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The Master of Filipino Tattoo Art

February 11, 2016

 

 

A dying Filipino tattoo tradition is being revived – and forever changed – by the international travellers seeking to get inked by its last tribal artist, 97-year old Apo Whang-Od. (Credit: Travel Trilogy)

A dying Filipino tattoo tradition is being revived – and forever changed – by the international travellers seeking to get inked by its last tribal artist, 97-year old Apo Whang-Od. (Credit: Travel Trilogy)

Winging it on a cliche, we’ll say tattoos are forever. And in the far flung, rustic town of Kalinga,  Apo Whang-Od prays it continues to be so. As the last tattoo artist in the Kalinga region, she carries forth the 1,000-year tradition of batok. And the pressure to see to it that she bequeaths the legacy to a worthy successor.

Every Kalinga village used to have a mambabatok (a master tattooist) to honour and usher in life’s milestones. When women would become eligible for marriage, they would adorn their bodies with tattoos to attract suitors. When headhunters prepared for battle, an inked centipede would be their talisman, or when they returned with a kill, an eagle would commemorate their victory. “Tattoos are one of our greatest treasures,” Whang-Od said. “Unlike material things, no one can take them away from us when we die.”

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Models Show Garbage Clean-up More Effective on Shoreline Than in Gyres

February 11, 2016

Image of trash on a beach by Flickr user Gerry & Bonni

The health of oceans in the face of massive pollution has been a topic of this blog on multiple occasions, and we’re always interested in learning more about the efforts to clean up the incredible amounts of waste, especially plastic, in one of the most–if not the most–important global ecosystems. New models by researchers at Imperial College London are hypothesizing that, rather than targeting sites like the great Pacific garbage patch, trash pick-up by floating microplastic collectors should be more effective near the coasts, where the rubbish originates. Sarah DeWeerdt reports for Conservation Magazine:

Cleanup efforts for ocean plastics should be concentrated close to shore, at the source of the problem, rather than in areas of open ocean where plastic tends to accumulate, according to a study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Ideally, if plastic collectors were placed offshore near coastal population centers, they could remove nearly one-third of plastic in the ocean over the next 10 years.

In the study, oceanographer Erik van Sebille and undergraduate physics student Peter Sherman, both at Imperial College London, used data on ocean currents and waste management practices in different countries to simulate the entry and circulation of plastic in the oceans from 2015 to 2025.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Malabar Trogan, female (Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka)

February 10, 2016

Malabar Trogan - Female by Dr. Eash Hoskhote - RAXA Collective

The Grey Parrots Go Missing

February 10, 2016

 

These African Grey parrots were rescued from smugglers and released on Ngamba Island in Lake Victoria. The African Grey parrot is the single most heavily traded wild bird. PHOTO: CHARLES BERGMAN

These African Grey parrots were rescued from smugglers and released on Ngamba Island in Lake Victoria. The African Grey parrot is the single most heavily traded wild bird. PHOTO: CHARLES BERGMAN

In all that we write about conservation, a related tag – unfortunately – happens to be extinction. Brought about by forest loss, miscalculated development plans, social and political apathy towards ecosystems, lack of awareness – the reasons we’ve all heard of. Now, National Geographic reports on the disappearance of the ‘talking bird’:

Flocks of chattering African Grey parrots, more than a thousand flashes of red and white on grey at a time, were a common site in the deep forests of Ghana in the 1990s. But a 2016 study published in the journal Ibis reveals that these birds, in high demand around the world as pets, and once abundant in forests all over West and central Africa, have almost disappeared from Ghana. Uncannily good at mimicking human speech, the African Grey (and the similar but lesser-known Timneh parrot) is a prized companion in homes around the world. Research has shown that greys are as smart as a two-five year-old human childcapable of developing a limited vocabulary and even forming simple sentences.

Read more…

Undiscovered Species in Natural History Museums

February 10, 2016

Evon Hekkala and a crocodile skull at the AMNH. Photo by Ed Yong.

We’re big fans of museums, especially those of natural history with specimens of life in the world that are invaluable to science. Now, in a piece for the Atlantic, Ed Yong (previously here) writes about the dozens of new species being identified many years–or in the case of some Egyptian mummified crocodiles, millennia–after their collection. These specimens, Yong reports, can inform us further on the evolution of animal body types, on cycles of diversity, and on the origins of epidemics, among other things:

In the darkness of the Akeley Hall of Mammals, swarms of kids gawk at beautifully staged dioramas of Africa’s wildlife. The stuffed safari, nestled in the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, includes taxidermied leopards stalking a bush pig, preserved ostriches strutting in front of warthogs, and long-dead baboons cautiously considering a viper. In one corner, in a display marked “Upper Nile Region,” a lone hippo grazes next to a herd of lechwe, roan antelope, and a comically stern shoebill stork.

“This is my favorite one,” says Evon Hekkala, pointing to the display. “There’s a taxidermied crocodile tucked away down there.”

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Malabar Soul Food

February 10, 2016

 

Malabar Soul Food – embodies the spices of the land blended with the memories of distant homelands, taking people back to the time when people who loved them cooked for them in a way that was meaningful and satisfying.

Food is about sense memories: it embodies our personal and social history, giving us a sense of place, of home…

Bird of the Day: Rose-breasted Grosbeak, juvenile male (Xandari Resort, Costa Rica)

February 9, 2016

A Lone Couple, a Desert Island, and Turtles

February 9, 2016
Despite living in utter isolation on a desert island for 40 years, one inspirational couple has overcome disability and blindness to make a difference. PHOTO: BBC

Despite living in utter isolation on an island for 40 years, one couple has overcome disability and blindness to make a difference. PHOTO: BBC

Isn’t there a line about finding heroes in the most unlikely places? This is the setting of Daeng Abu’s and his wife Daeng Maida’s inspirational story: a desert island off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia, disabilities in Abu being blind and facing leprosy, their days spent raising sea turtles and speaking against the cyanide and dynamite fishing that is devastating Indonesia’s reef.

Neither knows how old they were when they entered their arranged marriage on nearby Pulau Pala (Nutmeg Island) – they currently believe they’re in their 80s – but Abu thinks he was older than 20 and Maida remembers it was the dry season. Her uncle fired three shots in the air; she walked over to his family’s home; Abu built a shack from bamboo and palm leaf; and married life began. Little did they know at the time – the couple was bound to become a rather unlikely pair of environmental activists.

Read more…

From Behind the Wheel: Spice It Up

February 9, 2016

Mattanchery, Kochi, India

Bird of the Day: Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Mysore, Karnataka)

February 8, 2016

photo credit: Gururaj Moorching

To Our Sisters In Bali, Thank You

February 8, 2016

Ted Bali Sisters

A few months ago, with 11 minutes on stage in London at a regional TED event, these two poised and articulate, compelling Balinese sisters made a bold challenge. We commend their decisiveness and commitment, and will do our best to support them both in Bali and on our various home turfs:

Melati and Isabel Wijsen:

Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali

Plastic bags are essentially indestructible, yet they’re used and thrown away with reckless abandon.  Read more…

Wonky Produce!

February 8, 2016
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Asda’s wonky vegetable box contains items that are either oddly shaped, have growth cracks or are smaller or larger than average. Photo: Asda

In our vigilance on the waste reduction front, especially with regard to food, we are tracking efforts globally that we believe we, and our readers, will find interesting and useful.

We have long ago come to understand that the standard definition of beauty as it relates to fruits and vegetables–uniformity prized over flavor and nutrition–has done a huge disservice to the environment, not to mention to the consumers who suffer gastronomically as a result.

Thanks to the Guardian‘s Environment section for this news:

Asda puts UK’s first supermarket wonky veg box on sale

Box of imperfect in-season vegetables will feed a family of four for a week and costs £3.50 – 30% less than standard lines

The UK’s first supermarket ‘wonky vegetable’ box goes on sale on Friday, containing enough ugly potatoes and knobbly carrots to feed a family of four for an entire week for just £3.50. Read more…

Bird of the Day: American Redstart, male (Xandari Resort, Costa Rica)

February 7, 2016

Spotted Owls, Intangible Heritage, Future Fortunes

February 7, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 8.53.56 AM

About one minute in to Mr. Ziermann’s story, he explains how his intent to pursue a life of timber logging in Oregon was waylaid by the “rules and regulations” (he did not sound happy about these) to protect the spotted owl in the American northwest. I recommend taking five minutes with the video here, and a moment more below if you want my two cents on it.

A Fraught Search for Succession in Craftsmanship

Video by Andrew Plotsky
George Ziermann has been making handmade boots for over 40 years.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Peregrine Falcon (Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat)

February 6, 2016

Peregrine Falcon by Sudhir Shivaram - RAXA Collective

Hatching the ‘Third Eye’

February 6, 2016
The first tuatara hatchling has been born outside of its native New Zealand. photo: Chester Zoo

The first tuatara hatchling has been born outside of its native New Zealand. PHOTO: Chester Zoo

Discoveries excite us, an event that defies all odds even more so. Like the hatching of this tuatara outside its native of New Zealand.

After decades of work by a dedicated team at Chester Zoo in England, the first tuatara hatchling has been born outside of its native New Zealand.

“Breeding tuatara is an incredible achievement,” says Isolde McGeorge, the zoo’s tuatara keeper since 1977. “They are notoriously difficult to breed and it’s probably fair to say that I know that better than most as it has taken me 38 years to get here.”

Read more…

Coffee Going Strong at Xandari

February 6, 2016

When I got back to Xandari last year in June, I posted a couple photos of the Caturra plot, the Borbón plot, and the bagged seedlings. Since then, all the plants have grown quite a bit, and we’ve gotten a strong yield of cherries–and therefore coffee beans–even though the plants were only a year old in the ground. In fact, many of the plants of both varietals are experiencing a second round of flowers despite the dry season: climate change is putting the plants’ phenology out of whack, and so some shrubs even have cherries and flowers growing at the same time, which normally would never happen. The bees are certainly happy though!  Read more…

How Much Does an Elephant Eat?

February 6, 2016
An elephant takes in a meal at Elephant’s World, Thailand. PHOTO: Jay Simpson

An elephant takes in a meal at Elephant’s World, Thailand. PHOTO: Jay Simpson

Our love for pachyderms has found multiple expressions on this blog. With us now journeying with Asian Oasis in Thailand and Kerala as home, this love links our efforts in both these lands, serving as common ground for all that we hope to do in tandem with nature. For all that we’ve penned on elephants, we’ve not stopped to think what or rather how much food keeps their giant souls (and stomachs) happy.

Both captive and wild elephants eat a lot, but what else would you expect from one of the largest land animals on the planet? Wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) can spend an average of 16-18 hours of every day eating. In the wild they forage for food, constantly searching for roots, small trees, bamboo, grasses, and any other edible plants.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Summer Tanager, male (Xandari Resort, Costa Rica)

February 5, 2016

Israel to India, To Build Forests

February 5, 2016
Sadhana Forest shows local people in India, Haiti, and Kenya how to plant trees in dry regions – and improve their lives. PHOTO: Sadhana

Sadhana Forest shows local people in India, Haiti, and Kenya how to plant trees in dry regions – and improve their lives. PHOTO: Sadhana

Do you believe in a literary cosmos? I do. In the seemingly innocuous collision of two pieces of writing SO removed from each other that they are all that similar. Two articles – one found last evening for work, one chanced upon during the routine Instagram surf on the way to work. One standing out in the mayhem of a news feed; the incredible story of an Israeli man and his wife moving to India in 2003 and buying 70 acres of barren land. To build, sustain a forest. Reafforestation, to be clear. The other titled The Builder’s High. Yes, I’m ‘building’ this up.

Read more…

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