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Bird of the Day: Indian Roller (Bangalore, Karnataka)

September 2, 2014

Indian Roller by Brinda Suresh - RAXA Collective

Stories from the Field: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Kerala

September 2, 2014
Photo credits: Sudhir Shivaram

Photo credits: Sudhir Shivaram

Back in the early days of my photography work I traveled to Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, and hired Eldhose, one of the finest bird guides in Kerala, as my guide. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (also commonly known as the Thattekad Sanctuary) is located in the Kothamangalam Taluk of Ernakulam district on the northern bank of the Periyar river. The sanctuary was created in 1983 based on a recommendation made by Dr. Salim Ali many years previously. Ali described Thattekad in the 1930’s as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the eastern Himalayas. Since then much of the forest has been converted to cultivation of teak and mahogany plantation but what survives gives a glimpse of the phenomenal bird diversity of the once widespread lowland forests of Kerala.

When I arrived Eldhose was waiting for me at the park entrance and helped me check into a home stay which is inside the sanctuary. I dumped my luggage and immediately was ready with my gear to head to the park. Our main target for the morning was to get the Ceylon (or Srilankan) frogmouth. The weather wasn’t on my side and it was drizzling. I always carry a huge plastic cover to protect my camera and lens, so with the little showers accompanying us, we set out in to the forest. Read more…

Bird of the Day: Nashville Warbler eyeing prey (Yosemite National Park, California)

September 1, 2014

Documenting the Conservation Story, Part 2

September 1, 2014

Photo courtesy of Heena Metha

Photo credit: Heena Metha

As I mentioned earlier, the internship program for my school requires we do an Informational Interview with our supervisor. I wanted to share the interview here for other people who are interested in entrepreneurial conservation. The rest of the information from the interview will soon be in the updated About section of the site.

Informational Interview with Crist Inman, Executive Director of RAXA Collective

1. How does the partnership between environment and business work in the sustainable tourism industry?

The idea behind it is to give more value to nature in its raw state than using it in an extractive way. For example, you can cut down a tree only once, but you can monetize it by having people pay for a hike over and over again. It is a partnership between environment and business that engages people in conservation. Philanthropic conservation such as writing a check to WWF or The Nature Conservancy is good, but there is still a deficit in conservation. Public sector work plays an important role, but we are going to need more than philanthropy and public sector work as the world still loses more wilderness than it protects. The intangibles of culture loss are harder to detect and comprehend but the world is losing that too. This is a business model that allows people to engage in conservation more than just writing a check. This allows people to participate and experience nature and culture in a way that is good for business.

2. What is entrepreneurial conservation?

Usually these two words don’t get used in the same sentence. Together though, these words build something more valuable and effective than either could on their own. The premise underlying entrepreneurial conservation is that there are good economic reasons to preserve natural and cultural heritage. And when such good reasons present themselves, opportunity and need go hand in hand. Essentially, it is professionals developing and/or managing a business whose profits are invested in the conservation of natural and/or cultural patrimony. Read more…

Conservation, Passenger Pigeons, History Of Extinction

September 1, 2014
Gérard DuBois

Gérard DuBois

Our favorite doomsday journalist (we mean that as the highest compliment) posted over the weekend an unamusing memo to remind us that this is an important centenary anniversary. It ups the ante on our commitment to the community of birdwatchers, casual and serious alike, who support important conservation of wildlife habitat all over the world.

It is not amusing to be reminded about various tragic commons, especially ones for which collective action would seem to have been achievable. We link to these stories in the hope that doomsday outcomes will become less likely if we remind ourselves often enough.

Yesterday the ever-better New York Times, newspaper of record that pays more and better attention to environmental issues than most other publications, saw fit to print this piece by the Executive Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, for which we give our thanks and share with you in whole due to its value as a public service:

ITHACA, N.Y. — THE passenger pigeon is among the most famous of American birds, but not because of its beauty, or its 60-mile-an-hour flight speed. Nor is it a cherished symbol of our great country. No, we remember the passenger pigeon because of the largest-scale human-caused extinction in history.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Malabar Pied Hornbill (Dandeli, Karnataka)

August 31, 2014

Malabar Pied Hornbill by Brinda Suresh - RAXA Collective

Thank You, Oxfam International

August 31, 2014
Photo courtesy of behindthebrands.org

Photo courtesy of behindthebrands.org

The Oxfam International campaign Behind the Brands aims to address how little is known about supply chains of the top 10 largest food and beverage companies. Listening to the NPR Salt Chat provides a good explanation about how pushing for transparency from these big companies is a catalyst for on-the-ground change. The campaign has only been around for a year and a half and they’ve already seen great progress in terms of land rights for local community, government intervention, and women’s rights.

It’s not always easy to connect the dots between the food we consume and the people who grow it, or the impact of growing and processing that food on the health of our planet.

But a campaign called Behind the Brands, led by Oxfam International, an advocacy organization dedicated to fighting poverty, is trying to make the inner workings of the 10 biggest food companies in the world more visible…

We sat down to talk with Chris Jochnick, one of the architects of this campaign and Oxfam America’s director of private sector development. We touched on how social media is giving activists more power, why big food companies respond to pressure, and whether corporate executives are his friends or his enemies.

We also wanted to know: Will the promises that these companies make really translate into concrete changes on, say, cocoa farms in West Africa?

Read more…

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