Hanami or “flower viewing” is a traditional Japanese practice in which people enjoy the transient beauty of flowers. Typically, the flowers are sukura or cherry blossoms less popular are the ume or plum blossoms.
As this activity and the related festivals or parties are reliant on nature the few weeks when the flowers are in bloom varies from year to year. The Japanese weather bureau has traditional published a blossom forecast which is watched carefully by those who plan hanami.
In Japan today, hanami are typically outdoor parties that take place under sakura during the day and at night. At night they are called yozakura, this term is typically used by the larger festivals. At these yozakura paper lanterns or lights are strung near and weaved into the blossoms so revelers can view them in the darkness.
Often the sakura parties are crowded and noisy, typically filled with younger people. Older crowds sometimes enjoy the more ancient hanami, ume, or plum blossom viewing.
Although these gatherings have been canceled this year in Japan, traveling there to view the sakura and witness the festivals is worth the trip. If Japan is a little too far many places in the United States also celebrate cherry blossom festivals such as Washington D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival and Brooklyn New York’s Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
If you’d been panicking about the lack of the beloved Biscoff cookie in United Airline’s comp. food service, panic not for it shall return, according to a spokesperson for the airline. They said the switch to Oreo Thins was temporary, they will continue to rotate treats and that the Biscoff will be back this May.
If you recall when the Biscoff cookie went away the internet freaked right out that their favorite free treat may never again be available on a UA flight. Is this proof that complaining online will change a company’s mind? We aren’t here to make that claim but many will be happy about the shortbread cookies triumphant return to in-flight food service carts.
For many the free in-flight snack is an essential part of their travel experience. For many a cookie and a soda can have a calming effect on us, as we know that sugar and fat excite the feel good chemicals in our brains. So after planning the trip, packing, getting to the airport, getting through security and finally being seated something as simple as a favorite cookie can have a strong mental effect on a traveler.
A 6 year-old girl suffered only minor injuries from which she is recovering from after what is suspected to be a mountain lion attacked her at a park in California. State wildlife experts are currently searching for the animal in question.
A group of patrons including the victim and her parents along with a few other adults and children were hiking on a Rancho San Antonio County Park trail in Santa Clara County. As the animal attacked one adult punched the animal in the ribs—believed to weigh about 160 lbs. The rest of the group helped scare it away by making loud noises.
A park ranger was able to quickly provide the child with first aid.
The attack happened just two miles from the main parking lot. Park officials stated that this was unusual as these lions are a rare encounter in the area. The lions live throughout the Santa Cruz Mountain region and are generally not a threat to people.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that since 1986 there have only been 17 reported mountain lion attacks against humans in the entire state. The park is currently closed while the Department of Fish and Wildlife look for the animal. Once found, official will determine what to do next.
Not long ago the first mountain lion was killed in California under the state’s new “3 strike law” which states a mountain lion can be killed by a property owner after it has killed or injured livestock or pets.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife reminded hikers that if they see a lion to stay calm. To make themselves large and loud and slow back away. Never turn and run, officials stated.
Wildlife organizations including the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganada and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Sarambwe Nature Reserve report that the mountain gorilla population in their forests has grown to 459. The confirmed global number of mountain gorillas can now be reported as 1063. This good news demonstrates that the conservation efforts to protect these great apes have been working. Their prospects are improving. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has changed their status from critical to just endangered.
It was not all good news unfortunately.
Illegal activity in the Bwindi-Sarambwe forest have not declined as the gorilla population increased. Even though there has been a serious effort put towards official enforcement and community efforts to stop illegal activity. Anti-poaching teams destroyed only 88 traps during the 2018 survey which was the same number as the last survey in 2011. Experts agree this ecosystem is still in danger of being destroyed by human activity.
Overall these organizations see the news as good, they do however caution that mountain gorillas remain threatened by extinction by human activity whether that is poaching, climate change or a lack of conservation effort.
Recently a Chinese man was fined and arrested when customers officers found 200 live and venomous scorpions in his luggage at Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka.
The man is suspected of smuggling the scorpions into China so the venom could be extracted, however, he was released and allowed to return home after paying the fine of $550.
Officials stated that an investigation is underway. They were not able to value the scorpions, but stated that live-wildlife trafficking is a lucrative new trade and recently has become an issue all over the world.
Sri Lanka is the home of about 18 different species of venomous scorpions but only one Sri Lankan species is known to be fatal to humans. At this time it is unknown whether the 200 live scorpions are of this deadly species.
This weird case comes right on the heals of another strange smuggling incident in which a plane passenger at the same airport attempted to smuggle $30,000 worth of gold using his rear end.