Jane: My review

I have always been a huge admirer of the inspirational primatologist that is Dr Jane Goodall. And over the years, I have been lucky enough to meet her on several occasions

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R&S 2013

after being invited to her annual Roots & Shoots ceremonies in London – one of which I was honoured with the role of presenting the prizes alongside her on stage.

So when I discovered that National Geographic had made a documentary about her using footage from her first expeditions to Gombe in Africa during the 1960s, I couldn’t have been more excited to watch it.

In it, she talks about what she saw when she looked into a chimpanzees eyes. I remember the first time I truly looked into a chimpanzees eyes. It was at the UK’s primate sanctuary, called Monkey World in Dorset. It was the most incredible experience – watching him stare back at me, analysing every part of what he saw. But I felt this deep sadness in my heart. I felt like I could burst into tears at the thought of what humans are doing to our unique planet; harming these beautiful and intelligent animals by destroying the parts of the forest that they call home.

Jane made such revolutionary discoveries during her time in Africa. To think that she was the first human to have been truly accepted by a group of wild chimpanzees, the likes of whom most probably would have never encountered a human before, was remarkable. Seeing all of the newspaper clippings, from outlets breaking her wonderful story, made me think ” wow, what a time it must have been – for her, for women, for the whole world.”
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The story of Flo and Flint, albeit incredibly sad, is a prime example that animals are sentient beings. They have feelings. They care and love one another just like we humans do, and equally have the capacity to grieve for family losses.

Watching the documentary, it was incredible to see how close she became with all the animals – not just the chimpanzees. Her passion for raising awareness of the threats chimpanzees are facing in the wild is clearer than clear. Since October 1986, she hasn’t spent more than three consecutive weeks in any one place. Applauding her for her hard work and dedication would be a severe understatement.

She is an inspiration. She is a role model. She is the real-life Dr Dolittle.

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Get ready for National Mammal Week!

This year’s National Mammal Week launches this Saturday. Organised by the Mammal Society, the week long event takes place every year during the last week of October and aims to raise awareness of the challenges mammals in Britain are currently facing.

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woodlandtrust.org.uk

Although details of 2018’s events have yet to be revealed, last year there was plenty for wildlife champions to get involved in. This included recording mammal sightings and submitting them to the Mammal Society to assist with their conservation research (which can be done through a simple app called Mammal Tracker).

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woodlandtrust.org.uk

To find out what’s going on near you during National Mammal Week visit mammal.org.uk/national-mammal-week/ or follow the Mammal Society on Facebook.

Sensational species Saturday: the mighty mountain gorilla

These incredible creatures can only be found in two parts of Africa – the rainy, cold mountain forests of Virunga Volcanoes and the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

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wwf-congobasin.org

Much of their habitat has been lost to make way for farms and homes. Weighing up to 180kg, these mighty mammals are rarely poached by humans but this doesn’t mean that they don’t get caught up in traps and snares, that have been set up to catch other animals such as buffalo or antelope. Since they’re so similar to us, they can also catch human illnesses – even the common cold.

It’s not all bad news however as since 2010, these creatures have experienced an

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iucnredlist.org

increase of 25%. This is thanks to intensive conservation work, which focusses on helping locals and gorillas live along side one another in harmony. For example, the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, along with WWF, helped reduce the locals need to enter into the gorilla’s habitats along with promoting eco-tourism projects to help these locals earn a living from gorilla conservation. The most recent count revealed that there are more than 600 individuals living in the wild.

 

 

 

The finale is upon us but who will be crowned RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 champion?

It’s a four queen finale again this year, with Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Eureka and Kameron Michaels all vying for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar but who do you think should wear the crown… and take home the cash prize of $100,000?

AQUARIA

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22-year-old Aquaria, whose boy name is Giovanni Palandrani, got inspiration for her drag name from her zodiac sign… Aquarius.

The New York City queen won three maxi challenges and two mini challenges during the season but, aside from the final lip sync, never found herself in the bottom two having to defend her place in the competition.

Due to her success on the show, she’s been tipped as the favourite to snatch the crown. Speaking of her time on Drag Race, she said; “I feel very blessed to be a part of the cast and blessed to be a part of season 10… ’cause it really is such a killer season.”

Did you know? Before it was announced that Aquaria had been cast on the show, she already had more than 210,000 followers on Instagram (which has now shot up to 798k!)

ASIA O’HARA

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This seasoned queen won two maxi challenges and four mini challenges in her time on the show, but also had to lip sync for her life against The Vixen in episode 8.

Asia, whose boy name is Antwan Mason Lee, created her drag name after a family member who she had a strong relationship with when she began her career as a queen.

Although not aired on the show (I wouldn’t have admitted it either), Asia is the drag mother of Season 4’s Phi Phi O’Hara – who returned for All Stars 2 in what people felt was a bid for redemption.

On the red carpet ahead of the finale, Asia said that she took the competition day-by-day, challenge-by-challenge. “I didn’t expect to be here, but I’m not surprised that I am”, Asia said with joy.

Did you know? Asia claimed the title of Miss Gay USofA in 2007, a year after Alyssa Edwards snatched the award.

EUREKA

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Formerly known in Season 9 as Eureka O’Hara, this queen won both two maxi and mini challenges this season, proving that she was worthy of a second chance at competing for the crown.

Having to lip sync for her life twice, Eureka sent home Kalorie Karbdashian Williams in episode 2 and was part of the double save with Kameron Michaels in episode 9, which got under Aquaria’s skin.

Eureka, whose boy name is David Huggard, adopted her drag name from her biological mother’s name.

In a beautifully written poem, the self-proclaimed “elephant queen” posted on Instagram; “I want to win not for me but for the people who think they are losers”.

DID YOU KNOW? Eureka is the first returning queen to reach a Drag Race finale.

KAMERON MICHAELS

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31-year-old Nashville queen, Kameron Michaels, was described throughout the season as quiet and distant, frequently keeping herself to herself. However, she also earned the title of this season’s “lip sync assassin” after finding herself in the bottom two three times in a row (which resulted in sending both Monet X Change and Miz Cracker packing).

Despite having only won one maxi challenge and not proving successful in the mini challenges, Kameron has climbed her way to the top.

During the Ru-Union episode, we saw that none of her fellow season 10 queens thought she deserved to the win the crown, however prior to the finale episode Kameron said she couldn’t believe it but she was “so happy to be here [in the finale]”.

Did you know? She’s the first RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant to survive three lip syncs and not be told to sashay away in the next episode.

BUUUUUUUUT……

The big question is who will emerge victorious and snatch the crown? Tune in tonight (or avoid social media waiting for it to be uploaded on Netflix if you’re in the UK like me) to find out!

 

How To Train Your Dragon is back!

On 7 June, DreamWorks released the first trailer for the third installment of the animated hit fantasy series, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

DR3_Tsr1Sheet_HiddenWorld_RGB_2SMIt’s been nine years since the first How To Train Your Dragon film flew into cinemas across the world. Two films have followed the adventures of young viking, Hiccup, and his unique dragon Toothless, as they protect the Isle of Berk and it’s people from multiple threats and it looks like it will be no different in the third and final film… well, except for Hiccup’s beard.

In 2014, I was lucky enough to be selected to travel to Norway to celebrate the release of HTTYD 2 for National Geographic Kids magazine. It was the most amazing experience, especially having not been to the country before.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the head of character animation, Simon Otto, in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, took part in a spot of dragon racing (thankfully whilst firmly on the ground) and even gave indoor skydiving a go to … all of which were caught on camera and published on the NG Kids YouTube channel!

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is due in cinemas next spring.

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ZSL welcomes baby tamandua!

On 31 May, London Zoo announced that they’d recently had a surprise arrival at the zoo. Meet Poco – the tiny tamandua.

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 1

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo

Poco was born to proud parents Ria and Tobi (who only moved to the zoo last October as a hopeful companion). Keepers welcomed the newborn’s arrival, which took place just five months after the pair of tamanduas had been introduced. The cute Easter arrival clung to Ria’s fur but now, at two months old, Poco is beginning to venture away to explore the Rainforest Life home.

Tamanduas are nocturnal creatures, native to South America. Part of the anteater family, these mammals are impressive climbers and have tongues that can grow up to 40cm long. This species has very small eyes and poor vision, so relies on its hearing and strong sense of smell.

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 2

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo

The perfect proposal

In April, my partner asked me to marry her and I, of course, said yes! For my birthday earlier this year, she’d bought me a voucher for afternoon tea at London’s Fortnum & Mason since it’s my favourite shop and I’ve always wanted to go there for it. When I arrived (as I was meeting her there from work) I saw that she had a rose… that’s when I knew something was going on.

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Filled with excitement and anticipation, we were seated at a table by the window. With the sun beaming in, and before having ordered anything, she started telling me how much I meant to her. And that’s when it happened! Once I’d figured out what she was going to ask me, I was itching to say yes but I didn’t want to ruin what she’d prepared, so waited patiently. It was from then on that I had the biggest grin plastered across my face and it stayed there for the rest of the day. I wish I could relive it over and over as everything was just perfect and so filled with joy.

Now, we’re in full wedding planning mode. With one venue appointment done and several booked for this month, with the invitations designed and the guest list almost written, along with preparing to try on my first bridal dresses this weekend… life couldn’t be any better!

Get involved in the Great British Bee Count 2018

This year at Dennis Publishing, the company is supporting The Bumblebee Conservation Trust – a UK based charity dedicated to reversing the dramatic decline in the bumblebee population by ensuring the country is filled with suitable habitats rich in colourful wildflowers.

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uksafari.com @2009 Rosemary Lehan

Bumblebees are vital in the survival of the planet. These small striped creatures, along with other insects, are responsible for pollinating more than 80% of the crops grown for humans to eat – that’s around 400 different types of plants, including fruits, vegetables and nuts. However, our wild bee population still faces many threats from intensive farming, habitat loss and climate change.

On 17 May, Friends of the Earth launched their fifth annual Great British Bee Count. They’re encouraging the public to identify and record all of the different species of bee they spot until 30 June – of which approximately 270 have been recorded in Great Britain. To help with telling the different bees apart, Friends of the Earth have published a handy identification guide, which can be found here.

Nature: Exploring my forte

My writing career began at one of the most famous wildlife and nature titles in the world… National Geographic Kids. Now, among other pages, I’m the sole writer of the Animals and the Environment page for The Week Junior and have never been happier to provide content on such a wonderful topic that is so close to my heart.

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Every week, I research and pitch stories suitable for the Animals and the Environment section of the magazine, but since we are limited to the number of stories we can feature, many amazing tales go untold. So each week, I’m planning on sharing my favourite wildlife story to spread awareness and, overall, joy when it comes to the wonderful world of nature.

A whole new world: going freelance

I’m so excited to be back to blogging! Since becoming a full-time writer, my blog has sadly fell by the way side as I completely and wholeheartedly immersed and dedicated myself to perfecting my style of writing.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 22.19.06For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to take on freelance projects. I believe freelancing will help me develop and broaden my knowledge and experience even further, and now just feels like the right time to branch out and begin my new chapter.

Without sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet, I have a really exciting future ahead of me. I recently got engaged to someone who’s job entails a lot of travelling so I know that freelance writing would be the perfect fit. What with wedding planning in full swing and the prospect of taking on new challenges and projects, I’ve never felt happier.

Writing for a weekly current affairs magazine has shown me that I am capable of writing about any topic in any length, whether it be full page features or news stories told in just 45 words.

On the topic of freelance projects… yesterday I received an email confirming that I had been accepted as a Standard level writer on Copify! I had submitted my CV and a sample of work over the weekend, and was surprised to have been confirmed so quickly (the website said it could take up to seven days). So I’m looking forward to getting started and being able to sink my teeth into some copywriting projects.

I’ll of course be keeping my page updated with all the exciting ventures I begin and I look forward to seeing where this takes me.

Until next time…