Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap June 3rd, 2018

Mercedes De Bruyn, United Dog Foundation, mid campaign in Noord

True to her promise to organized the second Spay and Neuter project in May 2018, Mercedes De Bruyn, United Dog Foundation, arrived here with a team of veterinary surgeons and technicians to perform surgeries, during a 4-day clinic in Noord, aiming at successfully sterilize up to 400 dogs. Their focus is stray dogs, no owned-strays, no pedigrees, and they successfully recruited help from a large number of local volunteers, I saw Inge van Roon of Animal Rights, and I understand Zoe Conijn of Luna Caring Team, and Dyane of Sgt Pepper’s Friends, are in the mix.

On their first day, Mercedes reports they operated 96 animals, cats and dogs. They have enough working vets and care-takers, and their trapper teams are bringing in street dogs/cats, from various neighborhoods.

It’s a big undertaking with registration, sedation, surgery, recovery and aftercare departments, all on a shoe-string budget in the crumbling former post office in Noord with towels covering broken windows, and ancient, lazy, air conditioners that haven’t worked in years, in rebellion against the order to now cool the surgery room down.

But it works like clockwork, volunteer pickup trucks come in loaded with traps, delivering patients. Most of them looking tense and unhappy. Trapping requires patience and love, besides incredible stamina and determination. Some of the traps used were made by WEMA, some donated by Philip Animal Garden.

It sucks to send all these lovable four-legged dog/cats back into the street post-op, but it is a reality, a few hours after their procedure animals are released back into their former environments.

The volunteers keep track of that. It’s not an easy job. You cannot make a mistake here. The dog/cat must be returned to the right place otherwise he/she will be chased away by the resident population.    

I met Ritz Carlton Resort Manager Louella Brezovar on Sunday at the Noord location, next to Total Finance, across CMB, she delivered bottled water, ice, a fan. Earlier in the month, she mapped the location of 35 dogs, adults and puppies in the Alto Vista area – unfortunately, a favorite dumping ground for unwanted animals. She helped trap them this weekend and basically says, her neighborhood, is now free of sexually active strays, they have all been neutered.

 I met Debbie Kunder an Animal Shelter volunteer with Jacqueline Boderie, Criollo Trappers, they came in with a truck load of traps from the Calabas area. The dogs in their traps were young, and in an OK shape, once neutered and returned to their neighborhood of origin, they will resume miserable life on the street, but unable to procreate, they will not be burdened by puppies, which is a huge relief.

A tourist walked in, in bikini, hand-carrying a donation. She adopted a cunucu dog last year, while on vacation here, and returned this year with a token of appreciation for the volunteers.

The question remains:

How do you teach the locals to spay and neuter their owned-strays?

That is a big challenge.

Stimami Sterilisami already spend over half a million florins on the campaign designed to give pets a better life, but locals here do not respond fast enough, and many unwanted animals are the result of this total public indifference.

I don’t understand. We are NOT A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY, we are a first world country and we should be able to help our pets, by becoming more responsible owners.

Sure, the rescue of puppies and kittens in noble and admirable, but we have to get to the core of the problem, which is reproductive control. We spend so much money on glitter and feathers in Carnival, we should be able to spay and neuter our pets, with the subsidy of Stimami Sterilisami, it’s a low-cost procedure.

BEFORE SIGNING OFF: The government HAS to introduce a dog tag program. Anyone who wants to have a dog/cat must present at the local vet for a tag, and vaccinations. You may charge Awg 45 for the government tag, then extra for the vaccinations. At Awg 75 for neutering, which is subsidized by the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, you will enjoy your pet, and save our community from unwanted animals.

IN A PERFECT WORLD: We should have a teacher, going from school to school, a paid for Animal Rights advocate, a professional, making her/his way through our educational system to teach children about proper care to cats and dogs.

Overwhelming traffic congestion

Did you notice that our roads are jam packed with cars, and that as of recently the traffic congestion has become overwhelming?

Yes, of course, main roads are under construction but besides road blocks and detours, every 4th car on the island is now RHD.

These Japanese, second-hand, at least 10 years old cars have flooded the market. They are dumped here and sold for a bundle, Awg 7,800 for a TWELVE-YEAR-OLD Suzuki Swift is not cheap. And the age of the car is responsible for the proliferation of Divi tree garages, and dead cars abandoned in backyards.

Why from Japan? Because the clever Japanese government taxes owners of older cars, for fear of pollution, so the Land of the Rising Sun residents regularly buy themselves more environmentally-friendly cars and send their junk here.

The situation on the roads is becoming unmanageable.

Sunday morning, the line at the Palm Beach traffic light stretched out to the Locals Store.

Why aren’t RHD vehicles outlawed?

Whose cousin in selling them?

He must be well connected and un-touchable

Because TEN years ago, then again THREE years ago, ACDA, the Aruba Car Dealers’ Association proposed to the government that cars older than five years couldn’t be imported anymore. They could be LHD or RHD but not older than 5 years.

Nothing happened.

BTW: 69% of the world’s counties drive LHD cars, 163 countries and territories; and the rest of the world most of the former British colonies, RHD.  

At the time, the meeting with the minister included insurance companies and the Police. The former MinJust tried and the former MinPres nixed.

Can we try again?

If there is no ban on driving RHD cars now, there should be a ban on importing more, they shouldn’t be allowed into Aruba, because they do not meet safety and emission standards.

Att MinPres, MinJust – the ball is in your court.

Ban addition RHD cars from entering, no spare parts either, and the problem will go away.

Capping VS Mining

I hear both terms, apropos Parkietenbos dump, so I asked the experts what they mean:

Capping is the isolation of whatever’s in the landfill from being exposed. All landfills are capped at the end of their lives. Which means they are covered, with a final layer, destined to become parks and recreation areas. I saw a good documentary about Staten Island which had the largest dump in the world, it was eventually capped and turned it into a green area, serving its people in many ways.

Check out Fresh Kills Landfill on YouTube.

Of course, they have taken measures before the final layer was applied, to allow the living, churning chemical soup in the belly of the heap to emit gasses to permissible exposure limits. The mess continue to have a second-hand life once capped, and special chimneys and tunnels are built into the mound to allow the venting of gases into the atmosphere.

Capping sounds great, we need more parks and green areas, but it is worrisome that if Parkietenbos is capped then chemicals buried underneath will find their way into the ocean, and contaminate our drinking water at WEB, our beer at Balashi. But I guess it’s already happening. Anthony Hagedoorn, Sail Tranquilo, documents it every day.

Vote for capping, you cover the shame up with a special carpet and it disappears from sight.

How about Mining, I asked?

Mining is remediation and/or removal of whatever is lying there, I was told.  For it to be removed it has to be exposed again, which will cause great stinky nuisance to the surroundings. It is also dangerous, because it’s really a mystery what’s lying underneath, we don’t know what’s buried in the dump. And remember that most subterranean fires are extinguished because of oxygen deprivation, digging the mess back up exposes the hot material to air causing BIG fires.

Digging it up and taking it to San Nicholas to be dumped within the refinery walls? 

It will be VERY difficult to mine Parkietenbos, not impossible, however IT WILL BE VERY expensive. There is barely anything usable left that can make money, in the waste. Aruba will hand over lots of cash for the so-called mining of the landfill.

Whomever does the mining will charge an arm and a leg since there are no records of what’s buried there and one has to be prepared for anything.

So, mining is costly, but yes, it will eliminate the dump and reduce the left-overs to manageable bales, just the way ECOTECH /ECOGAS already reduces and compacts our household waste.

As I already mentioned, there is an ongoing discussion about moving the dump to the defunct RDA. That’s a thought, it will provide employment to residents there. The refinery is a junk-yard already why not turn it into a dump?

I just read that Serlimar is buying new equipment, which means it is not going anywhere, it is here to stay, a poorly organized, inefficient, bureaucratic and non-productive government agency.

Botica di Servicio delivers good news to wearers of contact lenses

Botica di Servicio just introduced its own house-brand of contact lenses OPTINOVA, two different kinds, a 10-pack of daily disposable lenses, and a monthly pack, both made with Hyaluron, a soft, water-containing gel, which make the lenses so thin, pliable, and easy on the eyes.

Best of all, because of smart buying strategies, the prices are now slashed in half.

Contact lenses are an integral part of our lives and are the preferred option for those feeling awkward in glasses, but it is an expensive choice on Aruba.

The new OPTINOVA brand, at affordable prices, is guaranteed to win your heart, and is available at all Botica di Servicio locations here: Palm Beach, Noord, Eagle, Botica Maria in Seroe Preto.

The Boticas carry a big inventory of lenses, from -10.00 to +4.00, so you can mix and match and finally have clear vision, at half of what it used to cost you. 

Ate Mulder, Senior Managing Pharmacist at Botica Di Servicio reports he used to bring disposable lenses for friends and family members back from his travels since buying them on the island became costly, then he decided to look into the possibility of creating a house-brand for the pharmacies. The idea caught on and a top Dutch manufacturer was picked for the job, giving birth to OPTINOVA: Spherical contact lenses which have the same lens power throughout the entire optical part of the lens to correct myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).

Get yours today at the Botica di Servicio closest to your home or office.

Visitors will be pleased to hear that OPTINOVA lenses are long lasting, and a one or two-year stock may be bought in Aruba and put to good use in the USA.  

The lenses do not require a prescription; thus, they are available for purchase by anyone.


Dreaded Dredging

I am certainly not an expert but it seems to me that dredging is a temporary maneuver at best, not a lasting solution.

What we really need is the following: Mooring laws, enforced water sports operations’ permits tied to mechanical inspections, elimination of all plastic and foam material/supplies on the beaches, on-going beach clean-up programs by all hotels and GOA.

But here we are confronted with a fait accompli, here, eat it, dredging.

The dreaded dredging was postponed since February 9th, because of high season considerations, and it is back to hound us now.

WTF? Don’t you have anything better to do with ATA’s money.

The only one benefiting from this enormous hoopla is the contractor who, judging from the company’s name, is also the operator of a fish restaurant in a modest local shipyard, at the Veradero marina.

I spoke to a great number of people. The response is consistently NAY,  

The SIX months plan to physically remove the fine slippery gook under toes – muck, silt, snot – the result of organic material build-up in the warm water, in ridiculous.

Where is the scientific data, the research indicating that dredging is the way to go??

You were supposed to test and publish the results.

Did you test?

You certainly did not publish.

The dredging will stir the water resulting in a milky silty surface for miles, coating fish and corals, depriving them from oxygen. You know what happens when living organisms are breaded with flour-like sticky coats.

Most people I spoke to said: “Leave it alone, it’s seasonal, it comes and goes, let nature take care of itself.”

Better take care of the Bubali water overflow running into the ocean below Phoenix responsible for most of the contamination.

It is not smart to tinker with the beach at the start of Hurricane season and Turtle Nesting season.

What’s wrong with you people, why fix something that ain’t broke?

Let’s go back in history:

Most Palm Beach Resorts received a letter from the ministry of tourism informing them that effective Feb 9th portions of their beach will be closed for six weeks at the time for dredging, paid for by GOA who committed to do it, contractor paid, machinery on standby.

The shocking news was met with a mix of reactions from over-my-dead-body, to ok, shrug, but-not-now.

It’s May and tourism is still rocking, the potential upset caused to guests is off the chart; 2018 is a banner year, don’t interrupt momentum by useless maintenance.

Besides, where is the science that says that indeed dredging is the way to go?

And what is the long term environmental impact of dredging of that kind?

Surfside was recently dredged, did the situation there improve?

We have more questions than answers.

As a rule, decisions of this magnitude must be taken in consultation with the involved partners otherwise the road to hell and financial ruin is paved with good intentions. 


Aruba Birdlife Conservation speaks

Nature Conservation Court Case number 9.

The verdict of May 30th, 2018, in the case that Aruba Birdlife Conservation has named “Mission Rescue Warbler Street” was the ninth (yes: 9) court case that AB has conducted in an ongoing effort to stop the destruction of Aruba’s Bubali Wetlands. The first verdict dates back to June 7th, 2016.

Some chronological perspective demonstrates how this Aruban nature conservation foundation reached to this point.

In 2011, Aruba Birdlife Conservation launched the first campaign to get the Shoco, Aruba’s Burrowing Owl, protected. The Shoco is an endemic subspecies and Aruba is the only country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands that has a Burrowing Owl. Its numbers have been diminishing and it is estimated that there are only some 200 pairs remaining in Aruba. This subspecies is classified by ABC as critically endangered with a realistic chance of going extinct. In 2012 the Shoco was proclaimed a National Symbol of Aruba.

In 2012, ABC proposed to Parliament of Aruba to protect sixteen (16) nature areas and get them placed under Parke Nacional Arikok. In February 2013, this proposal was made into a motion and all 21 members of Aruba’s Parliament voted, in a unanimous fashion, in favor of protecting these 16 (today for technical reasons referred to as “the 19 areas”.

In 2014, ABC proposed to the Government to declare the Prikichi, Aruba’s Brown Throated Parakeet, the second endemic subspecies of birds that Aruba has, the National Bird of Aruba. In 2017, the Government of Aruba declared the Prikichi Aruba’s National Bird. The number of Prikichis in Aruba has declined dramatically during the past 8 years. This subspecies is also classified by ABC as critically endangered and there is also a realistic chance that next to the Shoco, that the Prikichi will also go extinct.

In November 2016 Aruba Birdlife Conservation published its book “Bird Wildlife of Aruba”. Evidence was needed to prove to the Government that bird wildlife in Aruba was important and the book could help prove the presence and significance of Aruba’s bird wildlife. The book consists of 432 pages and contains among others the bird check list of Aruba with 254 species of birds. Next to the birds’ scientific names, their names are presented in English, Papiamento, Dutch and Spanish. This is more relevant than may seem at first. Many school teachers who wanted to promote nature awareness in their class rooms got stuck when wanting to conduct research. The teachers knew of many names of birds in the local Papiamento language but could not find much in Papiamento on internet. The checklist thus became a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for teachers and students, enabling them to move forward with their nature conservation efforts. The check list has since been regularly updated and on March 18, 2018 the most recent version was published containing 266 species of birds. Another 12 new species of birds were added in just a short period as two years.

In September 2016 Aruba Birdlife Conservation started a national campaign, a petition, to collect signatures to stop the ongoing and increasing destruction of important nature areas in Aruba, including the Bubali Wetlands, but also the growing threat of building a hotel in the pristine Pos Chiquito mangroves at Isla di Oro. A project that all local nature NGO’s are strongly against. More than 11.000 signatures were collected and in November 2016 the petition was presented to the Prime Minister, the President of Parliament of Aruba and our Governor. In perspective this number of signatures is extremely high. Translating it to the population of the United States, this would entail more than 30 million signatures.

In March 2017 Princes Beatrix, the mother of the King of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, travelled to Aruba to ceremoniously declare Spanish Lagoon part of Parke Nacional Arikok and to support Aruba Birdlife Conservation with its nature conservation efforts. She visited the Bubali Wetlands with volunteers of ABC to see for herself what the extent of the destruction was that had taken place and to encourage the Government of Aruba to get the remaining of the sixteen areas protected.

To date, Spanish Lagoon is the only area of the original 16 that has been declared part of Parke Nacional Aruba. Although the Government has promised Her Royal Highness to place these areas under supervision of Aruba’s National Park and has repeatedly stated that the areas will all be protected, nothing has happened.

While the aforementioned efforts were ongoing, it became apparent to Aruba Birdlife Conservation that the previous minister of infrastructure of Aruba, rather than protecting the areas, was giving out parcels of land to developers for the construction of yet more hotels and condominiums at Aruba’s Wetland Areas. Besides this being in contradiction to the decision in Parliament, ABC discovered also that this was not in accordance with Aruba’s Spatial Planning (R.O.P.), in which it was apparent that these areas were actually nature areas.

It was this dismaying discovery that lead to Aruba Birdlife Conservation’s first court case in 2016. Along the way subsequent discoveries were made of yet more parcels of nature of the Bubali Wetlands that had been promised to the real estate giants. This lead to a barrage of court cases to prevent further destruction of the Bubali Wetlands. And that is how Aruba Birdlife Conservation ended up with having filed 9 court cases. A higher court of appeal verdict is pending this month and on June 15th of 2018, court case number ten (10) is already scheduled. Once again that one will be about protecting the Bubali Wetlands. Court case number 10 concerns the property between The Mill and the House of Cheng, which according to the R.O.P. is a protected nature area.

Aruba Birdlife Conservation has always taken sides for Aruba’s nature in these court cases, be it against the Government or developers, or both. To date ABC has won seven (7) of the nine (9).

One can only imagine how many costs are involved to carry out this amount of court cases, and there is yet more court case will follow in the pipeline, including one to rescue the Mangrove area in Pos Chiquito from being destroyed by building yet another hotel in this very sensitive nature area. It is one of the sixteen areas that ABC has been trying to get protected for the past six years.

Locals as well as our Tourists and Time Share Holders can help Aruba Birdlife Conservation keep up its work to prevent further destruction of the 16 very important nature areas in Aruba by contributing with a donation. Your help will contribute to keeping the quality experience in Aruba at a respectable level and help prevent more nature areas from going lost to excessive and useless hotel and condominium development on the island.

You can make your donation directly to: Foundation Aruba Birdlife Conservation, Aruba Bank NV, Account number 2402860190 (BIC Code: ARUBAWAX). Thank you.

Superfood, the grand supermarket just across from Hotel La cabana, has granted Aruba Birdlife Conservation this month’s fund collection opportunity. You can also swing by Superfood and make your donation to ABC with one of the cashiers.

Aruba Birdlife Conservation takes the opportunity to thank all volunteers and supporters, locals as well as our tourists for their ongoing support. You can help Aruba Birdlife Conservation make a difference. ABC can be followed on Facebook: Aruba Birdlife Conservation.

 By Greg Peterson

Chairman of Foundation Aruba Birdlife Conservation

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June 03, 2018
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