Welcome to Nature in Mind

Welcome to Nature in Mind where I write about wildlife conservation, animal welfare and living with nature in mind. I’d like to provide a place where we can exchange ideas to create positive change in our lives and in society.

I believe an informed, considered, and honest life, one that aligns with our values, is a meaningful life. By keeping nature in mind and caring more, we can enjoy a greener environment and better mental health.

I believe we naturally want to lead the good life and do the right thing. Through education and communication, we can improve conditions in society and the natural world. We can take action to enrich our own lives and those of generations to come.

I believe knowledge and compassion are key to change, and small voices in unison can make possible the seemingly impossible. If there’s something you feel strongly about, I encourage you to speak out.

What you can find on Nature in Mind

  • Posts on nature-related news and making better choices for nature and health
  • Nature in Mind conversation on Twitter  and Facebook
  • A place to share your thoughts
  • Passion and enthusiasm!

To help you find posts of interest, my writing is organised by categories on the menu bar, with sub-categories below.

Popular posts

‘No man is an island’: we are interconnected
Sirocco kakapo’s rise to stardom
Elephant orphans find comfort in wool blankets
African grey parrot silenced by trapping and logging
Disturbing truth behind Australia’s shark nets
Operation Henkaku exposes Japan’s dolphin slave trade
Owners in denial over cat predation on wildlife
Spending time in nature is good for our soul
Searching for Ruru: a native owl
Scientists develop alternative to antibiotics for farm animals

If you’d like to know a little about me and the inspiration for Nature in Mind, pop over to my About page. I would love you to join this community to share your thoughts, experiences and enthusiasm!

Image credit: Muriwai Beach Australasian Gannet Colony by David Brighten

Why we need to re-think cultural traditions

Culture and animals

Since starting this blog, my research on wildlife conservation and animal welfare has left me reflecting how we justify cultural traditions that exploit and abuse animals.

Cultural traditions are passed on through generations, perpetuating our use of animals for food and pleasure. In upholding festivals, food practices, medicinal ‘cures’ and superstition, animal abuse continues without question. We can be reluctant to let go of cultural traditions, seeing change as a rejection of our culture, or even an attack on our identity. Continue reading

World’s rarest penguin suffers disease, starvation and selfies

By Tracy Brighten
The yellow-eyed penguin is quietly losing its battle for survival after human settlement changed the landscape

Yellow-eyed penguin and chick

The Emperor penguin is arguably the most familiar penguin in the world, the poster penguin for climate change as global warming melts Antarctic ice. Films such as March with the Penguins document this magnificent penguin’s survival in such an inhospitable environment.

But not all penguins live in sub-zero temperatures. Some endure challenging environments higher up the temperature scale, but their battle for survival goes almost unnoticed despite being an ‘Endangered’ IUCN Red List Threatened Species. Continue reading

Must we teach children to kill?

By Tracy Brighten

There’s something perverse about teaching children to hunt


The slaying of Cecil the lion last year epitomises everything that’s wrong with a hunting culture that now seems to be more about pleasure and ego. A dentist who learned to shoot when he was five years old hops on a plane from the U.S to Africa and buys himself a baited lion which he slaughters, all for the thrill and the trophy. He doesn’t see the wondrous animal that others see. He sees only himself. Continue reading

Rabbits blasted by hunters in New Zealand Easter fun day

By Tracy Brighten

Children in Central Otago see a dark side to the Easter bunny


Easter is a time for celebration, whether it’s the Christian celebration of resurrection, or the Pagan celebration of fertility, symbolised in community Easter egg hunts and the Easter bunny.

What you wouldn’t expect is a family bunny hunt involving the slaughter of 10,000 rabbits. But that’s what happens every year in the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island. The Great Easter Bunny Hunt seems to be a celebration of killing. Continue reading

Malta set to slaughter 5000 turtle doves in spring hunt

By Tracy Brighten

Migrating turtle doves will be shot down as they fly over Malta.

European turtle dove

The Maltese government has sanctioned the slaughter of 5,000 European turtle doves as they fly over Malta in the last stages of their 5,600 km journey from wintering grounds in West Africa to breeding grounds in Europe.

No other European country allows spring hunting of turtle doves. Continue reading

Dairy-free for three months and counting

By Tracy Brighten

A dairy-free diet hasn’t been as difficult as I thought, even in New Zealand

dairy free milk options

After reading and writing about New Zealand’s dairy industry, I was unable to convince myself the abuse might be a one-off as claimed by industry representatives. Animal cruelty rarely occurs in isolation, but is often endemic, whether for cultural reasons or poor regulation. So as I wrote in a post last year, I’m now on a dairy-free diet. I survived the festive season with a delicious vegan nut roast and hadn’t given my new eating plan much thought until recently. Continue reading

African grey parrot silenced by trapping and logging

By Tracy Brighten

Our fascination with intelligent parrots drives harvesting and poaching of wild birds, with the African grey suffering catastrophic decline

African grey parrot head    

When we’re looking for an animal to keep as a pet, we think about food, exercise, and affordability. But how much thought do we give to where the animal came from? When we buy exotic birds through online ads or breeders, we may unknowingly support the plunder of wild species. The African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is one such species. Continue reading

Blind love for cats is killing our songbirds

By Tracy Brighten

As cat ownership soars, we need a change in attitude to save mammals and songbirds from cats’ claws

Cat whiskers

Despite evidence from camera traps and Cat Tracker devices showing predatory behaviour, cat owners tend to describe their pets as too slow or too gentle to harm wildlife. But Kitty is equally at home stalking wildlife as she is sleeping on our lap.

As human populations and domestic cat ownership explode, especially in urban areas, more small mammals and birds fall prey. When breeding can’t keep pace with predation, species numbers decline. Well-fed domestic cats might even be compared to trophy hunters in the sense they aren’t hunting for food. Continue reading

Catios and collars cool for cats and wildlife

By Tracy Brighten

Cat predation is wreaking havoc on wildlife, but an open-air safe haven for domestic cats and a collar that warns birds could be the purr-fect solution

Cat wearing Birdsbesafe collar

I’ve written in the past about the threat to wildlife from domestic cats and owners’ reluctance to accept their cat might be involved. While exact prey numbers are difficult to determine, camera traps show that small mammal and bird populations are threatened in areas with high density cat populations. If we want to preserve biodiversity then local government and cat owners can’t ignore the predation problem. Continue reading

When dietary changes make you a social outcast

By Tracy Brighten

Vegetarian sandwich

Make a decision to lose weight, change career, or have children, and friends and family generally meet the change with excitement and words of encouragement. But tell them you no longer eat meat, fish, or dairy, or even that you’re just thinking about it, and you find yourself being interrogated.

If your reasons for dietary changes are health based, you risk the usual ill-informed response that you can’t be healthy without meat. But if your reasons are ethics based, be prepared for an even rougher ride. Continue reading