Archive for the ‘Conservation’ category

Not So Country

October 3, 2015

After putting up my Longmire inspired poem last night, I remembered that not long ago I had come across some really old photos of me trying to look country for a photo shoot. It is rather funny, but I tried for a good cause. The photos were taken when I was in college and did some seriously amateur modeling for a group of conservationists looking to protect the Mexican gray wolf. The wolves were reintroduced into the wild for the first time in 1998, in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (between New Mexico and Arizona). I think these photos were taken in 1997 and these were just extra shots that weren’t with the wolves that the photographer took of me. I look better in workout clothes. I’m not so country.
Felicia Lujan_Not So Country

 

 

Lil Tyke Fishing Derby

June 14, 2014

This morning we met Meghan and her husband Andrew (the water expert) at the Santa Fe River. The vital vein in Santa Fe was stocked with 500 fish for a lil tyke fishing derby. We took lil man out for a bit before his first flag football game of the day. It was his first time fishing, but he made sure I knew he was going to “catch and release.” I love my considerate, Earth loving son. I think he needs lessons from the expert fisherman~ my brother, Thomas. We saw a grip of people we knew near the river. It was a nice morning. Glad to show my love for our precious river.

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Wild: My New Theme

May 23, 2014

Here is my new web design. I call this one “Wild.” I adore this quote by Stuart Udall. He passed away here in Santa Fe in 2010. People should have love affairs with things that matter. Yes…Indeed.

Cherish sunsets, wild creatures and wild places.
Have a love affair with the wonder and beauty of the earth.

~~~~~~Stewart Udall
Wild

Death by Curare: A Love of Blowguns

April 24, 2014

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~“Blowing Poison in the Amazon” a digital rendering by Felicia Lujan~

For some time I have been fascinated with blowguns. These low tech tools or weapons used mostly by indigenous peoples in the rainforest are also referred to as blowpipes or blow tubes. A blowgun is traditionally made of a long tube of organic material such as bamboo. The tube is used to fire poisoned darts or other projectiles by blowing air by mouth into the tube.

I first became intrigued with the blowgun when one of my all time favorite fantasy films was released in 1985. I was a ten year old girl with a wild imagination. In Legend, a poisoned blowdart was used by the evil goblins to kill a unicorn in a dark fairy tale which I favor. I now own that movie and still watch it often. The blowgun made such an impression on me that I authored a poem titled “Blowdart” in February of 2013.

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~The talking book and player on the chair in my office.~

For the last few days, I have been listening to a talking book while I work. This book along with a book my son and I read on poison dart frogs, made me want to research further into the history and use of the blowgun. After listening to my talking book, and doing some research, I am more fascinated by not only blowguns, but by medicine men.

Listening to Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice has been so interesting. The book was read and written by Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D. Dr. Plotkin is a famous ethnobotanist who searches “for new medicines in the Amazon Rainforest and said “everytime a shaman dies, it is as if a library burned down.” This is a very sad realization. There is so much oral history to be lost with death.

Dr. Plotkin spent an amazing amount of time studying the shamans of the northeast Amazon and his book is indeed mind blowing. There is something about actually listening to him tell the story. I could hear his love and enthusiasm for the Amazon, nature and research in his voice. I was particularly struck by his interest in the indigenous use of blowguns.

The indigenous peoples of the Amazon, South and Central America, and South East Asia utilize blowguns as do the Native Americans of North America. These people have used both round projectiles as well as handmade darts for ammunition. I tend to favor those cultures which lace the tips of their darts with poison. This is done to cause paralysis and death.

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~A Poison Dart Frog~

The type of toxins used on tipped darts to cause paralysis and death vary from culture to culture. Indigenous peoples use curare, a plant based extract or the frothy secretions of toxic frogs to tip darts. Native Americans have been known to extract toxins from the Golden Poppy. The amount of poison used, and the level of penetration seem to play key roles in the life or death of the receiver.

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~The Golden Poppy~

On September 17, 1864, London’s Illustrated Times published a short piece titled “The Woorali Arrow Poison.” This historic news article says “from the fact that this poison, introduced into the system by the blood vessels, causes paralysis and death in the course of a few minutes, it has been erroneously inferred that death by curare is perfectly free from pain of any kind.” Dr. Claude Bernard’s experiments with curare showed that “one limb after another becomes gradually paralyzed…” He assumed death by curare was not painless as an animal retains intellect during the course of paralysis, which “gradually extended to the respiratory organs” causing suffocation.

On September 16, 1993, the Indiana Gazette ran an article on Dr. Plotkin by Nita Lelyveld, a writer with the Associated Press. He is truly an amazing man. The article was titled “Scientist Learns Healing Secrets from Rain Forest’s Medicine Men.” In this piece, there is a photo of the handsome scientist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” What a great image! It was awesome to read this story. I’m in love with this ethnobotonist. Again, Dr. Plotkin’s professional passion was evident.

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~The handsome ethnobotanist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” ***Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press~

At the time of that article and the release of his book (1993), Dr. Plotkin was working with Conservation International. He is still on a conservation mission. That is commendable. Today he is president of the Amazon Conservation Team. His team is working with indigenous peoples in order to protect our magical rainforests. He is a very special man with a love of poisoned darts, blowguns, and medicinal cures.

When I first became intrigued with the blowgun, I was just a girl. I had and still have a wild imagination. As a young girl I could never understand the importance of conservation and preservation. If it were not for experts like Dr. Plotkin and the late Dr. Bernard, people like me would never learn about some things. I can only imagine what it is like to be a scientist studying in the rainforest. It must be an empowering, humbling and fulfilling experience.

I am not a scientist, but I am a writer. Through writing I can mentally experience those things I may never be able to do. Through writing, I can spread Dr. Plotkin’s message. Through writing, I can shoot a blowgun. Through writing, I can extract toxins and make curare. Through writing, I can become a poisoned dart. Through writing, I can administer death by curare.

Whale Fins and Heartache: Conserve for the Greater Good

August 7, 2012
Watching the Killer Whales in San Diego, CA - Sea World on 8.7.12

Watching the Killer Whales in San Diego, CA – Sea World on 8.7.12

Today we spent the day in San Diego, California. We went to visit Sea World– home of the most famous Killer Whales and numerous other amazing animals. I am such an animal lover. Trips like these offer me an opportunity to learn so much. I learn just as much about myself as I do about each environment I engross myself in. Something in me has changed. It is for the good of course. Sometimes I think it’s strange, but nevertheless, it has happened. I am different. The last time I went to Sea World I don’t remember wondering or caring if the animals liked living there?? The same thing happened to me over a year ago at the Rio Grande Zoo in my home state (Albuquerque, NM). For some reason, I now feel bad for these majestic creatures? They should be free- like me…. I feel sort of guilty thinking about using them for my entertainment. Weird in some ways I guess- but I think that if the animals are smart enough to perform all of these intricate tricks and communicate effectively with humans, they must be smart enough to realize that they are not free right?? I don’t know? I am known for over thinking things. I mean I don’t think the world needs to do aways with Sea World– I do want my son to have a chance to enjoy being a child and doing the things I did as a child. For him it was worth it. It is just good for me to include at least some education with the entertainment. I was glad that Sea World now screens a great educational video about conservation efforts, pollution, over fishing, and animal protection. Today I learned something new. I learned about sustainable seafood. I took time to find out more on the way back from San Diego. I have purchased tons of salmon, shrimp, scallops, and other fish over the years and often see “wild caught” or “farm raised” on the package. I must admit that I had not a clue about what that would mean? Today I learned that as consumers, we should always choose farm raised. Wild caught fish are from the ocean and we are over fishing (translation–killing the ocean). Some fish may eventually become endangered and die off. So today I had a good lesson from the Killer Whales. Now I can make better, more educated choices that help us to protect our ocean friends.

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