It was a cold bleak Yorkshire day.

It was a cold bleak Yorkshire day.

Heavy rain clouds hung on the horizon threatening a torrential downpour but we decided against the rainproofs. The sun was already blistering; the air so heavy with moisture that you could bathe in it. If it rained it would be a relief. We’d be soaked but our shorts and T-shirts would soon dry off. We set off along the rainforest trail to the music of cicadas and unseen birds.

The forest has a sweet scent of decay and vitality. Everywhere there is green – green leaves, green fronds, green lianas and green epiphytes. It feels alive. We are strangers in a new fecund world. We are searching for animals, our cameras at the ready. We find some too.

By the end of two weeks we have photographed sloths, iguanas, turtles, agoutis, parrots, macaws, flycatchers, monkeys, caiman, butterflies, moths and dozens more – each a delight to discover and a wonder to see. We have watched spider monkeys at play and capuchin monkeys cracking open coconuts, sloths slowly clambering through the foliage and huge iguanas, like dragons, clinging to tree trunks.

It felt so alive.

Our skin rusted in the sun and humidity. Our bodies adjusted, sitting on deck watching the jungle slip past, with a cool breeze in our face; rushing to put on our scant clothing to scamper up to the top for the sunrise, to search the deck at first light for giant moths, butterflies and beetles; sorting where to go, down jungle trails, canoe rides, or simply walking around. When in the unfamiliar even the ordinary is extraordinary. It is amazing how quickly one adjusts. This is our new normality.

Slowly we return home. The sun gradually loses its intensity. People take every opportunity to relish the last of its warmth, some asleep on loungers, some reading, some watching the seas for whales, dolphins or seabirds. We have left the tropical heat behind.

Back home we unpack, start on the mound of washing and go for a walk. No shorts, T-shirt and sandals but wrapped in layers of shirts, jumpers and thick coat topped off with hats, scarves and gloves.

Walking down the lane, looking out over the waterlogged green fields I could not help thinking what a mess we’ve made of it. This was the green Yorkshire countryside. Before the industrial revolution a landscape of forest, full of wildlife, now an endless denuded green desert, with just the odd crow and pigeon, plus a few creatures clinging on in the remaining hedgerows.

We live in the vestiges of the wonder of what once was. All over the world 8 billion mouths are busy devouring miracles.

Even in my lifetime I have seen the decline.

The bitter wind bites into my face. Rust is fading as the memories fade, as nature fades, tree by tree, hedge by hedge, ditch by ditch, bug by bug.

I have no camera with me. There is little to photograph. The creatures of my youth have disappeared.

It was a cold bleak Yorkshire day.

Poetry – Deserts – A poem for nature.

Poetry – Deserts – A poem for nature.


I was travelling back from London on the train, belting past field after field of stubble. The harvest was in.

The only things moving were the odd crows and pigeons.

This was England. Where once used to stretch unbroken, dense forest, rustling to the sounds of insects, trilling to bird call, and providing food for deer, wild boar, bear and wolf, there is now a monocultural desert.

We have systematically cleared the forest to farm the land. The animals were cleared with it. We left tiny oasis of wasteland, woods, hedges and ponds in which the remnants of the rich fauna hung on – rabbits, hare, hedgehogs, newts, lizards, slow-worm, grass snake, dormouse and linnet.

Now they are being cleared. The modern farm equipment has no use for hedge or pond – the bigger the field the better.

Anything that dares to intrude into the desert we create is eliminated with pesticide, herbicide and machine. We don’t need them. They get their just deserts. 

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Travelling through deserts

Filled with lifelessness –

Devoid of anything,

Even pity.


All that moves

Is the enemy

To be eradicated

With alacrity


Big or small

Feather or fin

There’s no room at the inn.


Hedge and pond

Bush and tree

Ripped out

In monocultural crime



Weed and seed,

All past their prime.


Opher 12.9.2016

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Jersey – The Durrell Wildlife Park – Gerald Durrell

Jersey – The Durrell Wildlife Park – Gerald Durrell

‘The animals and plants have nobody to speak up for them except us, the human beings who share the world with them but do not own it.’ – Gerald Durrell 1972.

Gerald Durrell is one of my heroes. He was a naturalist who loved animals. He wrote about his early life on Corfu in the 1930s where he lived with his eccentric family and lived an idyllic life with all the animals he collected.

It was a life I could relate to. I spent my childhood wandering the fields, climbing trees, wading through ditches and ponds and collecting caterpillars, newts, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards and slowworms.

Gerald was passionate about conservation. He set up his Wild-life Park as a conservation project that came straight out of his love of animals. He, like me, was utterly distraught by the cruelty and mindless destruction of nature. He did what he could to conserve it.

I don’t like zoos. I don’t like wild animals being confined in unnatural environments for people to ogle at. But I was taken with this wild-life park.

Gerald Durrell was someone I would love to have met.


Gerald Durrell’s house


A photo of Gerald that reminded me of one of me when I was a similar age holding a chimp.

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Poetry – Space



Once there was enough space

Now we’re in competition

The planet is too small

Seems there’s no room for us all.


We cannot make it bigger

So we have to learn to use less

And leave sufficient

For those

We share this haven with.

There is room enough

For us all prosper

If we could only learn

To respect and share.


Opher – 4.1.2020



Everywhere I look there are too many people taking too much. Nature is being screwed back into a tighter and tighter corner.

8 billion is too many.

We are not alone. We share this precious jewel with many millions of other species. It’s time we started treating them with the respect they deserve. Our arrogance will be our downfall.

Poetry – Salvation



The salvation of nature

Must surely be our priority.

The mesmerising spectacle

Is too precious,

Too rare,

And unique

To squander –

Yet delicate, and



With our pesticides

And chainsaws

We leave


Of destruction.


With our guns,

Our knives,

Hooks and nets

We destroy

Their flesh,

Impoverish populations;

Imperil the web

On which

We all depend.

We are endangering

Our own future.


Opher – 4.1.2020



Life on this planet has evolved over millions of years into a complex interconnecting web. We are all so interdependent. Yet, we come crashing through with our big boots, crushing and impaling, mindlessly destroying the very thing that gives us life.

Put aside the pain and suffering: is it worth selling the future for trinkets?

Man – a genius of a catoon video that illustrates the relationship between mankind and nature.

I have to thank Cheryl and Safar for this link!! This is a must watch video for anybody concerned about man’s impact on the planet!!

Poetry – Denial



Five million creatures fried

As the fires of global warming

Shroud the globe in smoke.

Australia, Indonesia and California burn,

As humanity never seems to learn.

And the ecology of the world lies broke.


Floods, storms and droughts,

In the extreme,

Stalk the world.

Glaciers melt,

Corals bleach

As the tragedy unfurled.


Despite the palls of smoke

Filling the sky

There are still those

Who will deny.


Opher – 2.1.2020



They estimate that five hundred million creatures have already been burnt to death in the terrible fires sweeping through Australia.

Three years of severe drought followed by a record high temperature has produced a catastrophe waiting to happen.

It has been replicated in Indonesia and California.

While hurricanes, typhoons and tropical storms batter countries, sea levels rise, desertification increases, seas warm, corals bleach and there is record rainfall and floods.

All predictably following the computer modelling.

Once again the hottest global temperature on record.

What were one in a century events are now happening every year.

I sit in Britain where we have flooded towns, fields that resemble lakes and a year’s rainfall falling in days.

Carbon Dioxide levels are at a record. The greenhouse effect is real. Yet there are those who still believe this is nothing to do with man, is just a natural cycle and deny any link.

They point to solar output.

Yet they is no increased solar activity. There is a greenhouse effect though.

Trump, Xi Jinping, Bolsonaro and Morrison just want to burn fossil fuel for short-term profit. They don’t give a damn about the future.

I wish a plague of fleas, leeches and horse-flies on all of them.

Surely, even if it were caused by solar effects, there are things we can do to rectify the situation. We could move to renewables and away from coal, oil and gas. We could plant trees. We could stop destroying forests and wetlands. These things would not do any harm and might solve the problem (however it was caused).

Let’s get the carbon dioxide out of the damn atmosphere, protect our wildlife, limit our numbers and start behaving responsibly!!!

Good and Bad news from the Conservation front.

Poetry – Gorilla – an elegy to the inevitable demise of a relative of ours.

Poetry – Gorilla – an elegy to the inevitable demise of a relative of ours.


We share ninety nine per cent of our genes with the chimpanzees and gorillas. They are the closest relatives we have left after we eradicated our fellow human Neanderthals.

They are sentient, intelligent and peaceful. We are sentient, intelligent and ruthless.

They are hunted for bush-meat. Their babies are prised away from their dead mothers and sold. Their hands and feet are hacked off and sold as trophies.

The forests they live in are opened up with logging roads for the hunters to exploit; then the trees are sawn down to leave bare soil.

Their numbers decrease and the destruction is relentless as our numbers soar and greed, selfishness and necessity create a tsunami that is rolling over nature.

It fills me with hopeless despair.


Ninety nine per cent of us

Living wild and free;

Tight-knit family –

How we’d like to be.


Wandering, playing at ease

As they roam around.

Eating, watching

Secure in their ground.


Around them trees are tumbling

Sounds of chain-saws whir;

Disturbing peace,

Shivering the fur.


Yet it could be a sly shot

To snag easy meat,

Snatching a baby –

Chopping trophy feet.


Encroaching ever nearer


Cruel destruction

Writings on the wall.


Opher 16.7.2015