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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 Balinesian 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. Photograph: PR company handout

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

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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…

What We Are Made Of

February 5, 2016

 

Water and light… History and tradition… The patina of layered paint on classic four-part doors, and sun-faded signs help inspire the Xandari Harbour color palette.

The design brief was simple: honor history, but be not a slave to it. Embrace the fresh language of Indian aesthetics while celebrating the materials of the past.

Two entrances are here to welcome you. Choose classic – Choose modern. They both lead inside.

Come see!

Bird of the Day: Shikra (Sivarpanam Palace, Tamil Nadu)

February 4, 2016

Shikra by Vijaykumar Thondaman - RAXA Collective

El Jefe, Sole Wild USA Jaguar

February 4, 2016

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One may be the loneliest number, but it is not a hopeless number, we hope. Thanks to the Atlantic for this story:

There are about 15,000 jaguars living in the wild today. They are solitary creatures, preferring to live and hunt alone. But the one living and hunting in the United States takes the word “loner” to another level: The jaguar, nicknamed “El Jefe,” is the only known wild jaguar in the country.

El Jefe, which means “the boss” in Spanish, made his public debut Wednesday in video footage released by the Seattle-based Conservation CATalyst and the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. The brief clip shows the big cat roaming the grassy forest floor of the Santa Rita Mountains, outside Tucson, navigating rocky creeks, and just doing jaguar-y things: Read more…

The Sunny Road Ahead

February 4, 2016
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Wattway panels (treehugger.com)

What do you imagine when you think of a sunny road?  Probably not anything resembling a landscape as literally solar as what you would find northwest of Amsterdam in the town of Krommenie, or soon enough in France.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Green Violetear (Poás Volcano foothills, Costa Rica)

February 3, 2016

Walking In on the Sari

February 3, 2016

Walk. That’s my one-word gospel for all who will listen in on the best way to discover. Meander. Be curious, the good kind. Because stories wait around corners, discoveries often plonk themselves on one-way streets. And some are found in messy backrooms of squeaky clean shops lined with mannequins and smiles. Like this woven tale of the people, history, and fabric that go into the making of the Indian drape. There’s more than just five yards to the sari, trust me.

Read more…

Mathematically Inclined Plant Life

February 3, 2016

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We pore the Science section of the New York Times each Tuesday, looking for stories that seem intriguing, and therefore (however much a stretch related to the “fascination with nature”) relevant to our conservation message. We rely on many publications with online outlets for such stories, but always stop at a certain point with stories that simply get us to ick, or which lead to implications not inherently appropriate to a company that operates lodging establishments around the world.

Nonetheless, we read even those stories that make us wince–in the spirit of eat your vegetables, in the interest of learning–but there are some phenomena we promise never to subject our readers to. Not that we do not see the value in understanding such things, but we can only stand so much ick in a day.

Versatile Bamboo and Cast Aluminum Structures for the DR and Elsewhere

February 3, 2016

Jack Elliot and students completed a test build in Cornell’s High Voltage Laboratory before erecting the structure in the Dominican Republic. Photo © Robert Barker / University Photography

Bamboo comes up frequently on this blog, since it is such a fast-growing plant that can be used in various ways for construction and design. Recently, we learned of a collaborative project at Cornell University where bamboo-based structures intended to resist the violence of earthquakes and hurricanes in the Caribbean (and tested on the island of the Dominican Republic) use an aluminum joint system invented by a Cornell professor. Roger Segelken reports for the Cornell Chronicle:

The first field test of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA) associate professor Jack Elliott’s “Triakonta” structural system stands in the Punta Cana coastal region of the Dominican Republic, as an outdoor classroom for the Puntacana Ecological Foundation.

“The structure itself is elegant and has sparked dialogue about sustainable architecture amongst visiting guests, students and even architects,” said Jake Kheel, M.S. ’02, environmental director of Grupo Puntacana, which operates a resort adjoining the eco-preserve where Cornellians and locals built the bamboo structure in mid-2015.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Siberian Rubythroat (Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Rajasthan)

February 2, 2016

Siberian Rubythroat by Sudhir Shivaram - RAXA Collective

Migration Animation from eBird Data Proves the Worth of Citizen Science

February 2, 2016

Each dot represents a single bird species; the location represents the average of the population for each day of the year

On January 20th, researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B titled “Convergence of broad-scale migration strategies in terrestrial birds.” Using data from eBird that indicated the presence and absence of over a hundred different bird species in the Western Hemisphere, they tracked migration patterns among the various species and found that many of them used very similar routes that avoided or took advantage of certain geographical or atmospheric factors. In short, the paper illustrated that scientists can use the data from eBird in just the manner that I always tell guests here at Xandari: with thousands of observations by people in different places and at all times of the year, population statistics, migration data, and other information can be gathered about bird species around the world. All through citizen science.

Read more…

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