Science Journals Becoming Treasure Maps For Poachers

Jian-Huan Yang, Conservation Officer at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong, recently discovered two new gecko species in China.  In the “publish or perish” world of academia and research, Yang discovered, much to his dismay, that publication of his articles may be contributing to the very species he discovered perishing from the planet.

Recently, commercial collectors have been using reports in scientific journals as tools to track down new species so they can sell them for a profit on the exotic pet trade market.

"Shortly after, some collectors began collecting these geckos for sales using the location information in my papers," Yang told Live Science in an email. "It has been saddening to see a constant supply of wild-caught individuals of both species are now available on the pet trade and even traded overseas to the United States and Europe."

In 2006, four researchers wrote a letter to Science explaining that the race to document and understand previously unknown species "in the face of a “global biodiversity crisis” has turned studies into "a treasure map for commercial collectors." According to estimates, the exotic pet trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry, second only to black market drugs and weapons. It's a $15 billion dollar a year business in the United States, alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines.

Since being scientifically described in the 1990s, an Indonesian turtle Chelodina mccordi and a gecko (Goniurosaurus luii) have fetched pet trade prices ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 apiece. The demand is so high that C. mccordi is almost extinct in the wild, and G. luii has gone locally extinct.

Because little information exists on the habits of exotic reptiles in the wild, animals kept as “pets” frequently suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Meeting their physical and behavioral needs in captivity may be impossible. According to a German-Austrian study, the average lifespan for captive reptiles is 3.9 years for terrapins and tortoises, 2.5 years for lizards, and 3.6 years for snakes. Broader analysis supports the theory that the majority of reptiles do not even survive the first year in captivity.

Because the life expectancy of a captive reptile is so low and the animals themselves suffer, Born Free USA recommends that reptiles not be kept as “pets” by the general public. Reptiles should remain in their native habitat where they are able to roam and be free from captivity.

Educating the public appears to be the most effective way to remove the demand for wild animals. As long as there is a black market demand, the delicate ecosystems from which they are taken – and, of course, the animals - will suffer.


Read more about the exotic pet trade here:

Shark Week is here!

Shark Week is a ratings bonanza for the Discovery Channel with more than 40 million people tuning in last year. Shark Week kicked off this last weekend with the more hours of programming than ever in its 28-year history. But many scientists think the huge audiences, and all the hype, have come at the expense of real science....and most importantly at the expense of sharks. There was universal agreement among scientist that Shark Week hit bottom two years ago with an infamous, fictionalized "documentary" about a 100-foot, 80-ton shark they called "the serial killer of the seas." Discovery resurrected the long extinct Megalodon and made up stories of sightings and attacks.

This year, according to Howard Swartz, who recently took over as head of development and production, said, "This year we're focusing quite a bit on research and science, more so probably than we have in the past."
Let's hope that last year marked the FINale of shark bashing that baits the public into believing that the world would be better off with these magnificent and important creatures.

It is, of course, true that sharks have killed people, but the numbers don't justify the fear or disdain. One person is killed each year in the US by sharks and fewer than six worldwide. From 2006 to 2010, there were just three fatalities from shark attacks in the US. Annually, 38 million sharks are killed and discarded after their fins are removed to make shark fin soup.

The importance of the ocean's apex predator affects the entire food chain and has a direct effects on human beings. In a single example, off the mid-Atlantic, shark populations were destroyed in the belief that it would increase the number of fish. However, this resulted in an overpopulation of cownose rays, a former shark prey. The rays depleted the scallop population and ended a 100 year old scallop fishing industry.

In Hawaii, scientists found that tiger sharks had a positive impact on the health of sea grass beds, which are an important environment for dozens of fish species and well as a breading ground for organisms which feed the fish. Turtles, which are the tiger sharks’ prey, graze on sea grass. In the absence of the tiger sharks, turtles grazed on the best quality, most nutritious sea grass, and these habitats were soon destroyed. When tiger sharks are in the area, however, turtles graze over a broader area and do not overgraze a single area.

We applaud the Discovery Channel for its change of focus on how to get high ratings for Shark Week. Let's hope that we all can begin to see how to rate the value of this vital link in the environment.

ECOSMART DESIGNS celebrates the diversity and importance of the natural world with our IN THE WILD, ANIMAL TRACKS and SEA LIFE series.
Click the links and help educate and celebrate the magic of our wonderful world.

Jerry, The Fuzziest Mascot Around

Hi! I’m Jerry, the official mascot for ECOSMART DESIGNS.


I was born just after Christmas last year. I didn’t want draw attention away from that joyous event by the arrival of super cute and cuddly self.
They tell me that I was named after Jerry Garcia. After hearing his music playing from the loud speaker around the factory and office, I can tell you that I am most grateful for the name.

I have complete run of the place. I’m free to roam around and visit my friends. There is the tall girl who puts together the jewelry who likes to scratch me behind my ears. And the guy who does the casting and puts the products in the tumbler, that makes that soothing sound, he’s always good for a good belly rub.
The team over in shipping are always busy but, from time to time, I get a great group hug.

Everyone has their specialty and I know just who to see when I want a specific job done.
Of course, there are times when I’m tired of truckin’ and want to lay down and let sleep ripple over me. That’s when I curl up beneath someone’s feet in the office on the carpet with a touch of gray. I just let it all go and imagine the wonders of nature, rolling in the rushes down by the riverside.

Speaking of that, I think it’s time for a nap. It’s a good dog’ life. I’m sittin’ on top of the world. Don’t you worry, I’ll not fade away and be back to see you again.
And we bid you a good night.


A Brief History of Pewter

When we think of pewter, (a combination of tin, antimony, and copper) the word that pops out is tin. The next thing that pops into our mind is “tin can” which is cheap. Tin cans were in fact made from iron that was dipped in tin to capitalize on one of tin’s strong attributes, it’s ability to prevent rust. After platinum, gold and silver, Pewter is the forth-most precious metal in the world.

This wonderful metal has a long history. The origin of the word Pewter is a bit of a mystery, but it is probably an English modification of the word Middle Eastern word “spelter.” It was adopted with only slight variation by Euroupeans. The word pewter was peauter in Dutch, peutre, peautre or piautre in French, peltro in Italian and peltre in Spanish.

Pewter was used in the ancient world by Egyptians and later the Romans. It came into extensive use in the Middle Ages. During the 12th century, only wealthy nobles, merchants and church officials could afford it. By the 14th century, because of advances in production and technology, pewter was commonly used to replace wood, leather and pottery for tableware and other household items.  The growth of the pewter industry in Europe led to the establishment of guilds, which regulated the quality of work produced by pewterers. Given the name given to the guild in England, "The Worshipful Company of Pewterers" they took their work very seriously.

Roman pewter, the oldest known, which has been uncovered at various sites in England and elsewhere, was composed of tin and lead alone. The occasional traces of iron that were found are believed to have been accidental. The use of lead has, of course, been eliminated from the process. That is except for some notable recalls from products produced in China.

All of ECOSMART’S vast product line uses SAFEPEWTER™. It is the highest quality pewter in the world today, meeting or surpassing the toughest industry and governmental standards. We are proud to produce a product that is Lead-Free, Nickle-Free and Cadmium-Free. Each step of the process from casting, finishing and assembly are all done in the USA.

We pride ourselves in adding to the history of pewter in a way that is both healthy for the economy and healthy for our health.
Take a look at the vast variety of items that we produce using our SafePewter™ as both FINISHED JEWELRY and CASTINGS.

Greetings from Colorado!

EcoSmart Designs is excited to bring you American postcard classics from Pop Art pioneer, Curt Tiech.  In the early 20th Century, Curt Tiech sought out the great wonders of America and in them found inspiration for an astonishing body of work. His bright and bold GREETINGS FROM postcardsresonate with our pride and wonder of our America the Beautiful!

Curt Teich immigrated to the United States from Lobenstein, Germany in 1896. Perhaps it was because he was an immigrant that his fascination with America was so great and bold. Curt Teich & Company opened in January 1898 in Chicago, Illinois and closed in 1978. The Teich Company was the world's largest printer of view and advertising postcards. The GREETINGS FROM postcard collection was the most popular seller, but other cards include images of more than 10,000 towns and cities in North America and in many foreign countries. In total, the Teich Company produced 365,000 postcards under more than 2,100 subject headings.

We are honored to have an exclusive offering of these officially licensed, high-resolution, legendary designs.

Where are you from? Where are you visiting? Where are you going? The full expanse of all 50 states, expressed in these classic images will help your customers answer the question. There are available, of course, as postcards and, also, as notecards, stickers, magnets, large and small posters, necklace pendants, keychains, Clip Ons, Notecard set of 6, a pin and a button.

The eye catching graphics on the free display will certainly grab your customer’s attention.

Good News for Elephants in Tanzania

Photo: Greg Willis


From 2009 to 2014, the number of elephants in the Serengeti have nearly doubled, to 6,087. The main concern is in the larger, more remote areas where poaching the country’s elephant population has fallen by 60 percent just in the past five years.

According to a new DNA study a sizable amount of the world illegal ivory has originated in Tanzania. Tanzania's Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, drew praise for making such grim figures public even as he was seeking nomination as the ruling party’s next presidential candidate. The report also sparked controversy when he said that the numbers reflected 12,000 “lost” elephants.

A new count will be made by the Franfurt Zoological Society of Germany and Vulcan Inc of the US under the Paul Allen Foundation. As of 2014, there are now more than 1,000 new park rangers. There is a new agreement with Zambia to protect the Miombo woodland, about 2.5 million square kilometers (965,000 square miles) of land that crisscrosses Tanzania and Zambia. Tanzania and Mozambique have also signed a bilateral agreement to protect the Selous-Niassa Corridor, which will become the world's largest protected area.

That is good news for us all and great news for the elephants.


ECOSMART’S ANIMAL KINGDOM, which includes IN THE WILD, ANIMAL TRACKS and SEA LIFE, has hundred of our animal friends. All pieces are cast with fine lead-free SafePewter™. Each pendant comes mounted on a vibrant merchandise card that includes a brief description of the animal and their status as threatened, endangered, extinct or of least concern for becoming threatened.

Doobie Dos and Don'ts

With the growing acceptance of Marijuana as a recreational drug, as you might expect, the discussion of pot is populated with a prolific preponderance of playful platitudes and profundity.

In 2013, after Washington State legalized recreation use of pot, the police instituted “Operation Orange Fingers” at Seattle’s annual Hempfest.  In the first half an hour they gave away 1,000 snack-size bags of Doritos with a copy of the new rules about weed use in the state.

The crowd ate it up.  The Don'ts included "Don't drive while high," and "Don't use pot in public. You could be cited but we'd rather give you a warning." The “Do” was the tongue in cheek comment, "Do listen to Dark Side of the Moon at a reasonable volume."

In Colorado, where the laws have become the most liberal in the country, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), issued their own “Doobie-DOs” list to help consumers understand the complexities of the new law that began on January 1st in the Mile High State.


The lengthy list includes such things as: “DO purchase up to one ounce of marijuana if you are 21 or older, but only from a licensed retail marijuana store. DO consider 10mg or less as starter dose for edibles. Wait 45 minutes or longer to see how you feel before consuming more. Falling asleep or feeling too “high” is avoidable.” And, “DO be patient with us. We're making history here.”

With 31 states now considering Marijuana law reform and national legislation now considered a matter of when, rather than if, let’s hope the trend of keeping a good humor continues.

EcoSmart’s new POSITIVE VIBES series offers original designs that are available as necklaces, keychains and clip-ons.  The entire series is available as a hip counter culture counter display


"Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see." C.S. Lewis

In the classic sense a miracle is a surprising and welcome event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. These events are sometimes attributed to a supernatural being (God or gods), a saint or a religious leader.

And, in same way that the word changed from the Greek, “thaumasion to the Latin “miraculum  to the English “miracle,” so too does our understanding of what the word might mean. What was viewed as miraculous, like a solar eclipse, during the Middle Ages, is now understood as a consequence of natural forces.

Our understanding of the interrelationship of the mind and matter has gone under a similar transformation. How we see the world is a direct reflection of how we think. It is a mirror of how we see ourselves.

In scientific terms, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity make that clear.

Even spiritual understanding of miracles has gone under a similar transformation. In The Course of Miracles, it reads, “A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time's limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love's awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings…… A miracle inverts perception which was upside down before, and thus it ends the strange distortions that were manifest. Now is perception open to the truth.”

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle”  ~Albert Einstein

EcoSmart’s series, POCKET MIRACLES, don’t create miracles, they help remind us that we do….by being open to the possibly.

Leo | July 23 - August 22

LEO July 23 - August 22

As the astrological sign of Leo begins on July 23rd.  This is not just important for those bold individuals born under this noble sign. This phase of the astrological cycle also calls to the rest of us to embody the noble qualities of Leo.

Not everyone is a born leader, but we all must find the courage to lead even if it is one person. We all must, at one time or another, be able lead ourselves through our own personal difficulties.

Leo – The Lion concept expressed in life is "I Will." Their nature is Fixed Fire. Fixed signs are steady, stable, determined and resolute. Fire signs are enthusiastic and intuitive. Leo's focus is colored by the wearing of perennial rose-colored glasses, bestowing the ability to see life through a romantic lens, and then lovingly and generously sharing that view with all. Leo takes chances, big gambles, and believes that only this sign was born to lead the way, push them, or even chain them into a Leo vision in a big way, enlivening the mundane with drama, and in everything undertaken, Leo seeks and demands attention. All of it 

This, to many other signs, can appear to be selfish, even narcissistic. But, for all of us, we must have a measure of self-confidence. To be completely humble is to be isolated and creates a sense of worthlessness. Without a certain amount of selfishness we cannot create a world where we believe we have something to give. With a bit of Leo power, we can generously give of our possessions and ourselves.

Each of EcoSmart Design’s Zodiac selections is beautifully displayed on an attractive gift card with a brief synopsis of the good…and not so good qualities of each sign. 

Cecil the Lion – A martyr making a difference.

Undated picture of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. Dr Andrew Loveridge / Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University 


Cecil, the lion killed by American Dentist James Palmer, is raising more awareness about wildlife conservation than any single individual or organization has done in years.

By now, most everyone within sight of a TV or who has an even a passing interest in the internet knows about Cecil, the beloved lion from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Google shows 39,800,000 results, including a page in Wikipedia. On Twitter there were more than 670,000 tweets in the first 24 hours after the story broke. As of yesterday, the hashtag, #CecilTheLion has tallied 2 billion impressions.

Cecil, the lionized lion, is now part of an international conversation about conservation and the justification of sport hunting. Cecil may be gone, but he surely is not forgotten. The same cannot be said for James Palmer. His dentistry Yelp’s page was flooded with nasty comments that called him “demented” and a “disgusting coward”. Fake pages for River Bluff Dental also populated Facebook to further humiliate him with equally scathing reviews.

Celebrities have jumped into the fray en masse. Mia Farrow tweeted the business address of the dentist. She received some heat for doing so, and even more praise. Bob Barker, the former “The Price Is Right” host, defender her and added, “Well, if by publicizing his address they can make him miserable, I say publicize that address, because this man deserves to be made miserable for years to come.”

The dentist has apologized for the kill and blamed his guides, who have been charged with poaching and released by authorities in Zimbabwe. The jury is still out on whether the shooting of Cecil was “technically” legal or if James Palmer was complacent in a crime. One thing is for sure; a renewed conversation about conservation has begun, thanks to a lone lion on the African Plain.

The killer of Cecil the lion that has been excoriated around the world in recent days may face Zimbabwean justice for his crime. Zimbabwe’s government has asked that Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota who has admitted to killing the animal, be returned to Africa to be tried. 
“We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal action,” environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said on Friday, as Reuters reported.
By Justin Wm. Moyer - Washington Press

 Photograph: Christopher Scott/Alamy


EcoSmart Design has long championed and has helped others foster a love of animals and the natural world. Our lead-free, recycled SafePewter™ is used to create a vast menagerie of animals. Our ECOSMART’S ANIMAL KINGDOM, which includes IN THE WILD, ANIMAL TRACKS and SEA LIFE. They are available as pendants, key fobs, zipper pulls and clip-ons. Each pendant comes mounted on a vibrant card that includes a description of the animal and its status as endangered, threatened or safe.

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