Appeared in the North Shore News – September 26, 2014
News rains on us incessantly. We must raise an umbrella over matters we choose to save and protect. Today I choose Raju.
Raju is an elephant. Captured as a baby, cruelly abused and shackled in spike chains, Raju spent 50 years as a begging elephant in the Uttar Pradesh region of India. When he was rescued, tears rolled down his cheeks.
If he’d been taught to do this, you have to admit this was one hell of a circus trick.
West Vancouver graphic designer and animal advocate Robin Schade has been spreading the word about Raju, notably around the Ambleside Beach dog walk where she predictably finds sympathetic ears.
Raju was rescued by Wildlife SOS, with an international reach beyond India. The Huffington Post quoted Nikki Sharp, executive director of Wildlife SOS-USA: “The vet and our team came with fruits and just started speaking softly to him and to reassure him that we were there to help, and it was at that time that tears flooded down his face.” In bad shape, he was taken to the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura where he is thriving.
Happy ending? Not yet.
His claimed owner, a Mr. Shahid, charged with illegal custody of Raju and facing a possible jail term of three to seven years, demands his return. The case before India’s High Court has been repeatedly postponed, just days ago to Oct. 13.
Scores of thousands are contributing to Raju’s cause. Robyn Schade notes that a Global March for Elephants and Rhinos is scheduled for Oct. 4 at the Vancouver Art Gallery beginning at 1 p.m. Don’t get me further into the topic. The Chinese have many cultural graces, but sensitivity to animal life isn’t among them – like the fantastic cruelty of cutting shark fins for soup and throwing the helpless sharks overboard – but even more utterly revolting is their commerce in elephant ivory.
A sickening photo recently in the press showed a dead mother elephant and baby killed (as other animals must be) by African poachers, ingeniously poisoning their water holes with cyanide. This is reprehensible beyond words. I wouldn’t buy a single article from China if avoiding its cheap goods flooding world markets were possible.
I may be the only one in the world who is sore about the one thing his many detractors praise him for – that Nixon went to China. Better he should have stood in bed, as used to be said.
The coyness surrounding the Hollyburn Sailing Club lease issue frankly has annoyed me out of my usual cheerfulness.
Two weeks ago I reported Agent Y6xE9j’s claim that the Ambleside Beach club – a martini-glass throw from the not-universally-popular Grosvenor development – might go on a month-to-month lease next year, usually signalling a new use or development. Subsequent reaction to the item from the club only confused my small brain.
It’s been nicely cleared by John Long, West Vancouver’s manager of facilities and assets. The five-and-five lease – five years plus a five-year option to renew – ends Dec. 31. Negotiations are currently under way, but if no agreement were reached, the lease, like all such leases, would continue monthto-month – the basis for Agent Y6xE9j’s warning.
Only three months until the club’s lease expires? To me, that’s sailing close to the wind. Long assured me it isn’t unusual.
What does the club, as a public amenity, pay to lease this deliriously valuable stretch of waterfront? Like all town hall’s leases, the terms are confidential, Long said.
But another agent, 66mPwB, reveals that when the current lease was signed in 2004, the rent was – take a breath – $2,410.67 a year, plus GST. If it’s been bumped up, I’m unaware of it.
Such a deal. And, if there’s been a sticking point in negotiations, maybe that’s what it is.
Speaking of town hall, as I often do, and affectionately: Elections coming! Voters’ last chance on Nov. 15 to register approval or otherwise of candidates old or new until the next ones in 2018.
One new chair to fill: Coun. Trish Panz told council months ago that she wouldn’t run again. Which was hardly noted. I emailed asking if she was joining her personal friend Pam Goldsmith-Jones’s federal election team. No response.
One almost-declared council candidate at this writing: Christine Cassidy, 33 years in the financial services industry and currently on the board of the Ambleside and Dundarave Ratepayers’ Association. She’s raised funds for B.C. Women’s Hospital Health Centre and B.C. Children’s Hospital and has sat on the boards of Ballet BC and the West Vancouver Memorial Library. Early supporters include a couple of vocal critics of what they’re doing up at town hall.
Wanted: At least one opponent for Mayor Mike Smith. Acclaimed in 2011, Smith has said himself he’s not supportive of acclamation.
© Trevor Lautens, 2014