for your brave efforts to protect wildlife.-Jean du Ross
We need companionate like you to protect these beautiful creatures.  May God Bless and protect you and the animals you care for. Thank you for your dedication and service-Dan Seme
You are the true protectors of our future.you might not know this but your efforts and true love you have for our animals are what keeps the planet alive.thank you from the bottom of my heart.you are true heros -Brendon Hoy
ranger with gorilla
Hello all your wildlife rangers, we want to say a big “THANK YOU” to you all for helping animals! You all are our HEROES!!! –Susanna Sikorski and Jens Strohkirch from Germany

TO ALL OF YOU WHO DO THIS HARD WORK- THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! I read about as much as I can about your efforts, which are saving so many animals lives—at the same time, you have to deal with criminals who don’t care about anything but greed—so I just say a huge THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS TO HELP KEEP ALLTHE MAGNIFICENT CREATURES ALIVE—I PERSONALLY AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS—Louise Smith

Rangers, I have the privilege of witnessing daily on WildEarth’s wildsafarilive.com, the love and care guides & rangers have for your wildlife.  I am blessed that I am able to witness ellies, lions, leopards, etc. thanks to the hard work and dedication you all put into your daily lives.  If it wasn’t for you, WE would have nothing to see and admire.  🙂 Keep up  the great work so WE can continue to be in awe.  WE are rooting for you, and praying for your safety and success.  Words cannot express enough, but I can say THANK YOU!Blessings, Vicky Sanders, New Mexico USA

To all the Rangers in the World, You’re true guardians of the Earth and the vital eco-systems we need to desperately protect. I’m heart broken for the tragedy in your work but we must all fight for your triumphs. -Thank you, Paula

KWS rangers line up

 

It is not money, goodwill or millions of people who care so much about wildlife, that actually saves it. That all helps, tremendously; but it is the rangers who actually save our animals. I have never had so much respect for anyone. Thank you! -Jenna Grant

Thank you for all that you do to protect our most precious and endangered wildlife. Thank you for doing your best to keep them safe and sound. You are the extraordinary and elite. I wish you many blessings and thanks. -Love Always, Susan
Thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication to help saving these animals. We all owe you so much.  -Anita
My heart breaks so much each time I read a horrendous poaching story. But it heals each time I hear of the wonderful work you do. Humanity must respect all animals, who give so much to us. Respect their habitat, their spirit and their being. We are all in this together. Thank you a million times over! -Janis Byrne
Thanks for your effort, love and hearts in action towards Rhino protection. Hope for the best outcome in their and your lives in harmony and soon! Love to you all. Many thanks all the way from Argentina. 🙂 -Marita  ❤ 😉
I’d like to thank you for all that you do. You are in my heart, and I am certain in the hearts of every adult and child who has ever reflected on the importance of the preservation of the Earth that we all share and belong to. The feeling of struggle is progressively relieved with every animal that is protected. This helps us all, even economically. We love you! -Santos of California
Zambia female officer
You are protectors of those animals who need you. You are their voice. Without you, they would be gone. I can’t thank you enough for the service you do. Bless you. Please have hope and love in your hearts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! -Kari Tucker
You’re great at what you’re doing! Keep doing it because we need these animals! They’re important to a lot of people and what you guys are doing is an amazing thing! -Hannah
To my heroes – Thank you for all that you do every day to stop poachers and care for the animals that survive this horrific crime.  What you do for these majestic animals is so amazing.  I can only hope to someday see these animals with my own eyes in their own habitat and it will be because of your efforts.  And if I don’t ever get to see them, knowing that they are still alive because of your efforts is all I really need.  Thank you for saving these beautiful animals. Best-Abbie

Thank you for all you do to protect these beautiful creatures. Full of admiration for your bravery and dedication x Best wishes-Amy G

Beyond thanking you, I am unsure what else to say. You are protecting the inalienable rights, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, of the wildlife. They lack a voice our society to request the protections which we enjoy and take for granted. Please continue your fine work and let the rest of us know how to better assist you.
Thank you. Sincerely, Ken
ranger with rhino near hand
I want you to know that if I was able I would be there to help. You are an inspiration in this cruel world. What you are doing is truly remarkable and I hope that you continue to save and protect these magnificent creatures. We are losing our beautiful animals on this planet at such a rapid rate it is horrific. Unfortunately mankind carries on. Thank you for all that you do. Keep up the fight. Thank you. –Sandra Mason, Mono, Ontario

On World Ranger Day  my  message of thanks goes to all those men and women who are prepared to lay their lives for the protection of their country’s wildlife heritage. This is often done enduring hardships and difficult conditions , for disproportionately low salaries. Their dedication is often overshadowed by other figures (‘the experts’) who provide technical and scientific knowledge for Nature conservation. Governments , in any country, should make it a priority to provide better conditions for these men and women, the game rangers: not only for the purpose of incentivizing an increasingly important profession, but also to express a nation’s gratitude for their sacrifice. Rangers are aware of the high risks they face , especially where poaching is conducted with extreme determination and violence,  and their choice of enforcing the law makes their work even more commendable. Thank you, for you are today’s heroes for tomorrow’s enjoyment of Nature by our children! –Silvana Olivo, France

Thank you wonderful folks, I appreciate all that you are doing! Bless you, may your lord be with you always! Thank you again! –Carol D

Thank you for your courage and commitment to protect the most endangered animals on the planet. It takes a special kind of person to be a wildlife ranger! –Yasmine Saad

Thank you so much for all that you do to protect our wildlife. Our national and state parks, and the plants and animals within them, are a treasure that you work so hard to preserve and protect—that does not go unnoticed or unappreciated! Your service means the world :)-Sophia D

Thanks so much for all you do to protect our planet! This World Ranger Day, and every day, let us never forget those who have given their lives to protect our wildlife and environment from poachers, polluters, and others intent on causing harm. Your bravery and sacrifices will not be forgotten! –Jeremy Taylor, Ravena, NY USA

So many of you sent support and appreciation for our rangers. We will be sending these messages to our friends at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Black Mambas APU, Game Reserves United (GRU) & RPU Program in Indonesia.

To further support our efforts with them, please purchase our limited edition summer tee: FIGHT FOR THE RHINOS YOU LOVE tees

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Ranger Heroes, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thank a Ranger

July 31st is World Ranger Day, one of our favorite days, as we give respect and appreciation to all the men and women for protecting our wildlife.

These people ARE the frontline in the poaching war. Without them, rhinos, elephants, lions, gorillas, pangolins would surely have been wiped out by now.

We cannot emphasis enough the importance of wildlife rangers.

In honor of this day, we would like your help in showing gratitude. Please send us a note of thanks to share with them for all they do. We’ll be taking comments up until the 31st. fightforrhinos@gmail.com

We will share your messages on July 31st, World Ranger Day.

rangers behind

 

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Ranger Heroes, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Most Highly Trafficked Animal on Earth

Today is World Pangolin Day. So what’s a Pangolin? Arguably the most endangered and least heard of animal on Earth.

World Pangolin Day 2014

Like rhinos and elephants, pangolins are severely endangered and desired by Asian communities. Not much is known about these mysterious creatures, as they are nocturnal and highly secretive. Making it even more difficult for scientists is the fact they are quickly disappearing.

PANGOLIN FACTS

*There are 8 species of Pangolins; 4 living in Asia, 4 living in Africa.

*They are also referred to as “scaly anteaters”

*Pangolins are mainly nocturnal and feed primarily on insects.

*They have no teeth, only sticky tongues, which they can extend up to 40 cm (16 in).

*Pangolins have poor eyesight and hearing, but a strong sense of smell.

*Pangolin scales are made of keratin and compromise 20% of the animal’s body weight. They are a natural defense for the little mammals, but also the reason they are poached.

Roxy and Maria again

Roxy the Cape Pangolin formed a special bond with Maria from the Rare and Endangered Species Trust

Pangolin Roxy and Maria of REST Rare & Endangered Species Trust

Roxy and Maria.

ROxy and baby

Roy carries her baby on her back.

Petition: Save endangered Pangolins from illegal poaching.

Petition: Help endangered Pangolins by featuring them in a Disney film

Baby pang standing by maria diekmann

Baby pangolin by: Maria Diekmann

Photos from REST, featured in Africa Geographic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

China’s Expanding Middle Class Fuels Poaching

Vendors hawk animal wares, including a bull's head for decoration, in a market stall in Mong La. In this shop and others, customers can buy porcupine quills, tiger claws and penises, horns from deer and mountain goats, and other items from wild and often endangered species for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Vendors hawk animal wares, including a bull’s head for decoration, in a market stall in Mong La. In this shop and others, customers can buy porcupine quills, tiger claws and penises, horns from deer and mountain goats, and other items from wild and often endangered species for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Shortened article taken from: Hereward Holland, Photos by Minzayar
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

MONG LA, Myanmar—In this gaudy mecca of eroticism and greed on the eastern border with China, the cuisine isn’t for the squeamish: Many items on the menu, including the drinks, are derived from poached endangered animals.

At one riverside bistro a tiger skeleton marinates in a dark alcoholic tonic in a 12-foot aquarium, its vacant eye sockets gazing down on patrons. The elixir is believed by its many aficionados to be a potent aphrodisiac that imparts the animal’s muscular vitality.

“The tiger wine is good for both men and women,” says a Chinese businessman who has lived in Mong La for a decade, grinning maniacally and flexing his arms like a bodybuilder. “It makes a man strong in the bedroom.”

The wine, like its grape-based relative, must steep, preferably for at least a year. Then, discerning sex tourists can quaff it for 1,000 yuan ($163 U.S.) per bottle.

“Most people just take one or two glasses,” says a giggling waitress.

The drink is just one of many enticements that lure hundreds of Chinese across the border every day to Myanmar’s city of sin. As a taxi driver ferried us through the darkening jungle toward the neon-lit valley in the country also known as Burma, he summed up the destination’s decadent attractions:

“There’s not much in Mong La. Just prostitutes, gambling, and rare animals.”

Mong La is a smaller, seedier, anarchic version of Las Vegas—a collection of casinos and their associated vices in an unlikely, out-of-the-way place, though one where the rare animals are not for show, but for consumption. From humble market stalls to high-end boutiques, the town is a macabre menagerie where Chinese tourists can scoop up a bargain. A framed tiger tail goes for 30,000 yuan ($4,890), a tiger skin for 100,000 yuan ($16,300), and a prized rhino horn for 280,000 yuan ($45,640).

In the kitchen of a popular wildlife restaurant, meat hangs on hooks. Outside, snakes, turtles, pangolins, and other animals live in cages until they are turned into entrees that some Chinese gourmands consider delicacies.

In the kitchen of a popular wildlife restaurant, meat hangs on hooks. Outside, snakes, turtles, pangolins, and other animals live in cages until they are turned into entrees that some Chinese gourmands consider delicacies.

The city is the capital of Special Region No. 4, a largely lawless, 1,911-square-mile realm in a remote area. This territory is typical of Myanmar’s porous borderlands: a blind spot beyond government writ or regulation where local authorities apply national laws with caprice. In this crack between the paving slabs of statehood has sprouted the largest rare animal market in Southeast Asia—a poacher’s paradise.

“The rate of poaching in Southeast Asia is unbelievable. It’s being vacuumed out,” says Chris Shepherd, Southeast Asia regional director of TRAFFIC, a group that monitors the global trade in plants and wild animals.

During the past couple of decades, China’s extraordinary economic expansion has created a vast cohort of nouveau riche, eager to spend cash on totems of wealth and prestige.

A shop displays tiger bone wine, sold in ornate bottles, and a tiger pelt hung on a wall. To make the liquor, thought to distill the vitality of wild tigers, skeletons are marinated in tanks filled with alcoholic tonic. In Mong La, Chinese men imbibe it as an aphrodisiac and then head to the many bordellos.

A shop displays tiger bone wine, sold in ornate bottles, and a tiger pelt hung on a wall. To make the liquor, thought to distill the vitality of wild tigers, skeletons are marinated in tanks filled with alcoholic tonic. In Mong La, Chinese men imbibe it as an aphrodisiac and then head to the many bordellos.

China’s Middle Class Drives Demand

Today China’s middle class (those earning $10-$100 per day) number some 150 million, a little less than half the population of the United States. During the next decade that figure could more than triple, ratcheting up demand for Mong La’s unrestrained hedonism, bourgeois trophies, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Up to one-third of the global trafficking of wild tiger parts may pass through Myanmar, estimates Thomas Gray, the World Wildlife Fund’s manager of the Greater Mekong Species Programme.

“Poaching and wildlife trafficking of large mammals in Asia have increased exponentially over the last two or three decades, but also in Africa in the last ten years,” he says. “The driving force is the increased number of middle-class or affluent people involved in conspicuous consumption in Asia, particularly in China.”

Left: Dried elephant skin, tiger penises and paws (which might be fake or from rare animals raised on farms), and pangolin scales are sold in a Mong La market. Right: Peppers and tomatoes are displayed next to animal parts.

Left: Dried elephant skin, tiger penises and paws (which might be fake or from rare animals raised on farms), and pangolin scales are sold in a Mong La market. Right: Peppers and tomatoes are displayed next to animal parts.

It’s a similar story with the array of other endangered animals hawked in Mong La’s open-air apothecary: bear bile and claws, elephant hide and ivory, leopard and jungle cat pelts, as well as live pangolins, turtles, and monkeys.

In Mong La’s main market, a woman sells four-inch squares of dried elephant hide. She explains that they are ground into a paste and applied to wounds to help them heal. As she talks, a giant, blue-eyed husky saunters past, sniffs her goods, and then tries to befriend a monkey chained to a post.

“I sell all my products to Chinese tourists,” says the woman, who asks not to be identified. Like most of those interviewed in Mong La, she fears retribution for speaking openly from people involved in the illicit trade or local officials.

Continuing her sales pitch, she proffers what she claims are tiger claws, for talismans, and dried tiger penises, for extra sexual vim.

Menus across town feature turtles, lizards, and pangolins, the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Several pangolins sit in cages outside one restaurant, like anteaters in chain mail, awaiting the pot. The meat of this small armored creature is considered a delicacy; its scales are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ills, including poor circulation.

In recent years an international trade in pangolins has sprung up from African countries to Asian markets, driven by China’s new affluence.

Animal Trafficking Replaces Opium Smuggling

It’s difficult to establish firm origins for the animals sold in Mong La. Of a dozen vendors queried by National Geographic, all said their tiger products came from Myanmar, although it is unclear whether they first had been smuggled in from another country.

Most locals, though, point to the surrounding jungle of Myanmar’s Shan State as the source. “In the past the business was drugs and heroin, but now it’s animals, mostly from southern Shan State,” says Abraham Than, an 88-year-old retired bishop, neatly condensing two decades of the history of the area known as Special Region No. 4.

Over a glass of local wine, Than talks about how Mong La’s fortunes have changed since he arrived in 1969.

“There were no buildings; it was a jungle village,” he says.

To reach Mong La, Chinese visitors drive through a dramatic landscape. The neon-lit city is a garish sight in the remote, largely lawless jungle of eastern Myanmar. Since 1989, the city has been controlled by a former rebel army and has become a mecca for gambling, prostitution, and the wildlife trade.

To reach Mong La, Chinese visitors drive through a dramatic landscape. The neon-lit city is a garish sight in the remote, largely lawless jungle of eastern Myanmar. Since 1989, the city has been controlled by a former rebel army and has become a mecca for gambling, prostitution, and the wildlife trade.

At the time, Shan State was overrun by rebel groups, far too many for Than to recall. In 1989, the army, which ran the country, reached a cease-fire agreement with the militants, including the National Democratic Alliance Army in Mong La. The NDAA, with about 3,000 troops, has controlled the region ever since, even as Myanmar has taken significant steps toward democracy.

Than built a Catholic church on a hillock overlooking the town in 1996, hoping to spread the Lord’s word in a new era of peace, but the word mostly fell on deaf ears. “I say to myself, ‘I have made a mistake coming here.’ I wanted to come here to be a monk in the quiet, but it’s so messy,” he chuckles.

In the 1990s the NDAA became heavily involved in the drug trade in the area, which is in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Along with Laos and Thailand, Myanmar once produced most of the world’s opium. It is now second behind Afghanistan.

Feeling the heat from the U.S. State Department, Myanmar’s ruling junta pressured the NDAA’s leader, Lin Ming Xian, to quit narco-trafficking, and by 1997 he proclaimed his fiefdom opium-free, but his reputation stuck.

One U.S. diplomat wrote in a leaked 2005 embassy cable that Mong La “is patrolled not by the Burmese army or police force but by a James Bondian private police force funded by regional leader and drug trafficker Lin Ming Xian.”

Mong La quickly turned to substitute vices: gambling, the sex trade, and rare animals culled from the jungle.

“It’s not regulated. Special Region No. 4 has been basically allowed to do what they like as long as it isn’t opium. There’s a real Wild West element to the place,” says Richard Horsey, a Yangon-based political analyst.

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As night falls, traffic slides through the center of Mong La, which is bisected by a caramel-colored river. The town, in an area that is mostly jungle, has grown as China's middle class has expanded and sought out its illicit pleasures.

As night falls, traffic slides through the center of Mong La, which is bisected by a caramel-colored river. The town, in an area that is mostly jungle, has grown as China’s middle class has expanded and sought out its illicit pleasures.

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elbows and Knees

For every act of injustice toward an animal, man is not far behind.

Rhinos, elephants, pangolins, and countless other creatures are on the brink of extinction. China, Vietnam, and Laos are some of the biggest culprits in their destruction; in the name of medicine.

In a previous post –Planet China: a World of Myths and Make-believe there is a phenomenal listing all creatures on China’s medical chopping block. This leaves many to wonder-what next?

The answer: humans. Apparently in a bit of information from an OSCAP (Outraged South Africa CItizens Against Poaching) member, human elbows and knees are now in demand for Asian medicine. There has been no mention as to what ailment this stands to miraculously cure, just an eerie and enormous step backwards for humanity.

mountains of elbows and knees

Carl Warner’s photo: ‘Mountains are made of elbows and knees’.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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