Tag Archives: Higher Calling

Celebrating The Wildlife Of Israel

Yesterday we announced that we created our own conservation outreach Higher Calling Wildlife. Everyone who joins for FREE gets this very special edition Higher Calling Wildlife “Wildlife Of Israel” e-mag.

It’s the first of its kind magazine focusing solely on Israel’s wildlife and we chose to debut it today as the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets) begins this evening.

This is the New Year on the calendar God gave to the Hebrews and since supporting Israel’s wildlife is one of our pillars, we thought this would be a good way to celebrate and also a new beginning for us.

Subscribe for FREE at http://www.highercallingwildlife.net and get your Higher Calling Wildlife Of Israel e-mag today.

Bear education Necessities

This summer has been a fun one here at Higher Calling as we have been on a three month long quest called “Summer of the Bear”.

The goal has been to raise awareness to bears and bear conservation around the world.

It started with reporting on greatly increased bear sightings in my home state of Texas and has seen us doing lots of giveaways including plush bears for kids and special edition Texas Bear Aware tokens.

This week ends our summer bear project and we’re doing it in a big way publishing this podcast I recorded with Jack Evans of Bear Trust International.

A large black bear photographed by the author in Estes Park, Co. in August. (Photo by Chester Moore)

Listen to the show below as we talk about that organization’s great conservation education work.

Thanks to everyone who participated by sending emails, social media interaction, photos and videos.

The “Summer of the Bear” was a big success thanks to you.

Chester Moore

Horse Killings: Is There a Pattern In TX Cases?

“You see it on social media all the time, but I never thought it would happen to me. Someone shot and killed our horse last night in his pasture in Port Mansfield. If anyone has any leads please let us know. I am completely devastated R.I.P Seabiscuit.”

Those heartbreaking words showed up in my Facebook feed just a day after I started looking into mysterious horse killings in Texas, Florida and Louisiana.

I was able to interview the horse’s devastated owner Jessica Neu, who said the horse was shot in the chest, head on and no meat was taken.

“This was in a pasture right outside of Port Mansfield, TX. It’s the navigation district property where local kids can keep livestock and show animals..”

There is no known motive and as she noted in her post, these killings are showing up all over the place. If you have any information for Neu, contact her here.

We discussed a string of killings in the area around Pearland, TX that began in May and has continued into August. You can hear about those at our podcast here.

The podcast also addresses three similar killings in the Liberty County area from 2017-2018.

The Pearland killings involved the harvest of meat. Like the death of Neu’s horse, the ones in Liberty were shot and left to die with no meat harvest.

Horse meat is legal and popular in many eastern European, Asian and in some Latin American nations. Are people of wealth from some of these nations driving a black market in the horse meat trade? (Public Domain Photo)

These are both bizarre situations and ones that I believe deserve attention here as horses are such an important part of the lifestyle of outdoors lovers.

There is in my opinion two different situations happening regarding horse killings.

The Pearland killings along with a similar situation in central Florida most likely is tied to some sort of black market horse meat trade.

As my friend and fellow researcher Jeff Stewart noted in order to butcher a horse and load it up it would be like skinning and packing out a large bull elk.

One hind quarter would possibly weigh over 100 pounds. There’s a good chance this would take more than one person and the risk level of taking the horse, killing and taking the meat is far higher than a drive by shooting of sorts.

Horses are an important part of outdoors culture around the world. (Public Domain Photo)

The second situation is what we will focus on here which is the killing of horses for seemingly no gain other than to kill the horse or perhaps terrorize the owners.

An Aug. 5 story at Spectrum News details a July killing of a little girls’ horse in Caldwell County, TX. where a horse was shot in the head and left to die. Caldwell County is a four hour drive straight up Highway 77 from Port Mansfield.

Another little girl’s horse was killed in February near Poteet according to the San Antonio-Express News. Interestingly, this is just an hour from the Caldwell County killing, one turn off of 77 from Port Mansfield (37 North) and all three of these involved kids pets, ag show horses or were on property where young people from these programs keep their horses.

Even the killings in Liberty involved a little girl’s horse. You can read more about it here.

Two of the killings were the same little girls’ horse-one two days before Christmas in 2017 and the other in February 2018 after someone gave her a new horse. Another child’s horse was killed in the same area Nov. 2017.

adorable affection animal beautiful
Horses are special animals with a special bond to their owners which makes these crimes all the more heinous. (Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com)

Is there a pattern here?

We have just hit the tip of the iceberg and will cover more in future editions but here are a few similar reports from other states.

On May 26, ABC Denver 7 reported “Horse Killed in Elbert County ‘Execution Style'”.

A horse was shot in the head as if someone walked up to the horse and did it at point blank range and was the second horse in the area killed by gunfire.

On Feb. 17 KNOE News 8 reported someone shot and killed a horse named “Big Mac” in Calhoun, La.

The horses owner in the story said she feels that she and her family are being targeted.

She said that her other horses have been mysteriously released from her barn by someone multiple times over the past year. She feels this is the same person who killed her horse.

A Nov. 2019 story reveals five horses in North and South Carolina stabbed or shot.

At least one of the Pearland horses was stabbed.

Is there a killer fixated on horses in Texas? What is driving the killing of horses for their meat? Why are horses the target of killings all around the nation?

There are many questions to ask and hopefully someone finds an answer soon.

Contact information on all of the above cases are in the linked stories if you have any pertinent information.

Chester Moore

Higher Calling 2020

There is nothing more majestic than a bighorn ram navigating its mountain domain where the air is thin and the scenery stunning.

As me and my wife Lisa photographed a gorgeous Rocky Mountain bighorn ram enjoying a natural mineral lick at 12,000 feet in Colorado, another ram appeared.

The author photographed this bighorn at 12,000 feet in an area where grazing is restricted but these sheep don’t stay here all the time. Moving into grazing areas is highly dangerous. This is the same described in the introduction standing over a mineral lick (Photo by Chester Moore)

Popping its head up over what looked like a sheer cliff from our angle, the younger ram carefully made it’s away toward the lick, cautiously approaching the older and larger animal.

I thanked God for the moment because I knew it was He that put me and Lisa on this path.

Six months earlier the Holy Spirit whispered the words “Higher Calling” into my spirit and put me on a trajectory that led me on a path of deeper purpose and of elevated expectations.

As COVID-19 continues to shake the world and people debate everything from wearing masks to rioting, there is no doubt times are confusing.

In his letter to the church in Phillip, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

And that’s what seeing the great animals of the high country reminds me of-God, His Creation and divine purpose.

The author glassing for wild sheep with a new pair of Meopta binoculars near Estes Park, Co. (Photo by Lisa Moore)

There was a reason these rams had a mineral lick in their alpine habitat and they instinctively knew they needed it.

When the universe was flung into Creation, those purposes were built into the Earth and the sheep and here we were witnessing it.

There is something pure about mountain air and special about the creatures that thrive in these environments.

Wild sheep don’t always live in the highest altitudes though. They will move down into valleys and fields to feed. And when they do, they are often in grave danger.

There has been a pandemic of sorts ongoing with wild sheep in North America since the 1800s when domestic sheep entered their landscape. Carrying bacterial pneumonia, they transfer it to their wild cousins and the results have been catastrophic.

From two million wild sheep on the continent when Lewis and Clark set out on their expedition to 25,000 or so in 1900 it was brutal.

Hunter-conservationists and concenred fish and game agencies stepped in and through translocation and careful management have brought numbers up to around 175,000 but the threat still exists. And wild sheep still die when the co-mingle with domestics.

Maybe there’a s lesson here for us.

Co-mingling with those infected can only bring trouble.

The coronavirus is one aspect but I am talking about all of the infection of the hateful, vicious fighting over issues that will only truly be settled when the Lord returns. I am talking about the abandonment of honor for fellow humans.

At 12,000 fee that day there were no political debates, election ads, controversies of social issues or division thereof.

It was just me, my wife, what ended up being three Rocky Mountain bighorn rams and a tangible sense of God’s presence.

If I had not heeded the words “Higher Calling”, we would not have experienced this and many things in my life would be different.

This blog would not even exist.

There is something to this whole “Higher Calling” thing and that is for each of us to discover and I believe those who purpose it in their hearts will do so in 2020.

And I am soon heading back to the mountains to do just that.

Chester Moore

Paddington Bear: Endangered And OVERLOOKED

Author Michael Bond impacted several generations with his iconic “Paddington Bear” series.

Featuring a spectacled bear from South America, a species known little outside of its indigenous range, the books and animated features have done more to raise the profile of the species than anything.

They are the only South American bear species and are named for the light pattern on their face, neck and chest that in some individual resembles spectacles or eyeglasses.

A spectacled bear. (Public Domain Photo)

According to the Wildlife Conservation Network, little is known about this elusive bear and while the mystery surrounding them may add to its mystique, it does little to further its conservation.

Lack of knowledge about these bears considerably compromises the conservation management for the species.

This rare, charismatic bear is highly endangered, primarily due to habitat fragmentation that has caused bears to lose access to critical feeding areas. Although this bear is generally found in humid, alpine cloud forests, Spectacled Bear Conservation (SBC) discovered a population of more than 65 bears in the low elevation dry forest, providing a unique opportunity to observe these bears in the wild.

SBC says spectacled bears are a vulnerable species seriously threatened by habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and human-wildlife conflict.

The lack of knowledge about spectacled bears in the wild impacts our ability to make conservation decisions or plans. Spectacled bears are the only bear species in South America with potentially as few as 2,500 mature individuals remaining. 

I have reached out to some researchers to get some in-depth information on the species we will hopefully be able to post soon. Until then, enjoy this introduction to the beautiful, enigmatic and endangered spectacled bear.

Chester Moore

Donate to help spectacled bears through Spectacled Bear Conservation by clicking here.

We donated $50 in honor of our daughter Faith wanting to champion bear conservation. And hopefully this little donation will inspire others who read this to donate. (Chester and Lisa Moore).

Rhinos Of The Forest Pt. 3

Rhinoceros are not just animals of savannah and desert as we established in the first two installments of this series (Pt. 1, Pt. 2).

These great animals inhabit moist forest and even highland areas in Africa and in Asia, most of the remnant rhino populations are in dense forest or mountainous areas.

Indian rhinos. (Photo Creative Commons License/Bernard Dupont)

African rhinos get a fair amount of mainstream wildlife coverage but their cousins in Asia get almost none which was a big inspiration for me to do this series.

The Javan and Sumatran rhinos are as on the edge of extinction as any animal on the planet, but not everything in Asia is bad.

In fact, in India, there has been quite a turnaround in the population of Indian or one-horned rhinos according to officials with the World Wildlife Fund.

Both range countries, India and Nepal, have been very successful in expanding greater one-horned rhino numbers from around 200 individuals at the turn of the 20th century to a total of around 3,500 today.

Vigorous anti-poaching patrols and successful translocations from one area to another has brought the species back from the brink of extinction.

Wardens monitoring a white rhino in Kenya. (Public Domain Photo)

In Africa, rhino farming has been extremely successful in South Africa and hunter-based iniatives including “green hunting” where rhinos are darted and sperm is collected to artifiically insimiate rhinos in other areas have proven successful especially for white rhinos.

But the situation is very serious out there on the poaching end. The Asian demand has not ceased. Here are a few standouts to show how much effort it takes to keep rhinos in existence.

*Zoo Poaching: A rhino was poached for its horns at a zoo in France in 2016. “Rhino poaching has historically targeted wild populations,” said Dr. Susie Ellis, Executive Director of the International Rhino Foundation in a 2016 news release.

“This is the first such known poaching incident at a zoo. Criminal networks fairly recently began targeting museum specimens in Europe. Zoos, as living museums, now are also at risk. In response to the Paris rhino killing, we urge all zoological facilities to take serious measures to keep their rhinos safe.” 

Imagine the horror of zookeepers finding a rhino poached at a zoo. It has happened. (Public Domain Photo)

Terror Cells: It is believed major poaching syndicates are in league with terror groups using funds from rhino horns and ivory to help fund their activities. If you think dealing with poachers is bad, think about it being tied in with terrorists.

Assasinations: Lt-Col Leroy Bruwer, 49, a top rhino poaching ring investigator died in a hail of bullets in Mbombela on the R37 connecting Mbombela and Lydenburg March 18, 2020.

The people protecting rhinos and working for their conservation are doing incredible work and deserve our prayers and support both in awareness-raising and finances.

Chester Moore

Below are some groups doing great work for rhinos.

International Rhino Foundation

Hemmersbach Rhino Force

Ambassadors Of Conservation

Rhino 911

Sumatran Rhino Rescue

Rhinos of the forest Pt. 2

Few animals are as awe-inspiring as a rhinoceros.

The giant ungulates are truly wonders of Creation and are also among the planet’s most critically endangered animals.

In part 1 of our series we established that these animals are not only dwellers of savannah and desert but also inhabit forest and mountainous areas in Africa.

A white rhino sporting a big battle scar. (Public Domain Photo)

Africa has two species, the black and white (square-lipped) rhinoceros and of those two the black had the largest historical range.

That wide-ranging distribution included several now extinct subspecies including the western black rhinoceros which the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) deemed extinct in 2011 after a search in heavily-forested Cameroon proved fruitless.

Black rhinos are browsers and prefer forest and semi-forested habitat that has plenty of woody plants to eat. (Public Domain Photo)

The eastern black rhino is often found in highland forest and like all rhinos will inhabit savannah as well.

Like all black rhinos, these are browsers which mean they prefer eating from bushes, trees and other woody vegetations whereas grazers eat grass and low vegetation. Forests offer ample grazing opportunties as well as cover.

That’s why account for exact black rhino numbers in forested nations is challenging. Helicopter, drone and airplane surveys are not as effective as they are on the savannahs.

White rhinos prefer open areas more than their darker-colored and smaller cousins but will spend time in forested areas, especially if they find a good mud hole or trees to use for a rubbing post. (To scractch that itch.)

A Sumatran rhino enjoying a nice meal in the forest. (Public Domain Photo)

Sumatran rhinos are even more critically endangered than their African cousins with fewer than 100 left in the wild according to Save The Rhino International (STI). These rhinos are the smallest of all but they are incredibly agile.

Sumatran rhinos can run fast and are very agile. They climb mountains easily and can negotiate very steep slopes and riverbanks. With the protection provided by the horns and rims of hard skin and cartilage on nose and head, they can easily break through the densest vegetation, leaving round tunnels

These Javan rhino is in even worse shape in terms of population wtih only single population of around 70 animals believed to exist in the wild. These animals which currently live in dense forest once had an incredible distribution according to STI.

Javan rhinos used to live in a variety of tropical landscapes, both lowland and highland, from the mangroves of the Sunderbans in India and Bangladesh, the mountains of southern China, to the sub-montane shrubs on the highest volcanoes of Java. The Javan rhino probably had a wider ecological range than either its larger relative, the greater one-horned rhino, or its compatriot, the Sumatran rhino.

The reason for this series is to give a look at overlooked aspects of African rhinos and their range and to bring awareness to those forest-dwellers in Asia that are far closer to extinction than even those in Africa.

A Javan rhino in the London Zoo. According to the San Diego Zoo there are no Javan rhinos presently in zoos. (Public Domain Photo)

For whatever reason they get almost no attention from the corporate wildlife media. This is our way of shining some light on a dark spot in wildlife conservation.

Before the modern era of conservation minded, sustainable hunting, Javan rhinos were slaughtered with no regard like this juvenile taken in 1895. (Public Domain Photo)

In the next and final article in the series we will examine an Asian rhino that is on the rebound and look at some conservation project that could radically change the trajectory of rhino populations in Africa for the better.

Chester Moore

Rhinos Of The Forest Pt. 1

Rhinoceros are some of the most iconic and endangered animals on the planet.

Facing outright slaughter by poachers seeking highly valuable horns for trade in the Asian traditional medicine market, they are animals of very special concern.

When thinking of rhinos it is hard not to imagine them in the open savanna or desert settings often depicted on television. And yes, those areas in southern Africa are crucial to both white and black rhinoceros and their subspecies.

Mother white rhino with calf
White rhino mother and calf. (Photo copyright Austin Stevens)

But did you know rhinos are also an animal of the forest and even the mountains? Or at least they were in many areas before poachers decimated them.

Black rhinos live in the montane forests of Kenya, an ecoregion that has several separate areas up to 2000 meters in elevation.

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) in recent years has imported rhinos to once again inhabit their former range in the small, landlocked country that has a mix of forest, savanna, and mountains.

I first got an interest in learning more about rhinos in thicker forest habitat after watching an episode of my friend Austin Steven’s brilliant program Austin Stevens Adventures.

Austin_Stevens_Adventures (1)

In the episode In the Shadow of Armored Giants, he sought black and white rhinos in the Mkhaya game reserve in Eswatini. The scenes of him in some super thick forests approaching rhinos at an incredibly close distance was quite inspiring.

Black rhino in thorn bush thicket. South Africa
Black rhino with a wound from fighting another rhino. (Photo copyright Austin Stevens)

I reached out to Stevens to get some of his thoughts on his rhino encounters since his groundbreaking footage probably gave the best glimpse into rhinos I have ever seen on a television program.

I have been fortunate to observe the behavior of the two species found in Southern Africa, the so-called white rhino (more accurately, the square-lipped rhino) and the black rhino. Of the two, the black rhino is generally the slightly smaller, and known for its more aggressive nature. The white rhino, on the other hand, while of course also being potentially dangerous, has a far more subdued demure. Both are amazingly well camouflaged in natural bush and can be easily missed on a game drive, in spite of their size. If on foot in the bush, one encounters a white rhino, there is usually time and opportunity to slowly back away and avoid confrontation. Should one however, enter into close proximity with a black rhino, then basically it is already too late, and disaster might be the result.

As described in his latest book, Running Wild, Stevens experienced a close encounter with each of the species.

One saw me awakened each night in my tent as a white rhino stomped, pounded and pulverized, with great gusto, my entrance mat, rendering me terrified inside the flimsy walls of the tent. It seemed that my tent had unknowingly been erected within the rhino’s terrain. A lesson well learned.

The black rhino encounter was a little scarier.

As for my black rhino encounter, as is typical, I had no idea the animal was present until it charged out of the thicket and sent me scurrying for my life up a leaning tree, thankfully within reach. A few snorts and a few jabs at my feet, just out of reach, and the animal seemed to be satisfied that it had secured its territory, and it turned around and disappeared once more back into the thicket from which it had emerged. I was pretty shaken, and another lesson learned. All in a day’s work for a wildlife photographer.

I would never have considered some of the dense forest rhinos can inhabit if I had not seen Stevens episode and read his book. They inspired this series of articles and to look deeper into where rhinos used to roam.

As a photographer, rhinos are at the very top of my list of African game I would like to photograph.

Seeing them in the distant savannah and approaching in a Land Rover is one thing but to get close to them in a thick, forested setting is another.

In the next edition, we will look at some of the surprisingly high elevations rhinos can roam and look into what is happening with them in the more forested regions of west-central Africa.

And we will conclude the series with how innovative conservation measures are bringing hope for these armored giants.

(To purchase Austin Stevens latest book Running Wild click here.)

Chester Moore

Growing Threats To Bear Conservation (Podcast)

Join Chester Moore as he interviews Logan Young, Executive Director of Bear Trust International to discuss the often overlooked topic of global bear conservation.

Listen here.

Topics discussed include the following:

bear_trust_logo

*Bear Trust International’s vision for global bear conservation.

*Addressing bear education needs for school children

*Grizzly hunting ban controversy in Canada

*Overlooked bear species such as the sloth bear of Asia and the spectacled bear of the Andes in South America.

If you have any interest in bears you need to hear this episode.

 

Fishing Massacre Shows Dark Side Of The Great Outdoors

3 friends on fishing trip killed in ‘massacre,’ Florida sheriff says

That headline from last weekend shook me to the core as I just broadcast a radio program about the dangers of encountering bad people on fishing and hunting expeditions. And I have recently written a series of articles on the topic here at Higher Calling.

Polk County, Fla. Sheriff Grady Judd, who has worked at the department since 1972, described the killings as a “massacre.”

polk country florida

“This is a horrific scene,” Judd said in an article at Yahoo News. “I’ve been to a lot of murder scenes in my life, and this ranks among the worst.”

Three friends had gathered to go fish at a remote location and had been friends for years. The victims had been beaten and shot.

Describing the “quiet, quaint” community surrounded by groves, forest and cattle ranches, Judd said the area was “about as far out in the woods as you can get.”

I started writing the Deep Woods Dangers series and doing broadcasts on the topic at “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and the Higher Calling podcast two years ago.

It was inspired by a question someone asked me at a seminar.

“Chester, what’s the most dangerous thing you’ve encountered in the woods?”

Without blinking I said, “people”.

This was because of dangerous encounters with people I have had fishing, hunting, and exploring in remote locations. Once I started sharing my stories, others came forth with theirs.

The idea is to let people know they should be extremely cautious in remote locations.

public domain crime
Public Domain Photo

Below area few tips from my extensive lists of preventive and defensive measures. Read the full article and list here.

#Bad Vibes: If you feel bad about going into an area don’t go. I am a follower of Christ. I believe sometimes this is the Holy Spirit telling me to stay away. You may nota I elieve that, but just call it a “gut feeling” and go with it.

#Never Alone: As much as I love to be in the distant forest alone with my camera—don’t you do it. Always bring someone along. Preferably someone who is experienced in the woods. You are far more likely to get hurt by evil people if you are alone and in the case of these three young men, even going together didn’t help.

#Pack Heat: If it’s legal where you are then use your Second Amendment right, and carry a firearm. Make sure you are trained in its use and be prepared to do what is necessary.

Better you defend yourself against a maniac than become a statistic. Also, carry a large knife with you. In close quarters it could save your life.

#Study the Area: The Internet is a great tool for studying areas. If you find out an area is a high drug trafficker area for, for example; avoid it like the plague. Stay away!

As society continues to crumble, especially in light of COVID-19 related economic problems, more things like this will likely happen. Evil runs rampant in dark times and it is my goal to prepare good people for what is going on out there.

We should not be afraid of venturing into the woods and on the water but we need to be real and realize there are very real human dangers out there.

By the grace of God and keeping a cool head, I have made it out of several situations where I likely could have been killed.

That’s why I take this so seriously.

Chester Moore