Tag Archives: environment

Let’s walk with King Julien

Since 2008 visitors to the zoo in Augsburg have been able to walk with a ring-tailed lemur. This lovely creature will accompany you in one of the most beautiful experiences in your life. These creatures are really friendly with people, they jump and run free and, with some luck, they will land on your back or shoulders. But don’t try to touch them! As beautiful and smooth as they seem to be, they’re wild animals and can bite.

lemurThe origin

These animals are part of the family of strepsirrhine primates and are extremely vocal and have unique calls to warn about predator species, for group communication, for location, feeding and being lost. Their vocalizations consist of meows, clicks, yaps, screams, purring, squeaks and moans: as you will see in the zoo, the Augsburg lemurs are very communicative. They spend a lot of time sunbathing and playing with the other members of the group. Unfortunately, their conservation status is considered endangered by the IUCN Red List (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/11496/0), the main threat to their population being habitat destruction.

The origin of the name and popular legends

Their name refers to the Latin word lemurum, meaning spirit. Because of their name, they play a part in legends in Roman mythology. People believed that the animals were the restless spirits of the undead. They thought proper burial of their loved ones would help to prevent this. Seeing a lemur was often viewed as an omen that something terrible was going to happen. It’s also because of the popular origin of such stories, though, that their very existence is threatened, as villagers hunt and trap them. They also take money from hunters that come for the thrill of killing the legendary lemurs of Madagascar.

Ring-tailed lemurs become famous: the film Madagascar

These little animals have become familiar to us after the film, Madagascar, which introduced the figure of the lemur, King Julien. After this, many people began to be interested in the creatures. Then a big research project worldwide about these creatures came into being, and in many zoos in the world you can walk with them and study their behaviour as if they were in the wild. Therefore, although these animated films are fun and delightful, they don’t depict the true nature of lemurs, of course, but, if seen in combination with other animated films and documentaries, they’re a useful tool for educating people about the needs of the species.

Author & Picture: Althea Mandelli

A camping experience

IMG-20170109-WA0129It’s a sad fact of life that our daily lives can become really stressful. If it’s not exams or work, it’s family or other obligations. Our daily routine is planned right down to the last detail, minute by minute: appointments, deadlines and the like. So how can we break out of this vicious circle, at least for a little while? Read on…

Escape the pressureIMG-20170109-WA0173

In order to stay healthy and function well, we have to find a release for stress and all our preoccupations. For some this means going out with friends, while for others it’s spending a day on the couch with their favorite TV show. What works best for me is spending time outside: disconnecting from everything and just enjoying the peace and quiet for a little while.

All it takes is a tent

If I feel overwhelmed or stressed out, I pack my tent, my sleeping bag, some basic supplies and my best travel companion. If it’s just a weekend getaway or a longer trip, depends, of course, on my university schedule. But my all-time favorite is escaping from the noise and crowded streets, preferably somewhere with long hiking trails and mountains to climb. A place with a breathtaking view where you can just put up your tent, get comfortable at the campfire and take out your guitar.

Just about anywhere is fine

Now you might not find places with these criteria everywhere, especially if you only have a weekend or even just one day. Maybe your perfect place to chill is your parents’ backyard or the forest close by. Personally, the occasional camping trip is a great way to help balance my daily life and to recharge my batteries for the return to reality.

IMG-20170109-WA0120Be ready to disconnect

For the best possible outcome, I recommend you turn off your cellphone and just rely on your basic communication skills. Take your guitar if you have one, or a pencil and paper and play a round of good old battleships. Talk about whatever comes to mind or just listen to the sound of nature. See if you like camping as much as I do!

Author: Caroline Müller
Pictures: Cristian Imilan

Jackaroo / Jillaroo Down Under

jillDuring my backpacking time in Australia, I decided to do some real Aussie stuff and get an insight into the jackaroo/jillaroo lifestyle. A jackaroo/jillaroo is somebody who lives and works on a sheep or cattle station – and well, there are about 70 million sheep in Australia, but only about 23.6 million people! Online, I found this horse breeding and sheep station farm near Bingara, in the northeast of New South Wales, called “Garrawilla”. After I had contacted John and his girlfriend and helping hand Natusha, I booked my train and bus tickets, packed all my stuff, and was definitely ready to go on an adventure!

I was warmly welcomed at the bus stop by John with “Hello, my little German!” and after we had had dinner together with Nat and Jorjah, a jillaroo-to-come, we drove to his farm, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The next day, after a good long sleep, I finally saw where I would be living for the next few weeks. Surrounded by large fields, hills, and about 400 horses scattered everywhere, Garrawilla began to make me feel tiny, really just like the “little German” I was/am?, apparently – it was just so huge! After our typical porridge and coffee breakfast on the terrace at about 8am, John and I usually started work (which didn’t feel like work at all) by driving the horses to the yards with his ute (a four-wheel drive pickup), his not-always-working motorcycle or quad. You know, it takes quite a lot of courage to stand cramped together in between 30 horses, only holding a stick to guide them to different places (I think my heartbeat was about 200 the first few times!).

JohnsUteBy telling me all his stories about his family and friends, his various jobs on the farm and all the bloody Germans he’d met, John taught me many useful, important things about how to treat horses properly. He always illustrated his wisdom with real-life examples: often myself. I can tell you, getting dirt smeared in the face or being poked in the bottom with a pencil is not the nicest way to start your day! For the next few weeks, we would make young horses used to wearing a halter, teach them to lead and give and also get them to have a saddle on for the first time. Breaking in horses was one of the main tasks on the farm. Apart from that, we did some fencing (a pretty hard job, really), drove in and sheared sheep, fed all his working dogs and rode the horses, of course!

John also offers tourist rides in town along the Gwydir River, but we also did a lot of horse riding on the farm itself. Not only to check on the horses in the fields and hills, but also to drive them in or teach them to be ridden. But the greatest feeling was cantering across the Gwydir River, water splashing everywhere and the wind blowing in my hair.

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Then, at some point, I didn’t feel touristy or foreign anymore, but I had found a place that felt like a second home. My inner cowgirl had found her own level. On Garrawilla, you get that once-in-a-lifetime experience with great people and amazing things to learn, and, as John told me when we went on our first ride: “As long as you don’t break your neck, you’re gonna be fine!”

If you want to collect memories like these yourself, visit their Facebook page: Jackaroo Jillaroo Down Under.

Author & Pictures: Rebecca Pichler

Plastic? – No, thanks!

“We know that when we protect our oceans we’re protecting our future.”- Bill Clinton

Almost three months ago, on June 8, was World Oceans Day, dedicated to our oceans, which are polluted by mankind, and to ways how to protect them. But actually every day should be World Oceans Day, so let’s take a closer look at why the oceans are so important for our planet and how exactly plastic is harming them!

The ocean and its superpowers 1_neu

The impact of the oceans on the Earth is much bigger than most of us might be aware of. They’re a true marvel of nature: they absorb a high percentage of carbon dioxide emitted by mankind, are one of the main producers of the oxygen we breathe and provide rainwater, drinking water and much of our food. On top of that, the oceans are the habitat for millions of species.

Unfortunately, mankind doesn’t recognize the importance of the oceans for a balanced environment. Some, but by no means all of the negative impacts our society has on this eco system are: overfishing, the destruction of the habitat and pollution. So what can YOU do to protect the seas?

You are what you consume

Urgent action to protect the oceans is needed. Often, there’s a big gap between motivation and realization, but acting more consciously and in an environmentally friendly way in your everyday life already makes a difference.

Have you noticed t20160622_195544hat lots of German grocery, drug and even clothing stores don’t offer free plastic bags at the checkout anymore? That’s amazing because these bags end up as trash in our oceans, just like all plastic wrap. It is estimated that 50 to 80 percent of all debris in the ocean is plastic. Sea animals suffer from the trash as well, as they mistake the plastic for food or become entangled and die an excruciating death. So you can imagine that banning these bags from stores is a very important step! But why even buy plastic bags to carry home your groceries? Just take a reusable bag – you can actually get them in trendy designs!

The plastic or paper cups coffee to go comes in are just as bad. Don’t worry – you don’t have to give up on the habit entirely. Just bring your travel mug and have the barista pour your coffee into it. Some cafes even offer a discount if you bring your own cup.

Get Involved!
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If you feel like you need to get involved even more, check out some organizations that would be more than happy about your support, Project AWARE or Pacific Whale Foundation for example, and make a donation or help as a volunteer.

The list of how every single one of us can contribute to healthier oceans goes on and on, so get informed! And don’t forget to spread the word with your friends and family! Let’s start protecting our oceans, they’re way too important to treat them carelessly.

Author & pictures: Henrike Wilhelm

Fighting food waste – Foodsharing in Augsburg

foodwaste 1

I recently read an article in the Augsburger Allgemeine about food waste in Germany: nearly 2 tons of food were thrown away in 10 days at the Mensa of Uni Augsburg! And when I worked at a greengrocer’s in Augsburg, I was able to take a look “behind the scenes” of the food industry. So I saw with my own eyes how much food is actually wasted and how much everything in our capitalist society is based on making a profit. I was shocked when I looked into the garbage cans behind the shop, filled with food that – in my eyes – was still edible. But in other people’s eyes, this food had to be thrown away, because it didn’t look good enough to be put on display in a shop. I came to the conclusion that shopkeepers often don’t value the food they sell– for them, it’s only about making money.

That’s why I think supporting projects like “Foodsharing” is important. Foodsharing is a non-profit organization founded in Germany and their aim is to reduce the waste of resources and food. On the website www.foodsharing.de you can check for “Essenskörbe”, which are posted by people who have food to share. In their post, they describe what they can give away and where you could pick it up. Anyone who is interested can contact this person in order to pick up the food at their place. In the same way, you can offer food to other people via the foodsharing website.

foodwaste 2Also it’s possible to share food via a “Fair-Teiler”, a store room with a fridge which is publically accessible. Food donations can be deposited there, to be collected by anyone interested. Another step in participating actively in foodsharing is becoming a “foodsaver”, which means going to shops which have made an agreement with foodsharing and picking up food they would normally throw away. The foodsavers collect the saved food and share it with their family, friends, neighbors and donate it to social projects.

There are certain rules you have to respect when participating in foodsharing, the most important being that the food you share with the community must still be of good quality to eat. Furthermore, foodsavers commit themselves to collecting the food from shops on a regular basis (In order to become a foodsaver, you need to pass a quick exam on the website and you need to complete three test collections from shops). If not, the shopkeepers would soon lose their interest in giving the food away, because it’d mean extra time and work for them. Another principle is, that alcohol cannot be shared in the Fair-Teiler, because the age of the people who pick up the food cannot be monitored.

In Augsburg, there is a growing foodsharing community. There are several foodsavers and two Fair-Teiler stations, one of them in the Grandhotel Cosmopolis. The Facebook group “Foodsharing Augsburg”, in which ideas about foodsharing are shared and Essenskörbe are linked, has over 2100 members.

foodwaste 3
Personally, I have made use of foodsharing in several occasions and I think it is a wonderful idea. How many students wouldn’t want to save a bit of cash? I always finish my helping. The awareness of the effort it needed for my food to get on the plate, that it had to be planted, watered, harvested, processed and finally cooked, hinders me from just throwing it away. However, there are still a lot of people who apparently don’t mind, or, who are simply not mature enough to know how much they can eat.

I hope that those people who aren’t bothered about our resources are bothered with our current weather and keep the good old German proverb in mind: “If you finish your plate, the sun will shine tomorrow!” We’d really need this to happen. And also, that the food they’re throwing away could save people from starving, in other parts of the world…

Author: Sabrina Huck
Pictures: Elke Thiergärtner (Foodsharing Augsburg)