Sixth mass extinction: The era of ‘biological annihilation’

We read, with no small concern, a recent CNN article by John D. Sutter, columnist. He notes several statistics that should not be ignored, such as, “three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries.”

That is a scary thought.

For those of us with DLG Naturals, who live and work in Botswana, home of some of Africa’s most majestic animals, including the elephant, the idea of losing elephants, for example, is depressing.

Anthony Barnosky, executive director of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve at Stanford University, “On the one hand, you can say, ‘All right, we still have around 400,000 elephants in Africa, and that seems like a really big number. But then, if you step back, that’s cut by more than half of what their populations were in the early part of last century. There were well over 1 million elephants (then). And if you look at what’s happened in the last decade, we have been culling their numbers so fast that if we kept up with that pace, there would be no more wild elephants in Africa in 20 years.” (Emphasis added).

And that is just elephants.

Already gone:
In 2008, the Chinese River Dolphin.
In 2000, the Pyrenean Ibex.
In 1989, the Golden Toad.
And earlier in the recent past: Tasmanian Wolf, Bubal Hartebeest, Quagga Zebra, Cape Lion, Caribbean Monk Seal.

Probable upcoming extinctions:
Javan Rhinoceros, Snow Leopard, Tiger, Asian Elephant, Vaquita Porpoise, Mountain Gorilla, Sumatran Orangutan, Leatherback Turtle.

Several well recognized animals are at high risk, including the Panda, Polar Bear, Wolves, Jaguar. and others.

“…there is little disagreement among scientists that humans are driving an unprecedented ecological crisis. And the causes are well-known. People are burning fossil fuels, contributing to climate change. They’re chopping down forests and other habitat for agriculture, to the point 37% of Earth’s land surface now is farmland or pasture, according to the World Bank. The global population of people continues to rise, along with our thirst for land and consumption. And finally, but not exclusively, poachers are driving numbers of elephants, pangolins, rhinos, giraffes and other creatures with body parts valuable on the black market to worryingly low levels.”

The article concludes that time remains to remedy the situation. However, a desire to find solutions is required, and that desire is in question.

Butylated hydroxy…what???

Photo credit: Tyla’75 via Flickr.

Ever been to the store to buy a bottle of shampoo or lotion? How about a cosmetics counter at the local mall for a lipstick? Ever try to read the label for the ingredients? Oh, you need your glasses, you say? The font is so small as to be nearly illegible?

Or, worse, the list contains ingredients that are hardly pronounceable, much less recognized as commonly used words:

Butylated what???

If you are curious enough to continue reading here, we will provide a wee bit of useful information about butylated hydroxytoluene (also known as BHT) and its cousin, butylated hydroxyanisole (if you guessed BHA, you win the prize!).

Those two cosmetic ingredients sound like something from a chemistry lab belonging to Dr. Frankenstein, which is fairly accurate. Both are synthetic antioxidants used in cosmetics as preservatives, particularly in moisturizers and lipsticks.

No one likes moldy, slimy, unpreserved lipstick!  Bacterai, mold…. Yuck!

Unfortunately, neither ingredient is considered totally safe to use. BHA is often found in foods but is a possible human carcinogen. BHT is also a food additive but is also found in household products, industrial additives, pesticides, and plastic and rubber. BHT may interfere with hormone balances, affect kidney, lung, and thyroid function, as well as alter blood coagulation ability, and cause behavioral problems in children.

The European Union prohibits the use of BHA as fragrance ingredient, while California requires warning labels on products with BHA, as a possible cancer causing agent.

Maybe you are wondering if an antioxidant in your lipstick is worth the risk. You should wonder.

The David Suzuki Foundation notes, “U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks). Imagine what that does to your skin, and to the environment.” http://www.davidsuzuki.org

We recommend reading the list of ingredients for all your cosmetics. Knowing what you are putting in your hair, on your skin, on your lips and eyelids can make a difference in your life.

We will be looking at p-phenylenediamine in a future post.

The Movember Foundation

We mentioned the Movember Movement in a previous post pertaining to male grooming. The Movember Foundation has a keen interest in men, but not merely for personal grooming. The foundation is tackling major health problems that affect men, e.g., testicular cancer.
The foundation notes on its U.S. website, https://us.movember.com, “The state of men’s health is in crisis. Men experience worse longer-term health than women and die on average six years earlier. Prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years.” (One in eight women in the US, but one in seven men will develop prostate cancer.) “Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. Three quarters of suicides are men. Poor mental health leads to half a million men taking their own life every year. That’s one every minute.”
The organization had its birth in Australia in 2003, when two guys, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, wondered if they could bring the mustache back into fashion. In their effort, they started raising funds for charity, specifically oriented toward men’s health concerns.
In 2004, they established the Movember Foundation.
By 2006, New Zealand became active, and the two countries raised over $8,000,000 with 29 men’s health projects being funded in three years.
By 2008, seven countries were participating, raising $46,000,000 and 152 projects funded.
21 countries were involved by 2012, with over $400,000,000 raised since 2003
The foundation, via it international efforts, has raised over $700,000,000 in its lifetime and funded over 1200 health projects, all as a result of a conversation about mustaches.
For more information and how to participate in events or donate, please go to www.movember.com

Hey, You Guys, Say Goodbye to English Leather and Hello to Anti-Fatigue Eye Gel

In the world of personal care and cosmetics, several trends are becoming apparent. First, men – who have historically been more concerned with underarm deodorant and after-shave colognes – are becoming increasing interested in personal grooming. Mounting sales are occurring in concealers, skin whitening solutions, sun screens, anti-aging creams, and moisturizers.

Photo credit: FashionBeans.com

Of course, for the bearded and mustached among us (see the “Movember Movement”), balms and oils are also popular. We must keep that facial hair properly coiffed!

Why this change? The rise of the metrosexual and “ubersexual” (that “manly man,” who displays all the good qualities of the gender), plus targeted advertising across all realms of media and celebrity endorsements, have pushed male grooming into a new sphere of relevance. We are witnessing a crossing of boundaries of age, economic status, gender, and geography where cosmetics are concerned.

Further, and very important for those of us in the naturals products industry, increasing interest is also noted in natural and organic ingredients. Men believe that products containing fewer synthetics and chemicals may be better for the skin.

The trend is not limited to the United States. International sales of male grooming products are expected to exceed 40 billion dollars by 2020, with Europe the largest market. And, the big corporations have taken notice. Men (and the women who love them!) can expect to see many more products on the store shelves in the near future.

Beta-Sitosterol and why cosmetic companies should know about it

Anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory; these are some of the effects exhibited upon the consumption of a certain phytosterol called Beta-Sitosterol. Beta-Sitosterol is found in many plants, and therefore is also found in many natural cosmetic oils.  Although there has long been serious consideration and discussion about the effects of applying Beta-Sitosterols directly to the skin, it wasn’t until recently where an important study was published that states the success of this phytosterol when applied as a skin serum.

The first study that was done was completed in 2014 and focused specifically on Beta-Sitosterol’s effect on atopic skin lesions that resemble dermatitis.  The group of scientists conducting the study noted that Beta-Sitosterol has been proven to have positive health effects when consumed, but there has been little to no research testing its application to skin. After observing and testing skin lesions using Beta-Sitosterols and a control serum, they confirmed their hypothesis saying that Beta-Sitosterol “can be helpful in treating allergic inflammatory diseases including atopic dermatitis.”

So how does this pertain to us?  Well it turns out that natural oils from South Africa contain impressive levels of Beta-Sitosterol.  For example, our Marula oil contains 287 mg/100g of b-Sitosterol, our Baobab oil – 438 mg/100g, and our Kalahari Melon Seed oil contains an impressive 486 mg/100g.  For comparison, olive oil, on average, has 80-97 mg/100g of Beta-Sitosterol.  We are hopeful that as further research becomes available on this specific phytosterol we will be able to collectively understand more about the positive effects of Beta-Sitosterol.

Virgin or Cold Pressed – Which is it?

We know you have heard all about virgin oils and cold pressed oils, but what do these labels really mean?  Let’s start with the similarities.  Both virgin oils and cold pressed oils are obtained by mostly mechanical procedures, as opposed to chemical procedures that may alter the nature of the oils.

Fresh Marula Oil straight from the press.

Examples of mechanical methods of obtaining oil include expelling or pressing.  Upon extracting the oils, they typically incur multiple stages of further purification which can include techniques such as settling, filtering or centrifuging.  The striking difference between these two oil classifications is the application of heat.

While extracting and refining virgin oils, applying heat is the only non-mechanical method that may be used to purify the oils.  Heat might help degrade pesticides in oils being pressed from harvested fruits or vegetables (virgin olive oil being the obvious example), but the result is highly dependent upon the pesticides used.

In contrast, as the name suggests, when extracting cold-pressed oils, the use of heat is forbidden.  Researchers have shown that the use of heat can alter the structure of the oil itself and cause it to lose valuable antioxidants that protect and give nutrients to the skin.  This is what makes cold-pressed oils so sought after in the natural cosmetics industry.

At DLG Naturals BW, a supplier facility of DLG Naturals, Inc. in Botswana, our production of Marula oil is 100% cold pressed.  The abundance of wild-harvested Marula that thrives without the use of pesticides allows us to produce a natural and safe cosmetic oil without the use of heat.  Our cold-pressed Marula oil maintains its characteristic high concentration of oleic fatty acid throughout the entire process –it’s like applying the oil directly to your skin, from the kernel.

10 Days, 36 Tons of Marula

Ten days ago, a middle-aged man from Gabane knocked on DLG BW’s factory door.  He asked for the manager saying he’d heard that “people here buy wild harvest Marula fruit.” Hungara, our manager at DLG BW, smiled and nodded in response to the man’s question.  While the man only had 150 kilograms (about 330 lbs.) of Marula fruit to offer, he had taken a major logistical piece of the supply chain out of the equation.  Typically, DLG BW sent their representative to villages far outside of Gabarone to collect Marula fruit and transport them back to the factory.  This is an important strategic step, however it accumulated expenses from transportation, hotels and unexpected vehicle repairs that can often occur on the unpaved roads of northern Botswana.

Marula Fruit flows into the DLG BW Factory

The very next day, a few more individuals showed up to the factory saying they had wild harvested Marula to sell as well.  Collectively they offered ½ ton of natural Marula.  A few days later, we received 3 tons, a few days after that; 6 tons, and yesterday; 12 tons.  The word has spread throughout the Gabane area and people are bringing more and more Marula by whatever means available to them.

 

At one point, Hungara looked out at the factory gate to see two young boys pushing a wagon with two large bags of natural Marula.  Hungara spoke with them, learning that they had pushed that wagon 4 kilometers to arrive at the factory.

A Truck-Full of Marula Fruit

Another day, Tris Lahti, one of the owners, looked out the window to find two men pushing a pickup truck filled to the brim with Marula fruit.  They were on their way to our factory when their pickup ran out of gas.  Their solution was to push the pickup to our site, sell the Marula and use that money to refill their truck.  They were thrilled when their compensation far exceeded the cost to fill their tank of gas.

In merely ten days, DLG BW has received over 35 tons of natural, wild harvested Marula from over 50 individuals which pumped over P40,000 (about US$4,000) directly into the local economy.  In a country where the unemployment rate hovers around 25%, this is a significant opportunity that many locals have capitalized on.  Additionally, with the influx of local

Hungara with the Natural, Wild Harvest Marula Fruit

residents approaching us with Marula, this allows us to pass along those logistical savings to the local population, raising their compensation per kilo of Marula. With the Botswana school year beginning soon, and the end of summer in sight, this extra income can be used to pay for school fees, winter coats and gloves or food to feed their family for a couple weeks.  This high response rate from local villagers is promising and helps us all envision how DLG’s processing of Marula will help fulfill our mission of empowerment through commerce.

 

Marula oil included as one of the key developments within the face oils market

A recent report from Business Wire states that there is good news for the global face oils market. The market research report for that sector provides overwhelming evidence to suggest a surge in demand for anti-aging beauty oils, facial cleansing oils and face moisturizing oils.  All of the oils DLG Naturals distributes falls into one (or several) of these categories.  Furthermore, the article from Business Wire includes Marula oil as one of the most prominent ingredients in the natural and organic anti-ageing segment.

To read the full article by Business Wire and view the market report itself, follow the link below:

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161017005415/en/Face-Oils-Market-Witness-Launch-Range-Products

Running with the Big 5 animals? We’ll stick with the Big 5 oils.

Seeing the big five animals in Africa is something that is on the bucket lists of many. Now, to make that 100 times more extreme (or dangerous) take away the safety of the safari car and personal guide, then run 26 miles. Sound fun? Well, maybe it’s not for everyone.

Here at DLG Naturals, we define the big 5 in a different way. They include our five most popular premium Southern African oils; Marula Oil, Baobab Oil, Kalahari Melon Seed Oil, Mongongo Oil and Ximenia Oil. These nutritious oils capture the essence of Africa. Check out our Wholesale Catalog for more information!

oils
DLG Natural’s Big 5 oils with the addition of Moringa Oil

Alexandra Wexler wrote a fascinating article for the Wall Street Journal about an adrenaline-packed marathon that includes the world’s most formidable animals. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-latest-in-marathon-one-upmanship-have-you-ever-run-from-a-rhino-1469991934 July 31, 2016). Below we post the article in its entirety.


The Latest in Marathon One-Upmanship: Have You Ever Run From a Rhino?

Safari park course offers bragging rights, wildebeest detours

Runners encountered herds of blesbok antelope at the Big Five Marathon, in June at the Entabeni Safari Conservancy.
Runners encountered herds of blesbok antelope at the Big Five Marathon, in June at the Entabeni Safari Conservancy. PHOTO: ALEXANDRA WEXLER/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

ENTABENI SAFARI CONSERVANCY, South Africa—In the pink post-dawn light, nearly 300 runners stretched and limbered up, some nervously chattering, some focusing silently on the task ahead—running 26.2 miles in a game reserve filled with the five most-difficult African species to hunt: rhinoceros, leopard, buffalo, elephant and lion.

“Guys, when you see a ranger with a rifle, that means that something could be quite close by,”J.P. Meyer, the jovial and khaki-clad general manager at Honeyguide Ranger Camp, said during a briefing the day before the 12th running of the Big Five Marathon in June. “If our rangers do tell you, ‘Please, get on the vehicle,’ there’s a reason for it. Something brown and furry is joining the marathon.”

It wasn’t an idle threat. Later that night, a lioness killed a wildebeest on a section of the runners’ route, forcing organizers to scramble and reroute 1.5 miles of the course.

South Africa’s Big Five Marathon is part of a fast-expanding pantheon of ultra-endurance races that include marathons along the Great Wall of China, in Antarctica and along Peru’s Inca Trail. As long-distance running has exploded in popularity, runners and companies that organize races have been thinking up increasingly challenging contests, from 100-plus-mile ultramarathons through the desert to the World Marathon Challenge—seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, a feat accomplished by 26 runners to date.

Runners come from around the world to compete in the Big Five Marathon in South Africa.
Runners come from around the world to compete in the Big Five Marathon in South Africa. PHOTO: ALEXANDRA WEXLER/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

“The bragging rights of saying you’ve done a marathon ain’t cutting the mustard anymore,” said ultramarathoner Tobias Mews, author of “50 Races to Run Before You Die.” “People look for something that sounds a bit more impressive, that would make a better story.”

For runners from Japan to Brazil to Poland who come to compete alongside Africa’s Big Five—the race provides the inimitable thrill of trying to avoid becoming lunch.

“I hope I don’t get eaten,” said Rosetta Steeneveldt, 46, of Trondheim, Norway, the night before the race as she loaded her dinner plate with pasta. After the race, the South African native was covered in dust, exhausted. “I did it,” she said, brandishing her finisher’s medal.

So far, no marathoner has ever been injured by an animal, but brushes with the big five’s smaller cousins happen regularly. Emile Hunter ramped up training before her college graduation trip to South Africa, where she would run the race with her parents, who are attempting to run a marathon on each continent over a few years. A couple days before, monkeys got into her room through an open window and ate all of her energy chews.

“My Crest white strips, my toothpaste…the powder from my drink mix was everywhere,” said the 25-year-old who lives in San Antonio. “My mom was shouting at them, and I was kicking the curtains to make sure there weren’t any more hiding in them.”

Rhinos rested at the side of the Big Five Marathon course on the route inspection.
Rhinos rested at the side of the Big Five Marathon course on the route inspection.PHOTO: ALEXANDRA WEXLER/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

This year, dozens of runners were cut off by herds of galloping wildebeest and blesbok antelope, which kicked up huge clouds of dust in their wake. Runners on either side oohed and aahed, excitedly snapping pictures and selfies with their smartphones.

The race, run by Danish travel-running company Albatros Adventure, isn’t the only game-park marathon. Kenya’s Safaricom Marathon, a charity event now in its 17th year, attracts about 1,400 runners. Two helicopters clear the course of big game before the start.

The race here is capped at 300 runners, who brave a steep mountainside climb. Big Five Marathon times are typically far off personal bests, and this year, 12 of 140 starters in the full marathon failed to complete the course within the seven-hour time limit.

“This was the hardest physical challenge of my life to-date,” said Ms. Hunter’s monkey-scolding mother, Barbara. “It’s a bit like childbirth. At first I told [my husband] there was no way I would do that again,” she said. “But this morning I was thinking maybe I’d do the half” marathon option.

A lot of planning goes in to making sure the biggest physical challenge of the race remains simply completing it.

“The rhinos and elephants have a tendency to pull off a lot of the signs [marking the course], and it can actually be a matter of life or death if you make a wrong turn,” said Lars Fyhr, head of Albatros Adventure Marathons. “You just know if you run into a lion…yeah. The race is closed.”

To avoid that scenario, rangers head out the night before the race to track down the park’s resident lions and stay with them until the last runner is picked up or across the finish line. Some 30 rangers, in addition to the park’s game-management team, are deployed on race day, to make sure runners and the big five stay separated.

“We are in their space, so we must respect them,” said Trevor Mthunzi, head ranger on race day this year.

Mr. Mthunzi spent race day with some of Entabeni’s hippos, which kill about five times more people world-wide a year than lions, according to the Gates Foundation.

“From the first runner coming through, they were like, ‘What’s happening here?’ ” Mr. Mthunzi said of his hippo charges, who wiggled their ears and grunted in the dam behind him. “Of course, they’re excited to see human beings running on the ground.”

Near the hippo ponds, the park’s game-management team carefully monitored a cheetah—the world’s fastest land animal, who can clock speeds of 60 miles an hour—who unbeknown to the runners, was lazing about just 300 meters from the course.

The game reserve is inhabited by herds of blesbok antelope, as well as lions, leopards and elephants.
The game reserve is inhabited by herds of blesbok antelope, as well as lions, leopards and elephants. PHOTO: ALEXANDRA WEXLER/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

This year’s race wasn’t completely without incident. Rashaad Forehand, 38, of San Diego, was running down the course’s steep mountainside when he heard something rustling in the bushes to his right.

“I turned back, tripped on a rock and I hit my head on another rock,” he said afterward. “It didn’t hurt when it hit, but I saw all of this blood.”

Luckily, the noise Mr. Forehand heard was a ranger, not one of the big five.

“You think, ‘It could be something,’ ” he said, especially after hearing “distinct growling” during a training jog the morning of the race. “You never know.”

An Exclusive Look into the World’s Most Valuable Diamond Mine

Botswana holds a special place in the hearts of employees here at DLG Naturals. We adore the vibrant culture, kind people, extraordinary wildlife and of course the heavenly food (special shout out to Mountain Valley in Gabane – their braai seasoning is out of this world!) Here we share with you an article that highlights one very important asset to the Botswana government- the Jwaneng diamond mine. This article discusses the economic effects of this mine, the challenges the Botswana government has faced and foresees for the future, and how the government was able to avoid the “resource curse,” that has been so prevalent in other parts of the African continent.

Peter Guest wrote an insightful article for CNN about the complexities that go along with having the world’s most valuable diamond mine. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/03/africa/botswana-diamonds-jwaneng/ December 3, 2015). Below we post the article in its entirety.


Gaborone, Botswana (CNN) Debswana’s Jwaneng mine is a giant cauldron of pale dust, 2 kilometers across at its widest point and patrolled by colossal 300-tonne trucks that labor up the terraced slopes.

The operation, owned as a joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana, is the richest diamond mine in the world and, as managing director Albert Milton says, “one of the most important assets in the country.”

Nicknamed “the Prince of Mines”, Jwaneng was opened in 1982, as the diamond trade propelled Botswana from one of the poorest countries on earth to one of Africa’s wealthiest.

The mine’s current production output is about 10.6 million carats per year, or just over 2,100 kilos.

Today, diamonds make up more than 60% of Botswana’s exports, and nearly 25% of its gross domestic product.

Unlike many other countries that are similarly dependent on a single export, Botswana has avoided the “resource curse” of poor governance and slow economic development. By regional standards, its public services are strong, education is free, and corruption is largely in check.

‘Good luck’

An expert inspects Canadian diamonds at De Beers' Sightholder Sales facility in Gaborone, Botswana